York filmmakers screen big at Images and Hot Docs Festivals

Toronto film buffs will barely have time to recoup after 10 days of exciting contemporary moving image programming at the Images Festival April 1 to 10, before they will be lining up again for more thought-provoking films at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival running April 29 to May 9.

Alumni, students and faculty from York’s Department of Film are making an impressive showing at both festivals, whose playbills include several productions originally developed as class projects at York.

The Images Festival, a showcase for cutting-edge independent and experimental work, takes place primarily in downtown Toronto venues. However, this year, Images is incorporating the International Experimental Media Congress, which will bring an audience to York’s Keele campus on April 8 for a presentation on 3-D media production. Led by film Professor Ali Kazimi, one of the researchers involved in the 3D Film Innovation Consortium (3D FLIC) project (see YFile, Feb. 23), this event takes place at 6:30pm in the Future Cinema Lab located in 303 Joan & Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts.

Film Professor John Greyson’s Covered (14 minutes, 2009) was part of the Images opening night gala at the Bloor Cinema April 1. With his signature appropriation of pop culture and mirrored narrative, Greyson documented the violent mobs protesting the opening of the Queer Sarajevo Festival in 2008, giving a larger commentary on film’s function in the fabric of society and culture.

Above: A scene from film Professor John Greyson’s Covered, a short film documenting the violent mobs protesting the opening of the Queer Sarajevo Festival in 2008

Greyson is also part of the Images keynote address, which features him in conversation with iconic dance/film pioneer Yvonne Rainer tomorrow night at 7pm in the Ontario College of Art & Design  Auditorium. This event takes place the day after the Yvonne Rainer Immersion at York’s Nat Taylor Cinema, where several of Rainer’s groundbreaking films are screening, followed by a public conversation with Rainer, as part of the Joan & Martin Goldfarb Summer Institute in Visual Arts & Film. (See YFile, March 31.) 

York alumni productions at Images include recent graduate Luo Li’s (BFA Spec. Hons. ’05, MFA ’09) debut feature, I Went to the Zoo the Other Day (69 minutes, 2009). A highlight of the On Screen 1 program on April 2, Li’s video explores issues of immigration and community as it follows a pair of friends on a trip to the zoo. The zoo environment echoes the city in the sense that virtually all the life contained within has arrived from elsewhere.

Right: An image from the short film I went to the Zoo the Other Day by recent grad Luo Li

The on Screen 5 program  featured Long Shadows (12 minutes, 2009) by alumnus Josh Bonnetta (BFA Spec. Hons. ’04) April 5 at Workman Arts in the St. Anne’s Parish Hall. This experimental animation depicts a series of disconnected amorphous characters in dream-like settings.

The S is for Student program, co-curated by fourth-year York film student Meelad Moaphi, also unspooled April 5 at Workman Arts. Among the titles featured was (cupping) (four minutes, 2009) by Moaphi’s classmate Brad Tinmouth. This charming one-take performance, described as a “do-it-yourself casting out of impurities”, was the only Canadian selection in the program.

Todo, en fin, el silencio lo ocupaba (61 minutes, 2010), a poetic, black-and-white “film within a film” by alumnus Nicolás Pereda (BFA Spec. Hons. ’05, MFA ’07), is showing today at the Innis Town Hall. This intriguing production offers a film crew’s recording of Mexican activist performance artist Jesusa Rodriguez reciting poetry, mixed with banal conversations as the crew positions and repositions the lights in take after take.

Alumna Franci Duran (MFA ’08) is participating in One Take Super 8, a challenging program where 30 filmmakers are given one cartridge of Super 8 film to be shot, processed and projected unaltered. Even the filmmakers themselves haven’t yet seen the resulting images, which premiere April 7 at the Polish Combatants’ Hall.

For screening times, venue addresses, ticket info and more, visit the Images Festival Web site.

Two productions by York student filmmakers will share the screen later this month at Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary film festival, conference and market.

Yuval Sagiv’s (MFA ’09) thesis production, How I Filmed the War (75 minutes, 2009), will receive its world premiere as part of the festival’s Canadian Spectrum program.

Left: Grad Yuval Sagiv’s thesis production How I Filmed the War will premiere at Hot Docs

In his film, Sagiv decodes and deconstructs Geoffrey H. Malins’ hugely successful British First World War propaganda film The Battle of the Somme. Emotionally devastating clips from the original production are interwoven with clips from Malins’ controversial autobiography and conflicting historical accounts. In the Hot Docs program, filmmaker Gisèle Gordon hails Sagiv’s work as a “riveting experimental doc that unravels fascinating secrets and manipulations.”

Screening in tandem with Sagiv’s film is Even Flowers Wake Up in the Morning (six minutes, 2009), an experimental short by third-year York student Tara Khalili making its Canadian premiere. A poetic meditation on memory and loss, it received an honourable mention last fall at CineSiege, York’s annual juried showcase of student productions.

Right: Third-year film student Tara Khalili’s short film Even Flowers Wake up in the Morning will also be screened at Hot Docs

How I Filmed the War and Even Flowers Wake Up in the Morning will be presented May 2 and May 8 at the Innis Town Hall. For more information and tickets, visit the Hot Docs online box office