York talent featured in 2006 Hot Docs lineup

Last week the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival unveiled its lineup of films. Running April 28 to May 7, the festival is North America’s largest documentary festival. These are not just movies, but films with substance that speak to the human condition, which is the heart of the festival’s mission.

Among the 99 documentaries from 23 countries are films by fourth-year York film students Will Beauchamp and Chelsea McMullan, and York film alumnus Larry Weinstein (BFA ’80). Their productions will be screened in the Canadian Spectrum category, where they will compete for Best Canadian/International short documentary.

“Selected from hundreds of submissions, films in the Canadian Spectrum category represent the absolute best in Canadian documentary, featuring voices from across the country and highlighting the diversity and vigour of the country’s cultural landscape,” said Lynne Fernie, Canadian programmer for the festival.

Beauchamp’s Marianne (2004, 7 min.) is a charming portrait of a modest hotdog vendor who plies her trade outside Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, where she serves up the best “dogs” in town along with a generous dollop of love, healing and laughter.

Left: A scene from Will Beauchamp’s film Marianne

When rumours circulate that the city plans to vastly increase licence fees and tender hot dog vendor licences to fast-food corporations, the customers rally around their beloved community hero.

Marianne is slated for its professional world premiere May 2 at 7pm at the Isabel Bader Theatre in Toronto, with a repeat screening May 5 at 1:30pm at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) Theatre.

Beauchamp embarked on the movie-making business equipped with only a Canon ES970 camcorder, a store-bought microphone and a golf ball retriever for a boom pole, plus a whole lot of creativity. His credits include the horror film Christian (1997); crime thriller Critical Force (1999); science fiction chiller Pseudoworld (2001); pariahs (2002), which won the Best Feature Film in the International Teen Movie Festival; Scotch and Soda (2003); and Little Pictures (2004). Beauchamp previously served as the Edmonton representative for Warner Bros. Canada Inc.

McMullan’s In a Perfect World (2005, 17 min.) offers a candid glimpse into the glamour and glitz of beauty pageants. The film opens with Kylie McMullan (sister of Chelsea) feeling unsure about being a contestant, but her success as Miss Fraser Valley, BC inspires her to make a run for the big tiara at the Miss World Canada competition. McMullan shadows her sister with her camera, capturing intimate sibling confessions, catty competitors and suave celebrity guests.

Left: Beauty pageants through the eye of filmmaker Chelsea McMullan

In a Perfect World is scheduled for its professional world premiere April 29 at 9:45pm with a repeat screening May 3 at 4:30pm at the ROM Theatre.

Creating travelogues during family trips as a child was McMullan’s first foray into film. In 2003, with funding from the Youth Action Network and in partnership with Charles Street Video, McMullan started YDocs, a program for youth from the greater Toronto area. The program included workshop-based sessions focusing on activism and documentary filmmaking, and provided opportunities to work with activist filmmakers from the community in the creation of a film. Since then, she has created many short narratives and documentaries of her own that have been screened at numerous film festivals.

Marianne and In a Perfect World were two of the seven films to hit the big screen last fall at the Bloor Cinema when they got the nod from jurors at CineSiege, the York Film Department’s annual juried showcase of outstanding student productions.

Commissioned in honour of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s 250th birthday, Weinstein’s Mozartballs (2006, 55 min.) is a light-hearted tribute to one of the world’s most beloved classical composers. The film explores what Mozart symbolizes in our age through a motley crew of characters: a Mozart-obsessed retired Swiss schoolteacher, a woman in Oklahoma who believes her body is inhabited by Mozart’s spirit, a California computer programmer who has created a new Mozart cello concerto, and an Austrian astronaut who carried a score of The Magic Flute and chocolate Mozartkugel into space.

Mozartballs opens April 29 at 7pm with a repeat screening May 2 at 1:30pm at the Isabel Bader Theatre.

Weinstein is a partner in the celebrated arts documentary production company Rhombus Media, which he co-founded in 1979 with his York classmates Niv Fichman and Barbara Willis Sweete.

Right: Making Mozartkugel

Arguably Canada’s pre-eminent director of films on musical subjects, Weinstein has worked with many of the world’s major cultural broadcasters. His productions have been seen in over 40 countries around the world and have won numerous awards, including multiple Geminis and Emmys, an Oscar nomination and the Louvre’s coveted “Classique en Images” Award.

As well, Weinstein has been honoured with several retrospectives of his work, including tributes at MOFFOM (Prague), DocAviv (Tel Aviv) and last year’s Hot Docs festival. His long list of credits includes September Songs: The Music of Kurt Weill; The War Symphonies: Shostakovich Against Stalin; Solidarity Song: The Hanns Eisler Story; Ravel’s Brain; Stormy Weather – The Music of Harold Arlen; Beethoven’s Hair; and Burnt Toast, a suite of eight comic mini-operas.

Visit the Hot Docs Web site for more information on scheduling and tickets.

This article was submitted to YFile by Mary-Lou Schagena in the Faculty of Fine Arts.