40 Years of Film at Concordia

Mel Hoppenheim Students Present Their Films to the World

Concordia filmmakers are screening their short film productions during the 40th annual Concordia Film Festival, which kicks off today.

The festival is the longest-running university film fest in Canada and presents works by Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema students in film production and film animation.

According to festival director Simran Dewan, the 40th edition aims to pay homage to students and ex-students alike.

This year the festival honours André Turpin, Concordia alumni and acclaimed cinematographer of the Oscar-nominated film _Incendies_.

Cinema students present their fictional, documentary and experimental films with their peers as part of 90-minute-long screening segments, and a jury of professionals chooses 15 films to screen at the Best of the Fest, where awards are given. The Best of the Fest screens Saturday May 4 at 8:00 p.m.

This year marks the end of analog productions in film classes at Concordia. Now that Montreal film labs and companies are closing down, students will be working exclusively with digital next year.

“The big attraction for Concordia was the fact that even ‘till today we were shooting everything in film—so 16/35mm,” Dewan said.

This year’s festival is meant to mark the shift to digital production, the third-year cinema student added.

An Open Bar segment is new this year. Filmmakers from around Quebec were invited to present their work alongside Concordia students. The festival received submissions from CEGEP students as well as out-of-school filmmakers.

“It was sort of like a test run to see the reception of what would happen if we opened up a screening to many different universities,” Dewan said.

“We were curious to see what would happen if you put a Concordia film against a [Université de Montréal] film.”

First-year Filmmaking I students aren’t excluded from the festival, and last year a few of their films were even selected as part of Best of the Fest.

Teachers set up a first year screening, and organizers of the Concordia Film Festival send their own jury to select 15 films to be screened alongside works by students in more advanced film classes.

“In the end it’s not about the medium or what year you’re in,” he said. “It’s really just about how good your film is.”

The first-year filmmakers traditionally shoot their short movies with a Bolex camera, although next year they will make the move to digital cameras.

“The jury we select comes in like a professional jury,” Dewan said. “They don’t really care whether it was shot 35mm or Bolex.”

Concordia Film Festival / May 2 to 4 / Maxwell-Cummings Auditorium (Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1379A Sherbrooke St. W.) / $7.75 per film

For more info, visit the Concordia Film Festival website