Accolade Fine Arts Festival has arts media buzzing

ACCOLADES! cried the the Toronto Sun March 17. York University and the Faculty of Fine Arts are celebrating the official opening of The Accolade Project, a fab new teaching, exhibition and performance complex, with a week-long Fine Arts Festival starting Monday, the paper reported. On March 24, the Department of Film will show off its spectacular new high-tech cinema with a showcase screening of award-winning productions by York students, past and present. A Toast to York Film is co-hosted by York Film Professor Seth Feldman and alumnus Larry Weinstein of Rhombus Media. The event will feature a selection of award-winning short movies made by York students and two films from Weinstein: The short film Toothpaste and the 50-minute Burnt Toast. Admission is $10.

The new cinema in The Accolade Project is a 500-seat facility (with a 40-foot wide screen and 19-speaker Dolby Digital Surround Sound audio system) equipped for projection in formats ranging from video to cinema-quality digital, noted the Sun. It has one of only a handful of DLP Christie Digital projectors in the GTA. Yikes. The Globe and Mail’s online edition of March 17 also noted the dates and times of Accolade festival events.

Garrity believes there’s no place like Winnipeg to make movies

Growing up in Winnipeg, says director and York film & video alumnus Sean Garrity (BFA ’93), you didn’t see your city reflected on TV or in movies, reported The Toronto Star March 17. “You feel that the world happens somewhere else; none of it happens here. So you slap on a backpack and go out there to be part of the world.” And if, like Garrity, you come back 11 years later having travelled to India, Japan and South America, and decide this is where you’re going to make your career as a filmmaker, chances are you might have lost your pretensions. “I decided the best place in Canada to make films was Winnipeg, partly because it’s just a great place to make films; it’s got a great community. And also because, if I was going to talk about anything with any honesty or any depth it would resonate more if it was told from the place that I grew up in.” That decision paid off. His feature film Inertia won the Citytv Award for Best First Feature Film at the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival, and Lucid, opening today, had its world premier at TIFF last September and has since entered seven more festivals.

Garrity talks fast and has an edgy look about him, the Star said. He might have worked as one of the psychologically disturbed characters in Lucid, a suspenseful tale about a psychologist suffering from a recent marital break-up and trying to deal with three patients who gradually draw him into their delusions. He knew he was making a genre film, a psychological thriller, and he was looking to entertain. “We don’t take ourselves very seriously. I find that these kinds of films are always kind of heavy, self-important and very, very serious. I wanted to take a different approach, make it light and have a character who’s kind of dorky and awkward. There are a couple of scenes in the film that are outright comedy.”

A filmmaker who subsidizes his filmmaking playing bass in Winnipeg’s active live music scene, Garrity got his training at York University and at a small film school in the suburbs of Buenos Aires that he credits with giving him the tools to make films anywhere, anyhow. There’s no grand plan for his filmmaking future, Garrity says, but he’s very pleased with what he believes is his best script yet, a feature based in Winnipeg and Mexico. With a little more help from his friends it could be in production in a couple of years.

  • It’s not exactly breaking news that Canada’s English-language film industry faces a crisis over distribution and exhibition, reported The Globe and Mail March 17. But Sean Garrity has an idea he thinks might work – and cost essentially nothing. The son of “seventies idealists who were teachers,” Garrity divided his youth between remote communities (Cambridge Bay, Churchill, a Métis settlement near Rivers, Man.) and Winnipeg. He spent his twenties travelling – living in India’s Gujarat state for a year, in Argentina (two years), in Montreal, and in Japan (three years). He’s now fluent in Japanese and Spanish. It was on the eve of his 30th birthday, on a beach in Indonesia, that he decided to return to Winnipeg and become a filmmaker.

