The Department of Film in the Faculty of Fine Arts celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, and is marking this milestone with a series of events highlighting past achievements and looking to the future.
One of the “birthday” productions is The 40 Film, a specially commissioned compilation of one-minute clips from 40 student films made throughout the department’s lifespan. It’s a fun, fast trip through time, talent and technology, seen through the creative lens of a generation of alumni from Canada’s first university film department.
The York community will have the chance to see The 40 Film at a special outdoor screening taking place Thursday, Sept. 30 at 7pm in the Harry W. Arthurs Common. The movie will unspool in a continuous loop from 7 to 9pm, on a giant screen on the lawn. Everyone on campus is invited to drop by to enjoy the flick and free popcorn.
“The 40 Film is a showcase of the wonderful talent incubated in the department and the moving images our students have created over the past four decades,” says Professor Amnon Buchbinder (right), chair of the Department of Film. “But in a broader sense it’s also a showcase of the evolution of moving images themselves. It’s fascinating to see how form and technology have evolved from Super 8 and 16-mm film in the ’70s to the HD [high-definition] digital cameras of today, and how the influences on film students’ voices have changed – even while certain telltale aspects of the film student experience have remained the same.”
The 40 Film includes early efforts by illustrious alumni such as Robert Cooper (BFA Spec. Hons. ’90), co-creator of the “Stargate” TV series; feature film and arts documentary producer and Rhombus Media founder Niv Fichman (Hon. LLD ’98) (Hobo with a Shotgun, Passchendaele, Blindness, The Red Violin, Thirty-Two Short Films about Glenn Gould); cinematographer Paul Sarossy (BFA Spec. Hons. ’86) (Chloe, Adoration, Ararat); author and humourist Will Ferguson (BFA Spec. Hons. ’90) (Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw, How to be a Canadian) and many others.
The clips were also chosen to represent the wide spectrum of work produced by York film students over the years, including fiction, documentaries and experimental works, and ranging from the artfully serious to farcically sophomoric. Along the way The 40 Film records changes in student fashions, Toronto streetscapes, the York campus and other ephemera caught by the cameras.
“This film, which was created by PhD students Lee Knuttila (MA ’09) and Malcolm Morton (MA ’10) and graduating BFA student Janna Jeffrey (BFA Spec. Hons. ’10), embodies our wish to deepen the relationship between our past students, who have helped create the film culture we have today, and our current students who represent the future of film,” says Buchbinder. “This reflects and supports our mission to nurture creative, bold and meaningful work by new generations of filmmakers and scholars.”
Special preview screening attracts film alumni
The 40 Film had a special preview screening at a festive alumni event hosted by the Department of Film and Faculty of Fine Arts (FFA) on Sept. 15 at Toronto’s Camera Bar. More than 100 former students gathered for the show and reception, delighted to reconnect with classmates and faculty members from their alma mater.
Right: From left, Film alumni Julie Ng, Rachel O’Neill and Dylan Reibling
Alumni in attendance ranged fromThe Globe & Mail columnist Warren Clements (BA Spec. Hons. ’74), a member of the department’s first graduating class, to Athens-based Costas Andreopoulos (BFA Spec. Hons. ’83), managing director (Greece and Romania) for 20th Century Fox, to former MFA student Igor Drljaca (BFA Spec. Hons ’07), fresh from the prestigious Telluride Film Festival in Colorado where his class project, The Woman in Purple, had its world premiere.
Extending the party atmosphere from the concurrently running Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), two of the seven York film alumni with feature productions showing at TIFF this year were in attendance: veteran provocateur Bruce LaBruce (BA Spec. Hons. ’83, MA ’88) and Ryan Redford (BFA Spec. Hons. ’01), who had just made his feature debut (see YFile, Aug. 18 and Sept. 8).
|Above: From left, Professor Barbara Evans; Mamdouh Shoukri, York president & vice-chancellor; FFA Executive Officer Carol Altilia; FFA Dean Barbara Sellers-Young; Jennifer Sloan, vice-president university relations; and Professor Tereza Barta|
Buchbinder welcomed the crowd and introduced special guests, York University President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri and James Allan, senior director, alumni, both of whom eloquently congratulated the Film Department on its anniversary and the alumni on their achievements, and thanked the grads for being such great ambassadors for the program.
|Above: Film alumni Maya Bankovic, Ben Lichty, Karyn Sullivan, Valesca Cerski and Mathew Miller|
The Camera Bar event, made possible with the generous support of the York University Alumni Office, was the first-ever dedicated alumni gathering organized by the Department of Film. After the success of this inaugural venture, the department is already planning another alumni event, timed to coincide with the end-of-year Finish Line film screenings to be held on York’s Keele campus next April.