Volume 96, Issue 95
Friday, March 28, 2003

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Films4Food rides The Wave of student film festivals

By Megan O'Toole
Gazette Staff

Ready for some entertainment that doesn't involve Gollum, Nicole Kidman's fake nose or musical adventures in the Windy City?

If so, you're in luck: on Monday, Mar. 31, the Films4Food Festival is providing a platform for student filmmakers. Kicking off at 9 p.m., the festival will take place at The Wave. You must be of age, and admission is $2.

According to festival organizer and first-year media, information and technoculture student Ari Shomair, all proceeds from the festival will be going to the London Food Bank.

"I'm hoping to see at least 100 people show up," Shomair said, noting this attendance will raise a couple hundred dollars for the Food Bank.

Shomair said the event was designed with a twofold purpose in mind: to provide exposure for London's student filmmakers from both Fanshawe College and Western, while at the same time raising money for a good cause.

"Everyone needs to eat, and most people feel that the London Food Bank is positive for the community," Shomair stated.

Shomair said he was inspired to embark on the Films4Food project after his own film was rejected from the UWO Film Festival.

"They didn't accept my film because it wasn't an art film," Shomair claimed, describing art films as "artistic films which don't tell stories, but rather explain feelings – there's no real narrative in an art film."

In Films4Food, Shomair is zeroing in on mini-narratives rather than art films.

"I want to stay away from anything that's 'avant-garde,'" Shomair remarked. "I think that the Western Film Festival was too focused on artsy films."

The Salon de Refusť, or the festival for films that did not make the cut for the Western festival, was another outlet for Western filmmakers to gain exposure for their work. Yet for Shomair, it was not enough.

"I didn't hear about the Salon de Refusť in time to submit my film," Shomair said. Instead, he chose to organize his own festival.

"I'm not interested in making money," Shomair attested. "The intention of the festival is to get more student films seen, have fun and make money for a good cause."

Jeff Armour, site manager at The Wave, said he chose to support the festival because "it's the students' bar – I may run it, but they own it.

"If there is a chance to do some programming that adds to the university experience, I think we have a responsibility to make that event happen."

According to Shomair, gathering the films has proven to be a difficult task. At press time, he had been contacted by seven filmmakers, but had yet to receive a single film.

"There has been a great response from the filmmaking community, but it's been hard to track down the films," Shomair said. "We're all students and everyone is busy."

Steve Todd, second-year television broadcasting student at Fanshawe College, is one of the seven students who plans to showcase his work at Films4Food. According to Todd, his film – entitled Inside the Mind – is a short suspense film, with a running time of approximately three minutes.

"It is nice to be able to forget about the educational stereotypes and get to the point: filmmaking," Todd said, noting the festival is an excellent way for student filmmakers to gain exposure.

"I have felt very welcomed into the Western 'film environment' this year," Todd added.

Regardless of the current scarcity of submissions, Shomair is confident that the show will go on as planned.

"The festival will happen no matter what," Shomair stated. "If I don't get enough films [from students], I'll definitely still show my own film, as well as other short films that are not necessarily made by students."

For more details on the Films4Food Festival, check out www.showorx.com/films4food.

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