York’s filmmakers rake in the cinematography awards

York University filmmakers are earning accolades at home and abroad for their work on the small and big screen.

Recent graduates of the Department of Film made an impressive showing at the annual Canadian Society of Cinematographers (CSC) Awards recently, capturing the Student Cinematography Award and three of the five nominations in that category for productions developed as class projects at York.

Right: Still shot from Our Future is Bright

Award-winner Tyson Burger (BFA Spec. Hons. ’09) was recognized for his cinematography work on Our Future is Bright, a graduation film written, directed and edited by Rebecca Gruihn (BFA Spec. Hons. ’09). The CSC jury was in agreement with the jurors for CineSiege, York’s annual student film showcase, where Our Future is Bright earned Burger the Kodak Award for Best Cinematography last fall. Also nominated for the CSC award were Sarah Blevins (BFA Hons. ’09) for Doppelganger and Stu Marks (BFA Spec. Hons. ’09) for The Golden Pin, which was also a CineSiege 2009 nominee.

Acclaimed cinematographer, director and York film Professor Ali Kazimi attended the CSC Awards ceremony to support and celebrate the three York nominees. “There was a real buzz about their films,” said Kazimi. “Many jury members mentioned the very high standard of York student films, and how that speaks volumes about the well-rounded education that we provide our students. I couldn’t agree more.”

Left: Still shot from The Golden Pin

Also in the CSC Awards lineup was David Greene (BA ’92), who took the prize for best cinematography in a TV series for his work on episode seven of "Lost Girl". Greene and Rene Ohashi (BFA ’76) were both nominated in the TV drama category, for Turn the Beat Around and Jesse Stone: Thin Ice respectively.

Former York film student Adriana Maggs is scoring a big hit with her debut feature, Grown Up Movie Star. Maggs wrote, directed and co-produced the film, an edgy coming-of-age story about a young teen in rural Newfoundland. It premiered internationally as an official selection of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, where its lead actress, Tatiana Maslany, won the World Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Breakout Performance. The film has gone on to theatrical release across Canada.

Right: Still shot from Grown Up Movie Star

Film alumnus Robert C. Cooper (BFA Spec. Hons. ’90) was honoured April 19 as one of the nation’s top screenwriters by the Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) for his work on the television series "Stargate Universe". Theatre alumna Shelley Scarrow (BFA Spec. Hons. ’94) took the WGC prize in the animation category for her episode “The Sand Witch Project” in the series "Total Drama Action".

On the festival circuit, alumni Nicolás Pereda (BFA Spec. Hons. ’05, MFA ’07) and Josh Bonnetta (BFA Spec. Hons. ‘04), picked up top awards at Toronto’s Images Festival earlier this month. Pereda’s feature film, Todo, en fin, el silencio lo ocupaba (All Things Were Now Overtaken by Silence), which received a four-star review from NOW Magazine, tied for the fest’s grand Images Prize. Bonnetta’s experimental, animated short Long Shadows won the Deluxe Cinematic Vision Award for excellence and innovation in visual realization.

Left: Photo still from Many Years Later

Medalia de onoare (Medal of Honour), a script developed at York by former graduate student Tudor Voican, was produced last year and has been reaping festival honours ever since. The film tied for the Best Screenplay Award and won the international Fipresci Prize at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival. It also won Best Script and the Audience Award at the Torino Film Festival in 2009, and received a special mention for the Cineuropa Prize at the 2010 Miami International Film Festival.

Upcoming alumni film screenings in Toronto include The View From Here by John Ibbitson (BFA Spec. Hons. ’05) at the Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film & Video Festival (May 20-30) and Many Years Later, a photo and video installation by York film technician and alumnus Marcos Arriaga (MFA ’03), running until May 22 as part of the MayWorks Festival of Working People and the Arts.