Volume 96, Issue 83
Friday, March 7, 2003

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Film festival sparks controversy

2003 UWO Film Festival Nominees

ANM8-TD Commandolls
(Director: Mark Campbell)

Arthur Lipsett: Poet of Film
(Director: Amelia Does)

Beyond the Gage
(Directors: Brian Atkinson, Michael Thede)

Black Fire
(Director: Daniel Besharat)

Cadacus Rex
(Director: Nicholas Mussin)

Cosmo Needs More
(Director: Janessa MacIntosh)

Don't Sit In The Apple Juice Seat
(Director: Mike Froussios)

(Directors: Nick Haffie, Emslie & Ryan Marr)

(Director: Brent O'Hagan)

Gate 17
(Director: Anne Sinclair)

In Passing
(Director: Andres Villar)

...In The Dark
(Director: Allen Chen)

(Director: Tim Gordon)

(Director: Aimée Mitchell)

Towards the Solstice
(Director: Mary Fogarty)

(Director: Jennifer Kruzick)

By Mark Polishuk
Gazette Staff

If you thought the Oscars were controversial, they've got nothing on the UWO Film Festival.

This past Monday, the UWO Film Festival, an annual showcase of short films made by Western and Fanshawe College students, released the slate of films selected to be shown during the two-day event to be held Mar. 14-15. The list of nominees has raised some contention among members of the 20-person selection committee, comprised mostly of Western film students.

90 Percent, directed by Michael Froussios, and Credit Where Credit Is Due, directed by Matt Huether, were both ruled ineligible due to a Festival rule which states that all films for this year's competition had to have been completed after May 1, 2002.

Selection committee member Ben Filippini says they nominated the two films without any knowledge of the deadline regulations. However, once informed of the rule, the committee voted 19-1 in favour of nominating the two films on the grounds that "the date was too arbitrary," according to Filippini.

"The spirit of the rule is fine, since you don't want people submitting the same stuff every year, but a cut-off date of May 1 basically means that people who made films in second-semester film classes last year can't submit their work for the Festival."

Committee member Stephanie Chris said the committee "left the selection meeting thinking the films were in," but Festival co-directors Tannisha Lambert and Jordan Poppenk later decided to exclude 90 and Credit.

"Including those two films would open the door for any number of complaints from students who made films before May 1," Lambert argued.

"[Froussios and Huether] signed their entry form, which stated that they knew the rules of the Festival before they went in. The deadline rule was right there, in black and white," Poppenk added.

There has also been some conflict over the inclusion of a "Director's Pick" made by Lambert and Poppenk.

"There is one film in the Festival that the committee didn't nominate," Filippini says.

Twelve films were originally nominated by the committee, with three backup films also named in case the Festival directors happened to rule against including the Froussios and Huether movies. As it happened, all three backups plus the Director's Pick were added, bringing the total number of movies in the Festival to 16.

Lambert says the additions were a matter of scheduling. "When we added up the total time of the first 12 films, there was still over an hour left in our allotted time at the theatre. Since there was never a strict number of nominees that had to be included, we decided to use that time to show as many films as possible."

Luckily for Froussios, another of his films, Don't Sit In The Apple Juice Seat, was one of the backup films that made the Festival set list. According to Filippini, Apple Juice "would've made the original cut anyway," had it not been for a Festival rule that prohibits one director from having more than one movie nominated.

Huether, however, has no solo project to his name, though he was heavily involved in the production of another Festival entry, ...In The Dark, directed by Allen Chen.

In retrospect, Poppenk admits that the May 1 deadline date was a "mistake" that is unfortunately too late to correct.

"Future events should definitely use another cut-off date, maybe as early as the day after the last year's Festival," Poppenk said.

The 2003 UWO Film Festival takes place on Mar. 14-15 at Rainbow Cinemas.


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