Screen shot from U of R student Iryn Tushabe’s film “Discovery,” which screened at the Montreal World Film Festival at the end of August Photo courtesy of Tushabe
Students projects presented at Montreal World Film Festival
Three students of the U of R Media Production and Studies department received the chance to show their work to hundreds of people from around the world.
Iryn Tushabe, Matt Yim and Allan Roeher discovered in July that their fourth-year films were going to screen at the Montreal World Film Festival from August 23 to September 3.
Tushabe’s film “Discovery” screened on August 26 while Yim and Roeher’s film, “April Doesn’t Hurt Here” screened four times, from August 30 to September 3.
Though she was unable to attend the festival, Tushabe was thrilled to have her work screen in Montreal.
“It is quite surreal, actually, because when you make a student project the best you can hope for is that the whole class is in attendance on the day of your screening and then maybe family and friends get to see it too,” Tushabe said. “So to have my film premiere at the Montreal World Festival was very exhilarating both for me and everyone that was involved in making it.”
Yim and Roeher were able to attend the festival in person. They had the opportunity of receiving feedback about their film from complete strangers.
“It’s kind of cool sitting in a theatre in Montreal and having random people coming from around the world … comment on your film,” Roeher said. “[Friday] night, after the film … we were walking back to the hotel, someone who was in the audience stopped us and congratulated us on the film, it was really good. That was neat being stopped on the street.”
“April Doesn’t Hurt Here” was in the Focus on World Cinema category at the festival. The short film is “a story about a young couple who are in love and they think they might be pregnant,” Yim said.
“The film is about the emotions you go through when waiting to find out if you could be pregnant as it’s a life changing moment,” he added.
Roeher produced the film and Yim wrote, directed and acted.
Yim and Roeher’s film was also selected as one of 10 Canadian Student films which screened at the Toronto International Film Festival’s ninth annual student showcase. A DVD compilation of the films is set to be released later this year.
Tushabe’s film, “Discovery”, was in the Student Film Component category at the festival. The real time short film follows a gay couple addressing the issue of trust in their relationship.
According to Tushabe, “lingering perfume on one [of the women] sparks a tearful confrontation which ultimately leads to an even stronger bond between the couple.”
Tushabe mentioned that she is from Uganda, a country where homosexuality is illegal.
“I'm fortunate to live in a country where I can even make a film like this,” she said. “I wouldn't even be allowed to screen my film in Uganda without facing legal action.”
“It’s kind of cool sitting in a theatre in Montreal and having random people coming from around the world … comment on your film." – Allan Roeher
Both films were originally created for the students’ final projects. The films debuted at a public screening on April 27 and 28.
Media Production and Studies department head Mark Wihak said students in the program are encouraged to submit their work in different festivals to reach audiences outside of Saskatchewan.
“As a department, we’re really proud of the work that they’ve done and we’re really happy that they’re showing the initiative to get their work out,” Wihak said.
“It’s a lot of work to make a film and it’s almost as much work to then get the film out to audiences. And it’s great to see Matt and Allan and Iryn taking that step of getting their work to audiences.”
Tushabe, Roeher and Yim also took an extra step in asking for help from professionals in the local film industry.
Both actors in “Discovery” are professional local actors. Tushabe also received advice from a local filmmaker named Robin Schlaht who is a graduate of the film and video production program.
Yim and Roeher recruited the help of Layton Burton, a local professional director of photography.
Around the time “April Doesn’t Hurt Here” was being shot, the Saskatchewan Employment Film Tax Credit was cut.
Though the students’ films were created entirely through volunteer work, the professionals that were working for them were dealing with their own concerns about the future of the local film industry.
“It was really a bittersweet moment because the students had reached out to these professionals and it was really sad – these professionals were in this crisis,” Wihak said.
Although the tax credit cut did not affect the students’ projects, it could affect their future in the Saskatchewan film industry.
“If nothing changes, students will have to leave Saskatchewan to pursue a career in film,” Wihak said. “I’m a graduate of the program myself and when I graduated in 1980 there wasn’t really a film industry. The film industry kind of grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s and it created employment opportunities so people could actually stay in the province and build their careers. And we may be going back to what we were facing in the 1980s.”
Tushabe’s own plans for the future have been somewhat affected by the credit cut.
“Well, due to the recent credit cuts to the film industry in Saskatchewan, it is hard for anyone in the industry to find jobs here,” she said.
“Some really great filmmakers have moved but I can't move just yet because I have two small children. So I'm returning to school this fall to pursue … journalism and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm hoping that I will be able to combine my passion for journalism and my love of making movies together and that something good will come of the combination.”
Tushabe is also hoping to make a documentary in the near future.
As for the other students, Roeher plans to further his education in England. Yim also plans to start a new project in the future.
“The idea is to make something else but I don’t have anything ready to go yet,” he said. “With how well we’ve done with this film, this summer’s been kind of jumping from project to project and not really having time to sit down and start something new yet.”