Volume 96, Issue 87
Friday, March 14, 2003

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Film Festival gears up for weekend run

By Mark Polishuk
Gazette Staff

Grab your popcorn and your Roger Ebert foam thumb, and get ready to spend a few more hours than usual at the movies this weekend. Yes, it's that time of year again: the 2003 UWO Film Festival is upon us.

The ninth annual Film Festival, sponsored by the Western Undergraduate Film Society, is the biggest event yet. For the first time, the festival is expanding to two nights at Rainbow Cinemas in the Galleria mall, beginning tonight at 7 p.m., and Sat. Mar. 15 at 6 p.m.. All 16 of the nominated short films will be screened on both nights.

"The extra night will give the filmmakers a chance to be seen twice by the audience," said festival co-director Jordan Poppenk, a second-year psychology student. Also, this marks the first year that Fanshawe College students are invited to submit movies as well.

"The idea is to create a student film community that encompasses all of London," Poppenk said.

As the festival grows in stature, however, the theme seems to be "mo' money, mo' problems." Last year, filmmaker David Mewa, director of the heavily promoted Supremo Logic, blasted both the judging and the planning of the festival in regards to promotion and seating. This year, there was a disagreement between the festival directors, Poppenk and Tannisha Lambert, and the festival selection committee over the validity of the completion date for films. The end result was that the directors vetoed two films that the committee had already approved.

"It's hard to avoid the politics," Poppenk admitted. "There are egos and a lot of money involved, so I can see why people can get upset."

The seven-person judging panel, comprised of Western and Fanshawe professors, grad students and members of the London arts community, will announce the film festival winner after Saturday night's screening. The winning entry receives a prize of $1,000, which, according to director Aimée Mitchell, would be a nice bonus.

"It's my last year here at UWO and I think it'd be a nice way to wrap things up," said Mitchell, whose film 6 is her second consecutive piece to qualify for the festival. Last year, her film Static Quo placed third.

"Plus, I'm literally a starving artist and would like a little help getting the next project off the ground!" she added.

In addition to the top prize, the judges will also award five $350 prizes that will be distributed for excellence in various categories.

"It could be for Best Editing, Best Narrative Film, acting... it's all up to the judges," Poppenk said.

The audience will also get to play a part in the judging, as a $150 "Viewer's Choice" award will be awarded after tonight's screening.

Despite the $3,000 available in prizes, the spirit of the festival is still all about the work, not the money. While Mitchell noted, "You always hope to place," she also added, "It's always a great feeling when your work is recognized and supported by your peers. It gives me an indication that my work is going in the right direction."

Allen Chen, co-director of ...In the Dark, is very happy to be making his festival debut.

"I'm pretty excited about it just because I never thought I'd be in this position. This is my first film festival of any kind, and it's nice to see my film in a real theatre, and not just on my TV," Chen said. "I've seen the other filmmakers on the list, and they have a wealth of talent. I'm just hoping for the best."

Tickets for the UWO Film Festival are available at Western at InfoSource in the University Community Centre, in Rm. 32 of University College, at Fanshawe College at the BizBooth and at Rainbow Cinemas. Tickets cost $7 in advance, $8 at the door and $12 for tickets to both nights.


Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department