Film festival eats up student shorts

In Arts & Life /

By John Gemmell

Eighteen films directed by Ryerson image arts students will adorn the silver screen this weekend at the Bloor Cinema’s Student Shorts film festival – the brainchild of three recent graduates determined to earn recognition for themselves and their peers.

Alex Galeote, Iain Robinson, and Erin Tee have been planning the festival for a year. It’s an offshoot of Endless Films, the film and media company they launched while in their third year at Ryerson. Each of their final school projects will be shown, along with 29 productions by university and college students from Ontario and Quebec. “There aren’t a lot of venues for students to show off their work after school,” says Galeote. “You come to school, you make a few films, you watch them within school.”

The group began thinking of their futures while in school and realized they would be “screwed” if they didn’t get some publicity soon after graduation. “A regular festivals you have to compete with the multi-million dollar films for screen space,” says Robinson. “Nine times out of ten they’ll just take your film, no matter how good the story is, and just throw it in the trash.”

They went class-to-class soliciting submissions at Ryerson and got a huge response. They phoned and sent letters to faculty members at other film schools across the country to get the world out nationwide.

The three entrepreneurs also sought submissions earlier this year through their website, www.endless-films.com. By the June deadline they had received 72 submissions from post-secondary students across the country. They decided on the final program of 33 films in August.

Robinson expected to see common themes permeate the student films: dark and depressing. “I was really surprised,” says Robinson. “There was good light-hearted stuff; there were some good mysteries.”

“A lot of films from Ryerson actually stood out,” says Galeote. “We weren’t thinking ‘Let’s pick this [film] ’cause it’s from our school.’ We wanted the best work out there, and it just happened that Ryerson’s is.”

Galeote attributes the quality of Ryerson students’ work to the film school’s teaching method, a happy medium between theory, film history, and how to pull it all off. It took the team three days to lay out the festival’s line-up. They grouped the films into four programs to create an emotionally satisfying mĂ©lange of genres so the audience wouldn’t leave the cinema distraught. After a long depressing film, for example, there will be a light short film to keep people aroused.

“We wanted to have films that you could think about, and then films that were just fluffy,” says Robinson. The first two programs will show on Friday at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. respectively. The final two will follow at the same times on Saturday.

Student Shorts will follow the format of other film festivals  by having the directors introduce themselves before the screenings, followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience. “That’s one of the reasons why people go to festivals. They actually get to meet the people who make the stuff,” says Robinson.

A panel of three film industry honchos – a distributor, cinematographer, and director – will judge the films and will award the best three. Kodak, Videoscope, and CineQuip have furnished prizes, none of which Robinson, Galeote, or Tee are eligible to win.

Scouts from The Movie Network will be at the festival looking for films for a new series. Andre Bennett from Cinema Esperanca, a world-wide short film distribution organization, will also be there.

Tickets are $5 per program or $15 for all four and are available before the screenings at the Bloor Cinema, 504 Bloor St. West.

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