My Student Loan takes a sardonic look at postsecondary education


Above and below: Scenes from My Student Loan

York’s The Independents, a monthly series of screenings and discussions on indie Canadian cinema, takes a sardonic look at the current state of post-secondary education through My Student Loan, a film by first-time documentary filmmaker Mike Johnston.

Johnston’s wildly popular 2002 documentary stems from his own experience after he graduated from Trent University, when he found himself unemployed, crushed by his student loan and plagued by collection agencies. In fact, he hopes his creation will help pay off the loan – at least, that is what prompted him to make the film.

Begging and borrowing cameras, Johnston embarked on a hilarious and horrifying ride through debt-ridden student life. Students working at the local pizzeria tally up their combined debt on the cash register – a total of $90,000 in one stop. In fact, he discovered that Trent students have run up a combined debt of $54 million in the last four years, at interest rates of 12 per cent and up.

The university itself is in debt as a strategy to get out of debt. With dogged determination and acidic deadpan irony, Johnston follows the money and takes politicians to task to expose the dangerous lunacy of the “new economics of education.” Four years in the making, this gritty documentary presents Johnston’s battles with collection agencies, while commenting on the new economics of higher education.

John Doyle of The Globe & Mail called My Student Loan “a terrifically original, funny and biting documentary.”

My Student Loan has a folksy, lower than low budget feel ($16,000) that in the end makes audiences grin at the irony that is only offered in true life. At York it will be screened by Festival Pics, Hot Docs and the York Film & Video Student Association through the series, The Independents, which is presented by York’s Department of Film & Video, Faculty of Fine Arts.

  • When: Thursday, Nov. 27 at 6pm
  • Where: Computer Science & Engineering Building, Lecture Hall C
  • Admission: Free

For more information call ext. 22174 or e-mail