by Chris Paré
Three decades of independent student cinema were marked last week when
Concordia Universitys film production students held the 30th annual
Year-End Screenings (YES). The event, held from May 7 to 10, showcased
70 films over four nights to packed auditoriums.
While only six first-year films get selected, all students from second
year on, including masters students. are eligible to submit.
The screenings seemed like a full-blown festival at times. There were
no maverick filmmakers accepting statuettes, however, nor stealthy seat-fillers
to take your place should the need to go to the bathroom arise. It was
a modest affair, but one that spoke volumes with its substance.
Melanie Garcia has finished her second year in film production. She is
one of six people in her class who was selected to direct a production
this past year based on the script she submitted.
Her film, Recollection, is the story of Joe, a nondescript guy
who wakes up on a friends floor and proceeds to try and piece together
the events of the previous evening. She says the shoot was unexpectedly
smooth, something she was not expecting but does not hesitate in crediting
to her program.
Some people need film school and some people dont, she
said. Im not someone who could take their tuition money and
use it for a short film instead. Some people who could do that because
theyre extraordinarily gifted, but for me, its to meet people,
work with profs, get their advice, and to produce work that is supported
by the university. I need that right now.
YES Organizer and Cinema Students Association member Ragnar Keil worked
on five films this past year, but did not get to direct his own. Keil,
who is going into his third year, was too busy to be disappointed. In
fact, he was buoyed by the success of this years screening.
I was surprised that there was such a good response, he remarked
Saturday afternoon while still struggling to finish that nights
program. We werent counting on so many people showing up for
the first night.
The proof is in the numbers, or in this case, ballots. Unlike previous
editions, this years organizers gave audiences (already primed on
reality-show democracy) the opportunity to vote for the favourites, with
the top five from each night going on to the final screening on Saturday
We think it enriches the program; people are very interested in
that judging by how they responded. The [ballot] boxes were very full.
Theyre happy to have their say, Keil said.
Democracy is a heavy burden when the field of competition is this good.
Documentaries weigh in next to animated shorts and experimental montages,
each more ambitious than the next. Some films werent even out of
the gate before they were stepping up to the podium, like Mathieu Grondin,
who already collected a Kodak prize in photography for Capitalism &
Schizophrénie, his hyper-surreal ode to Last Year at Marienbad.
Grondin is not alone. Nurjahan Akhlaq and Emily Frasier are among many
film production students garnering honours outside the school for the
strength and vision of their work. If this years offerings are any
indication of what future film students can conceive, events like this
should continue in perpetuity.