By Alfea Donato
Not many students have movies playing across the country and on commercial flights.
But then again, not many students manage to film people getting kicked out of a Ukrainian street festival, doing an unplanned performance on the TTC and crashing a birthday party just on the first night of shooting.
Last week, fourth-year film student Justin Friesen’s short film Let’s Make Lemonade was announced as a finalist in the 2012 Air Canada enRoute Film Festival, and will play from November to December in Air Canada’s in-flight entertainment and select theatres in Canada. The film follows Toronto’s Lemon Bucket Orkestra, possibly the world’s only Balkan-klezmer-gypsy-party-
The 14-member band has received coverage from CNN, CBC and The Huffington Post for their unusual approach to European folk music and spontaneous live shows.
Calling them a “motley assortment of cultural ambassadors,” Friesen first met the Lemon Bucket Orkestra through a friend whose thesis film was scored by them. After watching the band play for the first time, Friesen frontrunner Mark Marcyzk if anyone had made a documentary on them.
“I was shocked when he said no,” says Friesen. “Seeing them play got me thinking…they have a story and a really unique musical performance that needs to be shown to the world.”
Let’s Make Lemonade was shot last fall. Filming took three months.
In May, the film won second runner-up for best documentary in Ryerson’s Image Arts exhibition festival, Maximum Exposure. After applying to the enRoute Film Festival earlier this year, Friesen learned in August that his movie had been selected along with 19 others.
“I’m amazed at how far the legs of this documentary continue to go,” he says. “You make a film, and a year later you might find it’s going places you might never have expected.”
Friesen is among three other finalists in the film festival, which will be judged by a jury of entertainment industry experts, including American Psycho director Mary Harron and Niv Fichman, producer of Passchendaele. But the public’s opinion also counts. The People’s Choice Award will be determined from online voting.
Winners will go to the 35th International Short Film Festival in Clermont-Ferrand, France. The People’s Choice victor will win a trip for two to any North American destination.
The films can be viewed on the enRoute website. Voting opens for a week on Nov. 1.