York film students enjoy success on the festival circuit

There’s a buzz in the air these days in York University’s Film Department as news comes in about student successes at local and international festivals.

Marilena de la P7 (Marilena from P7), a 45-minute fiction film co-written and co-produced by graduate screenwriting student Tudor Voican, is receiving its official premiere this month at the legendary Cannes Film Festival in France. It was selected to be part of a series of special screenings for the 45e Semaine Internationale de la Critique (45th International Critics’ Week) running at the festival May 18-26. Hard on the heels of Cannes, the film will then make its US debut next month at the Brooklyn International Film Festival in New York.

Right: A scene from Marilena de la P7

Marilena de la P7 is about Andrei who falls in love with a prostitute, named Marilena, in the outskirts of Bucharest,” explained Voican, who co-wrote the script with the film’s Romanian director, Cristian Nemescu. The boy, who is a 13 year old teenager, decides one day to steal a trolleybus in order to impress Marilena. 

Meanwhile, York student productions at Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, which wrapped up May 7, were well received by the media and audiences alike (see the April 27 issue of YFile).

Marianne, by fourth-year student Will Beauchamp, was one of CBC Radio’s “picks” at Hot Docs and was featured on Global TV’s national news. Beauchamp appeared on the newscast along with a clip from his film, a portrait of a modest hotdog vendor who plies her trade outside Mount Sinai Hospital in downtown Toronto. Enamoured with Beauchamp’s production, Global TV’s crew tracked down Marianne at her hotdog stand and interviewed her, too.

In a Perfect World, a film about the glitz and glamour of beauty pageants by Beauchamp’s classmate Chelsea McMullan, was likewise a hit, and the director charmed the audience during the question-and-answer session following her Hot Docs screening.

York film alumna Tess Girard’s (BFA ’05) fourth-year production, Benediction, continues to chalk up festival credits. It was shown at the San Francisco International Film Festival last month in the Golden Gate Awards (GGA) competition in the Best New Visions category. The GGAs honor innovation in documentaries, animation, shorts, experimental, television and youth-produced works. Girard’s film was one of 58 official selections, whittled down from 1,600 submissions from around the world.

Last year, Benediction won a special jury citation at the Canadian Student Film Showcase and went on to screenings at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Canadian Student Film Festival in Montreal, where it won the Norman McLaren Award, and Cine-World Film Festival in Sarasota, Florida. Girard’s attention-grabbing film will next be seen at the World Wide Shorts Film Festival in Toronto in June.

“We’re so proud of our students,” said Film Department Chair Barbara Evans. “It’s such a thrill to hear of their successes ‘out there’. And of course, it’s also a testament to the quality of the film program at York.”

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