Life after CineSiege: Big-screen success for York films

Year after year, York films make the cut, garnering plenty of accolades on the festival circuit. CineSiege, the Department of Film’s annual juried showcase screening of outstanding student productions, often serves as a launching pad for works that go on to festivals and awards in the “reel” world.

Many of the  productions shortlisted for CineSiege 2007 are currently celebrating  successes at home and abroad.

Murphy’s Law, directed by Chris Murphy (BFA ‘07), was part of the CineSiege jury selection and won the award for Best Documentary. It is an intimate portrait of the filmmaker’s family, depicting the relationship between a father and his youngest son as seen through the eyes of his oldest. 

Right: A scene from Chris Murphy’s award-winning documentary Murphy’s Law

Last week, the film was given two screenings at Toronto’s Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival. It has also been  accepted as a finalist in the International Film Schools Competition (IFSC) to be held in Mexico City this summer.

Rock Paper Scissors by Jamie Cussen (BFA ‘07) was also accepted into the IFSC and recently took the prize for Best Short at Toronto‘s Canadian Film Festival. This comedy is set in the orange groves of Florida where three nine-year-olds embark on a quest for beer and cigarettes, but find maturity and love. The film scooped up the prize for Outstanding International Short at the Beijing International Student Short Film and Video Festival last November and was shown as an official selection at the Austin and Atlantic international film festivals as well as the DaKino fest in Bucharest, Romania.

Left: Jamie Cussen’s coming of age film Rock Paper Scissors recently took the prize for Best Short at Toronto’s Canadian Film Festival

In an interesting sidebar, Murphy and Cussen edited each other’s films and share in the accolades of both productions.

Jared Raab‘s (BFA ‘07) ¡Viva Jopo! – a quirky tale about a janitor at a nursing home who gets swept up in one resident’s secret revolutionary plot to overthrow the tyrannical director – was an official selection of the Edmonton International Film Festival last fall. The film’s director of photography, Chuck Taylor (BFA ‘07), was recognized for Best Cinematography at CineSiege and for Best Student Cinematography by the Canadian Society of Cinematographers (CSC) last month.

Also honoured by the CSC was Matthew Lloyd (BFA  ‘06), who was the runner-up for the cinematography prize for his camera work on the dramatic short, Four Walls. Directed by Raha Shirazi (BFA ‘06), Four Walls got the nod from the jury plus an honourable mention for Best Fiction Film at CineSiege 2007.

Left: Matthew Lloyd’s camera work in Four Walls garnered recognition from the CineSiege 2007 jury

This gripping drama sets three women from different social classes in the Islamic Republic of Iran in one room, clashing and connecting in a night that will forever change their lives. The film was an official selection at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival and Real to Reel fest and was also screened at the Berlinale Talent Campus in Germany earlier this year.

Souvenirs From Asia, Joyce Wong’s (BFA ‘07) witty family drama about cultural misunderstandings within cross-cultural adoption, recently won Outstanding Canadian Short at Toronto’s Reelworld festival. The production has joined Wong’s CineSiege 2006 hit Banana Bruises,a satire on inter-racial intimacy, on the festival circuit. Both films screened in March at the Hong Kong International Film & Video Awards and the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival.

Right: Souvenirs From Asia charts the experience of a family coping with cultural misunderstandings within cross-cultural adoption

The Exquisite Corpses, a surrealist camp-musical about sex and death directed by David Frankovich (BFA ‘07), was a CineSiege jury selection and runner-up for Best Alternative Film. It went on to be screened at the Toronto New Works Show in March and will be featured again at Toronto‘s Over the Top fest in May.

Two other CineSiege 2007 directors, fourth-year students Amar Wala  and Lesley Loksi Chan, were noted in Now Magazine film critic Cameron Bailey’s Top 10 in January of this year.

Wala was cited for his production The Good Son – a true story of a young boy who is forced to protect his family’s honour while risking his father’s freedom. It received the prize for Best Script at CineSiege and was an official selection at the Dubai International Film Festival last December.

Left: Amar Wala’s film The Good Son was cited by Now Magazine’s Cameron Bailey as one of his Top 10 in January

Chan’s compelling production, Wanda and Miles, was a jury selection at CineSiege, where it won for Best Fiction Film as well as Best Sound. This film tells the tale of two people on the move with heavy suitcases and heavy hearts. 

Wanda and Miles has gone on to win the Most Innovative Film Production Award at the REEL Asian fest and the Trinity Square Video Visionary Artists Award and was an official selection at the Toronto New Works Show.

Right: Wanda and Miles by Lesley Loksi Chan reaped accolades at the REEL Asian fest

Earlier this month, Chan curated the "S is for Student" program for the Images Festival in Toronto, Canada’s leading showcase for independent and experimental film and new media works. Her short film proposal was accepted for the Images/Charles Street Video Residency Award at the festival. Chan’s prize, valued at more than $10,000, is a commission to create a new short to premiere at the 2009 Images Festival and includes video production and post-production services, an artist fee and membership in the well-known Charles Street Video production facility.