York filmmakers shine in the industry spotlight

York filmmakers are making headlines and shining in the industry spotlight. From film festival successes to prestigious awards, these cinematic storytellers have much to share.

CineSiege, York’s annual juried student film festival, is often the harbinger for success at festivals around the world. After, the winner of the CineSiege Best Sound Award in 2009, is the latest good news story. Inspired by Dennis Cooper’s poem "After School, Street Football, Eighth Grade", After is a humorous and dark coming-of-age film that visualizes three teenage boys’ fantasies about an older teenage football player.

Right: A scene from Mark Pariselli’s short film After

Directed by Mark Pariselli (BFA Spec. Hons. ’09), this short film is one of only two Canadian works shortlisted for the prestigious Iris Prize (the most valuable single prize lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender [LGBT] short film competition) and has screened at high-profile festivals all over the world, including in the cities of Paris, Athens, Montreal, Seattle and Chicago, and at festivals in Germany and Switzerland.

At the Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film & Video Festival that took place May 20 to 30, Pariselli received an honorable mention for the Best Up-and-Coming Toronto Film or Video Maker ward.

A Place Called Los Pereyra is the feature film debut by director Andres Livov-Macklin (BFA Spec. Hons. ’04) and producer Hugh Gibson (BFA Spec. Hons. ’04). The aluCine Toronto Latin Media Festival presents the Toronto premiere of this documentary film, screening July 9 to 12, at 7pm nightly at The Royal.

Above: A Place Called Los Pereyra tells the story of a tiny community in the Argentine jungle

It tells the story of how life in a tiny community in the Argentine jungle is unexpectedly changed by a visiting charitable mission. Subtle, sweet, often humorous, but also poignant, A Place Called Los Pereyra examines adolescence, charity and the clash of two worlds.

The two alumni will attend each screening and be available to answer questions after the film concludes.

Another York film duo picked up prizes at Toronto’s Worldwide Short Film Festival June 1 to 6 for their work on Slip, a six-minute dance film shot in a women’s change room. The Best Experimental Short Prize was won by director Chelsea McMullan (BFA Spec. Hons. ’06) and the Kodak Award for Best Cinematography in a Canadian Short went to cinematographer Maya Bankovic (BFA Spec. Hons. ’07). Choreographer Yvonne Ng (BFA Spec. Hons. ’87) is part of the creative team for Slip, which also includes Cole Alvis (BFA Spec. Hons. ’06) as producer and several York dance alumni in the cast.

Left: Slip is a six-minute dance film shot in a women’s change room and features the choreography of York alumna Yvonne Ng

Mishann Lau (BFA Spec. Hons. ’96) is the winner of the 2010 Astral Media Mentorship, coordinated by the Foundation for Women in Film & Television-Toronto (WIFT-T). The mentorship is a national competitive program that gives one Canadian female or male producer who is a visible minority, Aboriginal or an individual with a disability the opportunity to develop their marketing strategy and hone their pitch and presentation skills in preparation for the Banff World Television Festival, which took place June 13 to 16. Lau received a festival bursary and a five-day pre-festival mentorship that included meetings with Astral Media and three intensive workshops with industry consultants.

“This mentorship is so important at this time of limited resources within the industry,” said Sadia Zaman, WIFT-T executive director. “During day-to-day work there are few opportunities to simply build presentation skills and to focus on career development. Our partnership with Astral Media will allow Mishann to do just that."

Lau has been writing, directing and producing independent short films for the past 12 years. Her films have screened at the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, the International Women’s Film Festival in Cologne, Germany, and the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. She was also selected to create shorts for the 1997 On the Fly Festival, the 2004 Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival and the 2007 Pride Video Launch.

On the faculty front, three professors have had recent festival success.

Visual arts Professor Katherine Knight’s documentary about Newfoundland-based performance artist Colette Urban, Pretend Not To See Me, which made its Toronto premiere at the Reel Artists Film Festival (see YFile, Feb. 25), won a special mention at the Ecofilms International Film & Visual Arts Festival in Rhodos, Greece – its first international screening.

Film Professors John Greyson and Ali Kazimi’s film Rex Vs. Singh picked up the prize for best Canadian short film at Inside Out. (For more info on this experimental exploration of Vancouver history and human rights, see YFile, Aug. 20, 2008.)