By: Alison Wick, Arts Editor
I really did not know what to expect from the graduating showcase of the SFU School of Contemporary Arts’ Film program for 2019. In the weeks leading up to the screening, what I had mostly heard about from friends in the cohort was everything that had gone wrong: footage becoming unusable, plans going awry, countless hours in front of computer screens, and a general imbalance between work needing to be done and time available to do it. I feared for my friends that they might not complete their projects in time or that more wrenches would be thrown into their plans, stopping them from making the art they envisioned.
Sitting down in the theatre and seeing all 12 films, my fears melted away as I forgot everything they told me. Each film was beautifully unique and exquisitely rendered in each filmmaker’s distinctive style. No film showed any cracks, reflecting the exhaustive effort that went into them — they were all effortlessly professional and artistic pieces of cinema.
The evening was split into two halves featuring six films, including two short Q&As with each group of six filmmakers. Although the running time of the evening was over two hours, the fantastic films and amusing co-hosts kept us engaged and excited. The films ranged from narrative explorations of character to mixed media animations to documentaries — with too much nuance and individuality to properly convey in this short piece of writing.
In their talkbacks with the audience, the filmmakers discussed the collaborative process of filmmaking and how complex it is to translate sensory experiences to the screen. They also fielded questions about topics ranging from set decoration to bringing your hopes and dreams to life.
The cohort was clearly a tight-knit group of collaborators. You didn’t just see it through the credits; you could feel it in the theatre. A strong sense of community and excitement in the audience is what really separated this evening from a regular film screening.
After the films, a reception was held in the World Art Centre next to the theatre. Filmmakers, along with friends and family, celebrated their achievements and exhaled sighs of relief.
SFU Film 2019’s graduating filmmakers are: Emily Bayrock, Sophia Biedka, Sean Brennan, Hannah Davis, Hannah Dubois, Rosie Hsueh, Ethan Lammie, Grace Mathisen, Carr Sappier, Greg Sparling, Marianne Thodas, and Gordon Wong. These are 12 filmmakers to keep your eyes and ears out for in the coming years; follow them, support their work (special points if you do this financially), and watch as they each bring new perspectives, new images, and new ways of filmmaking to Vancouver and beyond.
A big congratulations to everyone in the class of SFU Film 2019 — your films were wonderful, you are wonderful, and I can’t wait to see what you do next.
Below is a full list and brief description of each film and director in the order of the showcase.
Sifu – Gordan Wong
Sifu is a touching film about the lifelong relationship between a father and son, who have a tense but loving bond, and their shared practice of martial arts.
As I Care For You – Rosie Hseuh
Hseuh’s charming hand-drawn animated film tells a sweet and simple story about a hidden caregiver who lifts peoples’ spirits — all without dialogue, emphasizing colourful images and a universal message.
The Indestructible Girl – Grace Mathisen
Endearing and humorous, this film follows a young girl as she plays with her favourite, and possibly imaginary, friend.
The Calling – Ethan Lammie
Marrying humour and horror, this thriller tells the story of a young man as he spirals into crisis darker than he imagined.
If You Must – Directed by Sophia Biedka
If You Must is an impeccably shot snapshot of life for Tahltan community members in Northern B.C, where mining companies and few job opportunities put pressure on the relationship between the community and their territory.
Normal People Don’t Feel This Way – Marianne Thodas
This mixed media experimental film tries to create images based on what you smell, touch, and taste of someone having a mental breakdown by layering filmed footage, animated images, and still photos.
Holly – Sean Brennan
A phony therapist, the spirit of a lost dog, and a quick-witted protagonist command your attention and laughter in this offbeat narrative film.
Bearly There – Greg Sparling
A kind of character study of a girl running away from the world, Sparling shows the humourous and dejected difficulties of escaping into the woods with a stuffed bear as your partner.
Virgo Rising – Emily Bayrock
Bayrock combines fiction and documentary to portray and bring attention to the realities of vulvodynia, and the difficult ways it affects every aspect of women’s lives.
Someone, Somewhere Is Silently Screaming – Hannah Davis
With a sarcastic and dry sense of humour, this film brings the mundane search for a lost dog to life with dance numbers, green screens, and underwhelming yet over the top characters.
What Spring Does To The Cherry Trees – Hannah Dubois
With keen attention to cinematography, What Spring Does To The Cherry Trees considers the internal tension and complexity of suddenly becoming the supportive partner.
MANAPE MANI – Carr Sappier
Manape Mani follows the delightfully funny and passionate Madeline Terbasket (Syilx) as she prepares for a comedy show, reflecting on her relationship to self and community through conversation with Sappier.