CineSIEGE: York student films sparkle on the silver screen

A juried selection of cutting-edge productions fresh from York University’s Film Department will be screened Oct. 11 at the Royal Cinema in CineSIEGE, the department’s annual showcase of outstanding student films.

The jurors for this fifth annual event are five distinguished Canadian film and media people: Salah Bachir, president of Cineplex Media; Maclean’s long-time film critic and feature writer Brian Johnson; and award-winning filmmakers Midi Onodera, Gail Singer and Clement Virgo.

CineSIEGE will feature riveting dramas, provocative documentaries and genre-defying experimental works selected from a shortlist of 23 productions. Jurors will be on hand to introduce their picks, explain why they were chosen for the screening, and award certificates of merit.

Winning a coveted spot on the CineSIEGE program is the result of a rigorous selection process. All 172 films produced at York last year, by students from first through fourth year, were reviewed in-house and then pared down to the 23 nominees for jury consideration.

The jurors:

Salah Bachir (right) is president of Cineplex Media, a division of Cineplex Entertainment LP. The company oversees the advertising at Cineplex Odeon, Famous Players and Galaxy Cinemas, and publishes the in-theatre magazines Famous, Famous Québec and Famous Kids. Bachir served on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Film Centre for nine years.

Brian Johnson (left) began his career as a movie critic in 1986 for Maclean’s magazine. His writing credits include the Montreal Gazette, The Globe and Mail, Saturday Night, Toronto Life, Chatelaine, Flare and Rolling Stone. A frequent guest on radio and television, he co-hosted CBC Newsworld’s On the Arts for three seasons. Johnson covered the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) for two decades, and in 2002 he published a history of the festival, titled Brave Films, Wild Nights: 25 Years of Festival Fever. His debut short film, Tell Me Everything, premiered at TIFF this year.

Midi Onodera (left) is an internationally recognized director, producer and screenwriter. Over her 20-year career, her films have been screened at many prestigious museums and festivals, among them the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; the International Festival of Documentary and Short Films in Bilbao, Spain; and the international film festivals of Rotterdam, Berlin and Toronto. Currently, Onodera is pursuing her interest in low-tech “toy camera” technology interfacing with high tech interactive elements.

Gail Singer (right) is an award-winning filmmaker whose works have won accolades at festivals worldwide. She has produced, directed or written some two dozen films on a wide range of topics in various genres, including feature-length fiction and documentary, television and IMAX productions. She has directed films in the UK, South America, Japan, Russia, Thailand, South Africa, Nepal and Israel as well as Toronto, where she taught at York University for nine years. She is currently developing a multicultural kitchen museum for the City of Toronto.

The first feature film by Clement Virgo (right), Rude, received its world premiere at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival and went on to play at festivals around the world. His second feature, Love Come Down (2000), took top prize at numerous festivals, including New York City’s Urbanworld Fest, Acapulco, Jamerican, and the British Black Filmmakers Festival. His third feature, Lie With Me, premiered at TIFF in 2005 followed by screenings at the international film festivals in Pusan, Korea, Berlin and Sydney. His short films for the big and small screen have likewise won acclaim; Save My Lost Nigga’ Soul (1993) was awarded Best Film at the Toronto, Fespaco and Chicago film festivals. More recently, Virgo directed several productions for the HBO & Showtime TV network, including the one-hour dramas The Wire, Soul Food and The L Word.

CineSIEGE offers an excellent opportunity to talent-scout up-and-coming filmmakers who dare to challenge the status quo. The event has helped to launch numerous young film artists whose CineSIEGE entries have gone on to the Toronto International Film Festival and many other festivals. Such success stories include The School (2003) by Matthew Miller and Ezra Krybus, Hugh Gibson’s Hogtown Blues (2004) and Tess Girard’s Benediction (2005).

“CineSIEGE has grown into one of the most anticipated events of our season,” said York film department Chair Barbara Evans. “Our program is full of gifted filmmakers, and we are very proud to bring their works to the public in this forum.”

CineSIEGE is made possible through the generous support of Cinespace Film Studios. The event runs one night only, Wed. Oct. 11 starting at 7pm at the Royal Cinema, 608 College St. Admission is $5 at the door. For more information, visit the CineSIEGE Web site or call 416-736-5149 ext. 22172.