On February 28, UTMSU held its annual film festival. The event featured student filmmakers who screened their short films to an audience of students and guests. This year, the film festival was hosted by DVSSS, UTMSU, and ICCIT who held the event in CC1140. 

Ten short films were screened this year, including: Red Seagull by Sean Morello, Holo Gram by Seyi Olomodosi, Submarine by Pai Du, Do I need to remind you by Ayomide Bayowa, Lost In the Philippines, Fin by Chunzi Chen, Gladys Lou, Lok Ian vong, and Masha Le do, Breakfast In Lebanon by Reem Al-Wakeal, Cold Outside by Scott Warren, They Long to Be by James Legaspi, and Gene the Artist by Sabrina Bilic.

DVSSS Vice President Hanan Rahan hosted the screening.He welcomed the audience and gave a short introduction before films were screened. Each short film explored varied films and genres, including cultural exploration, loneliness, and identity. Some of my favourites included Olomodosi’s Holo Gram, Reem Al-Wakeal’s  Breakfast In Lebanon, and Ayomide Bayowa’s Do I need to remind you.

 Holo Gram was less about a defined plot and more of an experience. Filled with fast paced clips that quickly moved on to the next just as soon as you made sense of it, its constant narrated audio, a deep warped voice, drove the pace and tone of the film. The boy and the girl in the film bathed in purple lighting and their faces layered onto one another, luminous and glassy. In other instances, they interacted directly, even then the male’s shadowed hand was the only one reaching out.

Breakfast In Lebanon explored Lebanese culture. The filmmaker took inspiration from her own culture by highlighting her mother and the food she makes as a way to feel connected to Lebanon. The film took us through the making of Manakish with her mother. As we watched from the process, we saw hands and arms coming to the center of the table to either mix flour, knead and flatten dough, spread Za’atar or cheese (Manaeesh) over the flatbread to bake. An attempt by Reem to take a piece was thwarted by a smack from her mother. English and Arabic were used in the narration, with Arabic often spoken by the mother as she told stories of the filmmaker, or of Lebanon itself. The film ended with a showing of the feast; the Manakish, cut vegetables, and other complementary dips.

Do I need to remind you focused on reckoning of the main character’s culture. An eight-year-old girl was shown in different settings, including the park and her home. Each clip showed a high degree of technical skills and took the audience through a journey of identity exploration. As the short continued, the main character became more confident and broke the fourth wall by addressing the camera at the end, “Who are you?” she asked.

I asked filmmaker Bayowa what inspired him to make the film. He said, “Before I write my films, I go through experiences. Before I write my films, I have to experience it. I have to delve into my characters’ lives. Just like method acting, before I direct my films, I direct myself.”

The award ceremony came right after the screening, in which select films won in seven categories.

Best Sound Design and Music went to They Long to Be by James Legaspi, Best Directing went to Breakfast In Lebanon by Reem Al-Wakeal, Best Original script was won by Cold Outside by Scott Warren, Best Cinematography meant a second win for They Long to Be by James Legaspo, and Best Editing to Holo Gram by Seyi Olomodosi.

The audience voted on The People’s Choice award right after the screening it was awarded to Breakfast In Lebanon by Reem Al-Wakeal. The last award was Film Fest 2020 Best Picture and the title of winner went to Do I need to remind you by Ayomide Bayowa. The evening was a great night as DVSSS, UTMSU, and ICCIT successfully hosted the event, which ended off with a dinner for the filmmakers and attendees.

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