“And now we’d like to call the winners forward . . .”
It was the end of the Master’s College Film Festival. A group of students mobbed the front of the theatre for a photo-op with the judges and the Sponsor of the event, Steve Booker of Milestone Asset Management.
Oh no! I thought to myself. I had been enjoying the films so much that an opportunity for a killer blog post was about to slip through my fingers!
I had to seize the moment!
I stood up from my back row seat and charged down the side aisle, the downward slope fused with caffeine-ridden enthusiasm created an energy, a momentum, that seemed unstoppable. There was a guy at the bottom of the aisle in a fine suit snapping photos on some snazzy SLR camera—I had to get a shot! But in my enthusiasm and that rolling momentum, something happened that I could not believe:
Bump! . . .
You guessed it: I collided with the guy and his camera—right in the middle of his shot!
The Globe Cinema
The Master’s College Film Festival was held on March 1st, 2018 at the gritty downtown Globe Cinema on 8th Avenue. It was the third year of the festival and the first time at the Globe. It was a soulful venue for the festival that brought memories of one of my favourite places to watch movies on Bloor Street in Toronto—that dive feel, the vintage carpets and decor, the ornate columns and chairs, the small quaintness of it all that made you feel a part of a community. And that was for me the greatest part of it—that feeling of belonging to a community, a community that values kids, the making and exhibiting of art, and, of course, butter-soaked high-sodium popcorn.
The Parent Committee at Master’s (called IPOD) had planned the event as a fundraiser to support Music, Drama, and Robotics. Popcorn and drinks could be purchased, and there was a wine raffle, the winner of which would take home 30 bottles of wine. (Talkabout a post-awards party!) Milestone Asset Management sponsored the event, hence 100% of the money raised went directly to Master’s. It was amazing to see parent volunteers out there on a frigid March night at a downtown theatre supporting Master’s in such a caring way.
“So sorry,” I said to the guy while frantically snapping photos—I felt embarrassed, I mean who does that? “I must have tripped over something . . . ” I apologized to no seeming end.
“No worries,” he replied with a look of bewilderment on his face about what had just blown in front of his shot. I felt like some kind of cheap paparazzo on the beat for the Hollywood Reporter.
We both continued shooting, now joined by a crowd of proud dads taking photos of their children who had worked so hard and achieved so much. And then it dawned on me . . . I looked back over at the guy:
“What are you doing with those photos?” I asked.
“I beg your pardon? . . . “
A Bevy Of Fantastic Films
There was a brilliant bevy of nineteen films by students from grades 7-9. The genres ranged from documentary and drama to action/thriller and comedy. One of my favourites, Zoe’s Purpose, was about a little white dog named Zoe that brought together two girls who at the end became friends. I thought it was beautiful how a little dog could bring people together. Another one of my favourites was a quirky little film called Dear Diary that was a cross between a Wes Anderson film and Napoleon Dynamite. Some films were a riot, like the scene from Lost Memories in which a boy with amnesia exasperates one of his friends to such hysteria that she whacks him in the head with a frying pan only to restore his memory. At the end of the films, we were guided to the Mentimeter website where we could all vote for our favourite film. Who would be the winner? What fun!
Master’s Meets Milestone
Back to the guy, the fine suit, and the heavy camera. So I asked him what he was doing with the photos. His look of suspicion urged me to explain myself further—I mean it was a bombastic question, no? Maybe I was a paparazzo . . .
“I’m with Master’s,” I explained,“and I’m writing a blog post on this event. I’m wondering if you could send me your photos since it’s more than plausible that yours will be much better than mine.”(I was shooting on my iPhone 6s Plus—a good camera, but his looked much cooler.)
“Oh—” he replied, his face relaxing somewhat. “I’m writing a blog as well. I’m with Milestone Asset Management—the company that’s sponsoring the event.”
“Jeff Graham,” I offered my hand.
“Shawn Boos,” he replied shaking mine.
In addition to the photos, we agreed it would be cool for the two of us to link to each other’s blog posts. (You can read Milestone’s blog entry of the event here.) Sometimes great collaboration can be found at the razor’s edge of order and chaos, I thought to myself.
People’s Choice Awards: Voting With Mentimeter
In addition to the films, one of the best parts of the whole evening was voting for them. Christy Howard, the MC of the evening, directed us all to Mentimeter, an online voting platform, where we were able to vote on those films we thought were best. The results emerged on a huge bar graph put up on the large screen as the crowd cast its votes for the best film. The bar graph grew as more information was being added.
There were two main contenders for the People’s Choice Awards:
- Shadow Twins is a post-neo-noir film about an obsessive triangle of friendship between an unsuspecting girl and a set of twins, one of whom has disturbing obsessive tendencies and a penchant for duct tape and dank garages. The actors are Bryn Kane, Riley Kane, and Adria Puscasu.
- Sugar High is a crime thriller about a gang of thugs hustling thousands of kilos of sugar cereal, and the cops that chase them—the scene of two guys sharing a push-scooter while running from the cops is a riot. The actors for this film are Arleen Abedini, Eric Kimbley, Damian Kim, Aidan Cappon, Lucas Wiebe, and Ivan Munoz.
Most of my votes went to Shadow Twins, but in the end it was Sugar High that won the Viewer’s Choice Award, with the former coming in second. Both were great films, which explained the slim margin between first and second place.
Critics’ Choice Award
There was a panel that judged the films for the Critic’s Choice Awards: Anne Hawthorne, Andrea Brayer, and Paige Boudreau. Steve Dierkens, who runs a music studio here in town, was a judge as well.
Sugar High took home both the Viewer’s Choice and Critic’s Choice Awards. I couldn’t blame Sugar High for taking both top prizes: the film had a great concept, a sticky title, and the acting was hilarious. The awards generated a lot of excitement and raised the bar for production and performance. As you look at the photos attached to this post, you can see the pride and excitement in the eyes of the students, judges, and sponsors—what a night!
After the lights went up, and the crowd of students and parents filed out of the theatre, I stopped over to introduce myself to Steve Booker and congratulate him on a great venue. As we talked, I could see the passion he had for Master’s, its students, and great film projects. He told me he hoped the festival would continue in the future, and that we could have it again at the Globe Cinema.
I walked out of the Globe onto the wind chilled street. As I passed the steamed up windows of a jazz club, my ears catching a few chords of music that belong to city nights, I thought about the vintage theatre, the audacious student films, and the sense of belonging that comes with great community events.
Well done, I said to myself, shaking my head in satisfaction as the saxophone melody drifted up through street light haze, very well done . . .
For their support of the Master’s film festival, Steve and Shawn were nominated as finalists for a giving back/community service award by a national industry association. Unfortunately they did not take home the prize–at least not this time. Steve and Shawn: we look forward to working with you this year, and helping you take another run at it.
Plans are underway for Film Fest 2019 . . .
And this time I’ll be ready, camera in hand and brain poised, to catch those elusive experiences that escape any writer whose head is in the clouds. Maybe then Shawn Boos will be able to take photos without any infringement by yours truly.
We’ll see . . .