York’s Fine Arts Festival showcases ‘reel’ talent

York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts is celebrating its resident talent with the York Fine Arts Festival, featuring more than 40 public events packed into a three-week period running March 9-April 1, 2007.

The Department of Film is contributing an outstanding lineup of emerging and established artists to the Fine Arts Festival. Productions by York film students – who regularly go on to show their work and win prizes in national and international film festivals – are showcased in York Shorts – The Reel Thing! on March 19. Screenings and presentations by three leading lights of the Canadian film scene are featured in the new Norman Jewison Series on March 15 and 23, and The Independents series on March 22.

York Shorts – The Reel Thing! brings 10 festival favourites produced by York film students to the big screen on March 19. The screening takes place in the new, state-of-the-art Price Family Cinema in 102 Accolade East.

The program includes Shetu Modi’s documentary Deflowering Bollywood, where second-generation Indo-Canadians express both their love of this popular cinema and their dismay at how it’s changing; Love Letters, a filmic love letter to celebrities from Michelle Lovegrove Thomson; and Luo Li’s experimental Fly, a lyrical impression of the flight of birds.

Right: A scene from Deflowering Bollywood

Young voices come to the fore in Chelsea McMullan’s Plume, chronicling two boys’ pick-pocketing efforts to raise funds for their first sexual encounter; Lindsay MacKay’s We’re on our Way, about three schoolchildren trying to get their bus driver fired; and Joyce Wong’s bittersweet Banana Bruises, captures the joys and woes of an Asian kid trying to fit in. Sinara Rozo’s Waste Symphony delivers an audiovisual opera about frantic consumption, waste and its ecological consequences, while Lesley Chan’s lighthearted Compost Mon Amour portrays a Canadian mycologist who’s looking for fresh romance, only to find that things get a little mouldy.

Left: Joyce Wong’s Banana Bruises

The festival also marks the launch of the Norman Jewison Series, named in honour of internationally acclaimed Canadian film director and producer Norman Jewison, whose generous support has made this program possible. The series brings distinguished film artists to York to meet with students, and to present and discuss their work in a public forum open to the wider community.

Acclaimed filmmaker Nettie Wild (right) inaugurates the series on March 15 with her riveting documentary Fix: The Story of an Addicted City. Over 18 months, Wild and her crew delved into the alleys and politics of Vancouver’s drug scene, where street level drug users forged an unexpected alliance with Philip Owen, the city’s conservative mayor. Together they struggled to open North America’s first safe injection site. It cost the mayor his job but galvanized the birth of a social movement. Fix won the 2003 Genie Award for Best Canadian Documentary. Wild’s previous films include A Place Called Chiapas (1999), and Blockade (1993). Film reviewer, journalist and Images Festival co-founder Marc Glassman will introduce Wild and moderate a Q & A following the screening.

Renowned film scholar William Boddy (BA ’75) is featured in a second Norman Jewison Series event on March 23, with a talk titled "The History & Future of Digital Cinema". An authority on media history, film and cultural studies, and an associate editor of Cinema Journal, Boddy is an alumnus of York’s film program and currently teaches at Baruch College, City University of New York. His interests include the social implications of contemporary digital media, and avant-garde and nonfiction filmmaking. Boddy is the author of New Media and Popular Imagination: Launching Radio, Television, and Digital Media in the United States (Oxford University Press, 2004) and Fifties Television: The Industry and Its Critics (University of Illionois Press, 1990).

Also featured in the festival is screenwriter Karen Walton, who presents her thriller Ginger Snaps as part of the Film Department’s indie cinema series, The Independents, on March 22. Walton will be introduced by York film professor, director and screenwriter Amnon Buchbinder, creator of the films The Fishing Trip and  Whole New Thing.

All events take place at York’s Keele campus and are free and open to the public. For more information, visit the York Fine Arts Festival Web site.