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By Wendy Smith
It’s not every day a school project scoops up a prestigious national award, but that’s exactly what happened to two student cinéastes who nabbed some glitzy hardware late last month.
The Canadian Student Film Festival is part of the Montreal World Film Festival, a star-studded global spectacle that showcases work by industry heavyweights.
At the awards gala, Rist was unprepared for the news that their short film, This Little Piggy was considered the best overall film by the jury panel. “I showed up wearing shorts and a t-shirt,” he admitted.
Their professor was less surprised. “Sarah and Seb were always very serious students and they pursued things in a very methodical way,” said Tim Schwab, who taught the Film III class for which they produced the piece. “It was interesting to watch them merge their skills.”
The result of that alchemy is a 14-minute short film about the first few awkward moments between an Anglophone student and the elderly Francophone woman who is renting him a room.
“I enjoy focusing on stories that are very local and drawn from personal experience,” Quinn said. “I could never have made this unless I saw parts of myself reflected in it.”
“I love the film because you don’t really have any idea where it’s going,” said Schwab. “It’s technically good, well-acted and quirky, and has the ability to pull the audience into it. It’s a comedy but it’s also very dark.”
Rist and Quinn had entered This Little Piggy in several festivals prior to the Canadian Student Film Festival. At the Young Cuts Festival, it was nominated for Best French Film and Best Director and won the People's Choice Award. At the Fantasia Film Festival, it was shortlisted in the Best French Film category. It’s also currently screening through Air Canada’s enRoute student film festival.
Quinn and Rist are quick to attribute much of the film’s success to their team of behind-the-scenes clutch players, many of whom are fellow Concordia students and alumni.
With the McLaren award under their belt, and $2,500 in technical services from the National Film Board that comes with the prize, Quinn and Rist have set their sights on the next big project. “I plan to stick with filmmaking until it stops being fun,” said Quinn.
Rist agrees. “It’s huge that we got that open door.”
Also at the festival, alumna Jacquelyn Mills picked up the Kodak Imaging Award for Best New Canadian Student Director for her film, For Wendy (see the Journal, May 8, 2008)