Director Sam Dunn’s on a heavy metal mission

Heavy metal – one of the most maligned, theatrical and enduring genres of rock – means the world to Victoria native and York alumnus Sam Dunn (MA ’01), reported the Times Colonist (Victoria) March 17. He delved deep into the music when he was nine, hosted an all-metal radio show at 15 and played in a number of underground acts by the time he was of legal drinking age. But never did the towering redhead with shoulder-length hair imagine himself co-directing and starring in a heavy-metal documentary. Entitled Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey. Dunn, 32, eventually came around to co-director Scott McFadyen’s way of thinking, and wound up being not only this very entertaining film’s heart, but its conscience.

Now based in Toronto, Dunn and McFadyen met in Victoria during the 1993 Clayoquot Sound protests. McFadyen, a Toronto native, gave Dunn one of his first breaks as a musician when he put the bassist and his local funk-rock band, Fungkus, on the bill at a Clayoquot Sound benefit concert. Both moved east in 1998, McFadyen to pursue a career in the music side of the film industry and Dunn to earn his master’s degree in social anthropology from York University. Their next project together is another documentary, this time on the globalization of metal, a topic close to Dunn’s heart. McFadyen says it has already been sold – unfinished – to distributors in Canada and Brazil. Dunn plans to return to school either at York University or in Britain to pursue a PhD, portions of which will be included in the upcoming film. His dissertation topic? The influx and political ramifications of heavy metal in Indonesia.

Racism complaints demand systemic change, says York’s ombudsperson

In a story about a new anti-racism officer at the University of Toronto, the Toronto Star noted March 17 that York University has full-time anti-racism offices that handle complaints as well as prevention of discrimination. “Until you have a really good education program for systemic change, you won’t lessen the number of complaints about discrimination,” said York ombudsperson Fiona Crean, director of the university’s Centre for Human Rights. “It’s a dual process.”

Liberal party changed its mind, says Raphael

While in opposition, Community and Social Services Minister Sandra Pupatello made the rounds of anti-poverty and faith groups commiserating with them about how awful the Conservative government was treating people on social assistance, wrote Dennis Raphael, professor in York’s School of Health Policy & Management in a letter to the Toronto Star March 16. Her party promised to end the clawback of the national child benefit to families on social assistance. Once elected, it changed its mind. Enough said.

Brooks to give lecture on taxes at UNB

An internationally recognized expert in tax law will bring his expertise to the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton for a free public lecture, reported The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton) March 17. Neil Brooks, a professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, is the guest speaker at UNB’s Ivan C. Rand Memorial Lecture Series on Thursday, March 23. Brooks’s lecture title is “The Times – Are They A Changin’? – Do the Costs of Raising Taxes Now Exceed the Benefits of the Welfare State?”

Failure is most jarring when it comes after high achievements

‘Ok, that’s time. Please stop writing and hand in your papers,” the professor said. I kept writing, though, frantically scribbling down some final words with hopes that my answer somewhat resembled the correct solution, wrote Richard Bloom in the latest in his series of columns on life as an MBA student at the Schulich School of Business in The Globe and Mail March 17. I went into the finance mid-term exam confident, having gotten good marks in the past and having studied the course material thoroughly and having completed practice questions on topics like the present value of an annuity, how to determine the real cost of a loan and the ins-and-outs of corporate financial planning. However, seconds after I handed in the exam, I got a sinking feeling in my stomach – one that I had never experienced during high school, my undergraduate years or out in the so-called real world.

The more I thought about it, wrote Bloom, I realized that failure is everywhere, happening not only to graduate students but also to everyone from the small-office worker to senior management at multi-billion-dollar organizations. A week after my exam, the professor walked into class carrying a large tote bag stuffed with our exams. You could see the terror on my classmates’ faces as we exchanged awkward glances, nervously sat up in our chairs and prepared to see how we had fared. “All in all, the class did fine,” the professor said, handing back the exams and explaining that the average was around 74 per cent. Not great, but not a fail – at least not officially. However, I did fall short of what I had wanted to achieve on the test.