Accolades abound for York filmmakers

April has brought a raft of accolades for students, faculty and alumni of York University’s Department of Film.

For the second consecutive year, a York filmmaker took home the top student prize at the prestigious Canadian Society of Cinematographers (CSC) Awards, presented April 2 at a gala ceremony at the Westin Harbour Castle Conference Centre in Toronto.

Recent grad Gregory Biskup (BFA ‘10) was recognized for his cinematography for Vidalonga, a graduation production directed by Elisa L. Iannacone (BFA ‘10). Vidalonga was also a nominee at Gregory Biskup. Photo by John NarvaliCineSiege 2010, York’s annual student film showcase.

Left: Gregory Biskup. Photo by John Narvali

“The cinematographer’s role is to create evocative and beautiful images that ultimately serve the interests of the story and the director’s vision,” said award-winning cinematographer, director and York film Professor Ali Kazimi. “Greg’s work on Vidalonga was both thoughtful and stylish. His win is a reflection of his successful collaboration with writer-director Elisa Iannacone, and, in fact, the entire team on that film.”

Biskup’s classmate Tess Marie Garneau (BFA ‘10) was a runner-up for her work as director of photography on the dramatic short Play. Stop. Rewind., directed by Gerald Patrick Fantone (BFA ‘10), which won Best Film at CineSiege 2010.

“Tess is one of many women cinematographers emerging from the York program. Her work contributes significantly in making Play. Stop. Rewind. an emotionally and visually stunning film,” Kazimi said.

Veteran cinematographer, alumnus Paul Sarossy (BFA ’86) earned two nominations in the Theatrical Feature Category, for Atom Egoyan’s thriller Chloe and Dover Kosashvili’s Anton Chekhov’s The Duel, respectively.

 From left, Images Festival Executive Director Scott Miller Berry, York film Professors Philip Hoffman and Michael Zryd, and LIFT Executive Director Ben Donoghue. Photo: Henry Chan
Above: From left, Images Festival Executive Director Scott Miller Berry, York film Professors Philip Hoffman and Michael Zryd, and LIFT Executive Director Ben Donoghue. Photo: Henry Chan

A week later, York had another reason to celebrate. Film Professor Philip Hoffman was honoured with the Tom Berner Award on April 9, at the closing night gala of the Images Festival, North America’s largest fest for experimental and independent moving image culture. The award, sponsored by the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto (LIFT), is presented annually to an individual who has provided extraordinary support to the cause of independent filmmaking in Toronto.

“Philip Hoffman is already one of the most acclaimed and influential experimental filmmakers currently working in Canada,” said Hoffman’s colleague, Professor Michael Zryd, who nominated Hoffman for the award and presented it to him at the ceremony. “What is often overlooked is the extraordinary support he offers to independent filmmakers in numerous capacities: as a teacher and mentor, as a curator and programmer, and most strikingly, as founder of the Film Farm retreat, which touches the lives of many independent artists in Toronto and abroad.”

Sharing the winners’ podium at the festival with Hoffman were a York film alumnus and two current students.

The Images Prize, the grand prize of the fest, was awarded to Luo Li (BFA ‘05, MFA ‘09) for his feature video Rivers and my father (75 minutes, 2010), which he created as his master’s thesis project at York.

Billed as “a subtle combination of documentary and fiction filmmaking,” the work was inspired by stories Li’s father told of his childhood growing up on the Yangtze River in China. Rivers and my father, which garnered a four-star review from Toronto’s Eye Weekly magazine, had the honour of making its North American premiere as the opening night gala screening at the 2011 Images Festival.

Both prizewinners in the fest’s S is for Student program were graduation projects by students in York’s BFA film production program.

Brad Tinmouth’s Video Sculptures (6 minutes, 2010), received the York University award for Best Student Film, which is sponsored by York but selected by audience choice.

Meelad Moaphi’s intimate experimental narrative Arrhythmia (8 minutes, 2009), took the Vtape Award for Best Student Video.