By Justin Wong
Now in its 7th year, the Vaughan International Film Festival provides a platform for both local and international filmmakers. Hosted at the Cineplex Colossus Theatre in Vaughan, 18 student films from 11 different high schools across the Greater Toronto Area were chosen for the Student Initiatives Film Competition.
It was an evening of inspiration and dreams. As I entered the theatre, I could see excitement on the faces of young filmmakers, who would soon see their productions showcased on the big screen. The evening had quite the turnout, with lines waiting to enter the auditorium stretching across the theatre and near maximum capacity inside the theatre. The evening began with a brief introduction of the nights programming before jumping right in to an 18-film marathon of short films.
Genres and themes were diverse, much to the delight of the audience.
Escape was a classic thriller about a student who gets kidnapped and trapped at school. The Umbrella, on the other hand, was an animated short film that will tug on your heartstrings, as it tells the story of a mother and daughter walking through the rain while simultaneously going through the stages of life. The dramas Bliss and FOMO both won runner up for the evening and were very well-produced films that explore themes of PTSD and social media addiction respectively.
The student short film that won the evening was My Strange Addiction, from Joshua Kilimnik and Omar Sidani of Alexander Mackenzie High School in Richmond Hill. The film is a parody of the popular TLC program of the same name, and shows the life of a young student who has become addicted to school.
“We were looking at something that would be humorous to have an addiction to, so we decided to go with school, flipping the tables where the person dedicated to school was an outlier and estranged from his slacking classmates,” says Kilimnik, who cites British director Edgar Wright as an inspiring figure in his filmmaking.
Kilimnik says that one of the greatest challenges that they faced as student filmmakers was, “using school time wisely and trying to find any time possible to work on the film.” Kilimnik says that those challenges were overcome by, “planning in advance, figuring out what you have to hit in order to hit your deadline, and mostly logistics.”
To young aspiring filmmakers, Sidani offers the following advice: “Keep striving and never stop…if you’re having a lot of fun doing it and it is something that you enjoy doing, I encourage people to pursue that.” Kilimnik also adds an important piece of advice for young student filmmakers like himself: “As long as you have an idea for what you want the film to be and what you want it to look like, technical elements don’t factor much into it. Use whatever resources you have to substitute in for real filmmaking equipment.”
The films may not be as polished or have the higher production value of bigger budget short films, but the work created by these students are indicative of their potential and great talent. Most of the shorts shown this evening were engaging, thought provoking, and hit the right notes for their genres. For example, the night’s two comedy shorts, From What I Heard and My Strange Addiction had good comedic timing and brought the theatre to a roar of laughter. The student block of the Vaughan International Film Festival is definitely the place to be to see the next generation of talented filmmakers.
*Editor’s Note: VIBE105 is the official media partner of Vaughan International Film Festival 2019