Student Television at McGill (TVM)’s annual Fokus Film Festival has given students a unique opportunity to present their cinematographic skills to a wider audience since its inception in 2006. This year’s incarnation, which begins on March 21, will continue the artistic festival’s mission of allowing McGill students to explore the film arts in a friendly and stimulating environment. Around 250 film patrons, and 50 participants, will gather to appreciate and enjoy student film talent at McGill.
The event, which is the only student film festival associated with McGill’s student population, offers an invaluable artistic opportunity for filmmakers and film lovers alike to participate in the sort of creative process not usually found within McGill’s academic framework. The event’s organizer for this year, and film festival veteran, Chantal Africa, explained that since “McGill seems to lack courses that explore media production,” the festival will provide students with “an artistic and creative outlet where they can express and share their work” that they might not find otherwise.
The festival features several events dedicated to the creation and screening of student film. 4 fiction, 5 experimental, and 3 documentary films were chosen out of 40 submissions to be presented at a screening Friday at 6 p.m. at Cinéma du Parc (3575 Parc). After the films are screened, prizes will be awarded for the best pieces in each genre category, as well as the People’s Choice Award and the Best of the Fest. Judges include film editors Arthur Tarnowski and Richard Comeau, Jesse Hunter, who teaches Cinema and Communications at Dawson College, and radio and film producer Mira Burt-Wintonick. Many students took the festival as an opportunity to create something new by entering the 72-hour filmmaking competition, seven entries of which will also be screened. Participants were given three days to conceive, film, and edit a completely original short film, which had to include a ‘secret element’ revealed to participants at the beginning of the allotted time.
Given the lack of opportunities for media production in the classroom at McGill, TVM offers a rare chance for students to learn hands-on the ins and outs of filmmaking. The Fokus Film Festival itself is a great illustration of TVM’s work, providing student filmmakers with a broader audience for their projects while entertaining moviegoers with a refreshing array of truly independent film.
Tickets to the Fokus Film Festival are available for $6 in advance or $7 at the door, and include admission to both the screenings and the after party for both the filmmakers and the patrons, which is hosted by TRH-Bar (3699 St. Laurent) after the screenings. The celebrations will start at 9 p.m., with four live bands gracing the stage: Archery Guild, Look Vibrant, Trade Secrets, and Oh No! Yoko. Advance tickets can be obtained at the TVM office in Shatner B-28, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.