March 17, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 87  

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Student filmmakers recognized

By Mark Bruder
Gazette Staff

Last weekend marked the 10th anniversary of the UWO Film Festival, an annual eventaimed at establishing connections between local filmmakers and elevating awareness of talented undergraduates.

This year, the relatively new tradition of including submissions from filmmakers at Fanshawe College continued. “It’s great that we are reaching out to Fanshawe. We’re taking it to the next level,” said Nick Muzzin, co-chair of the Western Undergraduate Film Society.

The decision helped strengthen the relationship between Western and Fanshawe students. For example, the film Starfish was created by Western students Derek Ross and Jonathan Edwards in collaboration with Fanshawe student Cameron Stoltz.

“We wanted to keep the doors open,” Ross said, adding there was joint use of Fanshawe and Western equipment and resources.

Since the change of venue from the McKellar Room to Rainbow Cinemas in 2002, the Festival has continued to pick up speed. The Friday night screening was sold out, and two additional screenings were slotted to meet increased audience attendance.

Thirteen films were featured this year, chosen from 45 submissions. Highlights included: The Ten Condiments, directed by Matt Huether and Michael Windover, is a modern-day representation of the Ten Commandments through the medium of food; Just Kids: Homeless Youth in Canada directed by Andrew Dewaard is a heart-wrenching story documenting five homeless youth in downtown London; Seeking Silence directed by Ryan Dueckman, is an entertaining, silent film alluding to every kind of sex imaginable, without including a single frame of sexual activity.

Grimace, directed by Dave Vaillancourt, is a hilarious silent film making a bold statement concerning the filmmaker’s disposition for the purple awning. Young Driver, directed by Evan Aagaard is a dramatic film about the director’s re-occurring dream of a young boy who finds himself trapped in a car, speeding down the highway; Man on a Hydrological Dam, directed by Nick Haffie-Emslie is a stunning 3D-animated comedy-tragedy on how things can go from bad to worse; and Still Remains, directed by Brent O’Hagan is an exploration through the mind of a troubled young man in search of truth and the world in which he has created.

Various cash awards were presented Saturday night. Haffie-Emslie’s Man on a Hydrological Dam was awarded the $1,000 Grand Prize and the $150 People’s Choice Award. Seeking Silence won Best Technical Achievement, Young Driver took Best Thematic Complexity and Still Remains was awarded Best Originality. Each category prize was worth $350. Special Jury Mention went to Just Kids for being more than “just a movie.”

The prizes were not overly important to the filmmakers. “It’s all about getting your work seen,” explained James Hyde, the creative mind behind the clay-mation epic Interstellar Terrorism and The American Condition. “It’s just great to come out and see what other people are doing.”

“[The Festival] should encourage people to create their own movies, especially those who are not in film,” Huether said.

“With advances in technology these days, almost anyone can make a film,” Muzzin added.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the Festival and the parties that followed the screenings. “It was absolutely incredible — better than last year,” Haffie-Emslie said. The after-party, which took place Saturday night, featured a live band and a visual art exhibit.

“It’s a lot of work all the way from day one,” said Jordan Poppenk, one of this year’s Festival directors. Apparently, the work paid off. For those who missed this year’s Festival, keep an open eye, because next year promises to blow us all away.

The Festival’s newly appointed committee plans to begin work for next year immediately.



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