Filmmakers excel at Concordia

allison martens

From left: Simone Rapisarda, Myriam Magassouba and Eduardo Menz stick close to the tools of their trade.

Photo by andrew dobrowolskyj

Three young filmmakers recognized for their films at the 24th annual Rendez-vous du cinéma québecois developed their command of celluloid at Concordia’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema.

Eduardo Menz accepted the Prix de la creation artistique du Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec for best experimental work for Las Mujeres de Pinochet (Pinochet’s Women).

Myriam Magassouba, a current student, shared the directing credits and the Prix Pierre et Yolanda Perrault for best documentary for Sur le quai de la gare, while recent graduate Simone Rapisarda got a Special Mention in the category for best student work for Open Sea.

“The jury chose my film because they said it ‘seduced us.’ They liked a lot of the formal aspects, how I juxtaposed sound, images and subtitles to create it,” Menz said. He has also screened the film at festivals in Los Angeles, Toronto and Aix-en-Provence, France.

The 12-minute-long Mujeres tackles the issue of class in Chilean society. Menz alternates two feminine icons – one a beauty queen, the other a student activist – to examine the differing roles and expectations for women during the brutal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in the 1980s.

For Menz, the project is tinged with personal memories. His parents are Chilean, and came to Canada to avoid persecution for their political beliefs.

“As a kid, I would always watch videos about Chile. Now, 15 years later, I look at the same images and they trigger memories of my childhood, of what was going on in our ‘other home.’”

A few years ago, Simone Rapisarda was working in his native Italy as a photographer and in Spain as software developer on a program that filmmakers use to edit their masterpieces. Now, he uses the program to create his own.

“All my experimentation with computers and still photography was leading me to work with moving images. So was my fascination with inventing stories,” said Rapisarda, who is particularly fond of children’s stories.

He describes Open Sea as “magical surrealism,” about an old man who recounts the tale of an unnaturally severe flood in his high-rise building when he was a child. As the water rises, so do the number of uninvited guests who seek refuge in his family’s apartment.

“He remembers the events that led him to realize that he had to live his own life and leave his family when he was only 10 years old, regardless of how much he loved them.”

The Rendez-vous festival showcases the crème de la crème of the dynamic Québecois film industry, and took place Feb. 16 to 26 in Montreal, and Feb. 20 to 26 in Quebec City.

Of the 190 films that screened at this year’s event, 45 were the work of students, alumni or instructors at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema.

You can catch Eduardo Menz’s Las Mujeres de Pinochet as part of an exhibit titled The Only Way Out is In. It is showing now until April 15 at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery in the J.W. McConnell Library Building, 1400 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W. , alongside two other exhibits of works from the gallery's permanent collection.

You can see Open Sea on March 26, and meet the filmmaker, too. The second annual Alumni/Art Matters Film and Video Festival offers a selection of the best shorts by Concordia students and alumni in the J.A. DeSève Cinema, from 1 to 5 p.m.