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By Russ Cooper
Concordia’s prolific capacity to produce amazing films has yet again been proven.
This year, two Concordia films made at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema have been honoured at the EnRoute Student Film Fest. Jacquelyn Mills' film For Wendy was awarded best student film. As well, the award for achievement in animation went to Eva Cvijanovic for her film Play.
Mills will take home a brand new car valued at $25 000 and both winners will be flown to the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
In a discussion before winners were announced, Mills suggested that her nomination was affirmation for her hard work and unique vision. "You never really expect something like this,” says Mills. "I felt it was the first film I've made that was indicative of the kind of film I want to make in the future.”
After approaching the first two years of her studies at Mel Hoppenheim to learn the technical side to film making, For Wendy was the perfect opportunity to apply her knowledge and push beyond the classroom walls and into the realm of the film business. “I wanted to make something that would help me transition from school,” she says.
For her, the support of her professors, in particular cinema professor and department chair Peter Rist, has been invaluable.
"Peter is one of the most influential and helpful profs at school,” Mills says. “All my teachers are filmmakers as well, […] I think that's the best thing a film school can do for filmmakers."
Rist and Mills also ventured to Africa in February 2007 to attend the Pan-African film fest. Not only impressed by Mills, Rist beams when he talks about the trip.
"All the students who went on that trip, who took that chance, were a special kind of person,” he says. “They showed a certain kind of pizzazz.”
Although not surprised by the fact that movies of this calibre were nominated for the EnRoute prizes, Rist was surprised when he learned movies of this experimental nature made the cut for a commercial outlet such as Air Canada.
The films have been showing on Air Canada flights to roughly 3 million passengers monthly. (You can also watch them by visiting www.enroutefilm.com)
"My first reaction was surprise, because when I’ve watched films on flights, they usually go for amusing or fun films,” he says, “but our films didn't have that rationale – we're more on the artistic creative side rather than the entertainment side. But that’s the kind of film we encourage, so it’s great to see it out there.”
Igor Glavonich, the film fest’s project manager, believes in exposing the non-traditional side of Canadian film. "Any chances we get to promote experimental filmmakers like this, we're all for it," he says. “We're trying to expose the everyday passenger to new art forms and techniques of various aspects of filmmaking, rather just feel good movies. There's a concentrated effort to present movies that push the boundaries.”
The winners were chosen by a star jury whose members include actors Dan Akroyd, Andrea Martin and Colm Feore, as well as Sharkwater director and star Rob Stewart, among others.