An overview of the fifteen U of R student-produced films featured this year
Film students at the University of Regina have been organizing a film festival since 1988. In 2012, the festival was re-branded as the Living Skies Student Film Festival. This weekend the festival, one of the longest running film festivals in Canada, went hybrid.
Screenings took place in the Schumiatcher Open Stage (“Shu-Box”) Theatre Thursday March 3 to Saturday March 5. A workshop from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m preceded the screenings at 8 p.m. Thursday’s workshop was on the creative process, hosted by Canadian filmmaker and media artist Su Rynard. On Friday, the Regina Filmpool Collective hosted a workshop called Waves at the Filmpool. Saturday saw the main event, a Q & A session award-winning Cree/Métis writer and director Danis Goulet, who is originally from La Ronge, Saskatchewan. Danis Goulet’s films have been screened at major festivals such as Berlin, Sundance, and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and a member of the board for TIFF.
The festival received over 1100 film submissions from 90 countries, making a diverse lineup spanning five categories – narrative fiction, animation, documentary, experimental and avant-garde, and graduate – on offer. Ultimately, over 60 student films were selected from these 1100 international entries. 15 of the films showcased were by U of R students. I’ve watched each of these films in order to give a quick run-down on some of the student work being done here at the university, and I was really impressed by the quality of some of these pieces.
Here are the films presented by U of R students at the 2022 Living Skies Film Festival:
CHAOS OF THE SOUL – Maggie Robertson
An exploration of “surrealist cinema in the 1920s.” This film packed a lot of creepy into a pretty small package (it’s only a minute long). Not for the clown-phobic!
Cybersickness – Calandra Iverson
A video diary depicting pandemic life. The first bit of this film is very reminiscent of early pandemic days: doom scrolling, Zoom fatiguing, out-of-body, life lived through a screen. The second movement takes the viewer out into the world again, into a nature that is eerily silent – until the very end.
FISHEYE DREAMS – Eric Cox
A “love letter” to skateboarding, experienced through a fisheye lens. I broke my arm trying to skateboard when I was a kid, so I definitely wasn’t the target audience for this film. Cox definitely has better endurance for the falls than I do.
Honey I’m Home – Rose Cicely Mansbridge-Goldie
A “short vignette” about memory described as a “surveillance of your past as a storm in your conscience.” This was not what I was expecting at all from the description – something tender and wistful. It was actually sort of terrifying while still being visually stunning. The film was nominated for the Best of Saskatchewan and Best Experimental Film awards.
The Little House – Hayden Schutz
A depiction of the grief of losing a close friend, told through the setting of an old family house. This one hurt. It uses a diaristic narrative with intermittent shots of a young person writing, presumably the narrator. It’s nostalgic, quiet, and steeped in grief. The film won the Audience Choice award and was nominated for the Best of Saskatchewan Award.
Living With the Frenemy – Vanessa Prevost
A stop-motion and live-action film about getting too close to a roommate. I’ve seen Prevost host comedy nights around town, so I expected some funnies… and she delivered! I will say this: the worst roommate offense is actually when the blonde one eats her pizza backwards.
Look for Me – Adrienne Kaye
A “multi-format short autoethnography” that captures the struggles of being an Indigenous woman in Saskatchewan. This piece was very moving and particularly needed during the national crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). It took home the Best Documentary and Best of Saskatchewan awards!
Needle-Working – Jillian Bader
A “linear journey” of tattoos: following people as they get them and discussing the community surrounding tattoo art. As an ink enthusiast, this film really resonated with me. “Permanence is entirely about perspective and pain is temporary” is going to be my new life motto.
Night Terrors – Bella Petrovitch
Someone who reads far too much horror has a hard time getting to sleep. I loved this one. The jump cuts were super smooth and satisfying and the creeps were genuinely creepy (the bugs and the TV got me).
Print is so sweet – Ekatarina Milanovski
This documentary follows a professor of printmaking here at the university as he struggles through the pandemic. I love the idea of profiling our professors in a documentary style and would love to see more films like this. The U of R has a ton of passionate and talented staff that don’t always get the recognition they deserve!
Reflection – Aidan Barrett
An “experimental” film shot on black and white 16mm film and digital that “explores one’s connection to the past.” The use of 16mm film made the cinematography really interesting on this one!
The Son of the Son of Cthulu – William Oberon Bessai-Saul
An adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft story depicted in less than 45 seconds. I’ve admittedly never read any H.P. Lovecraft but this discordant and chaotic short definitely encapsulates the genre of “weird” fiction that I love so much.
5’9” 140-160lbs – Gabrielle Caswell
This can only be summarized by the words of the program: “An exploration of a John Doe that ended his life on the outskirts of Regina, Saskatchewan.” This piece was really haunting and made so by the narration (presumably Caswell’s voice). It was somewhat graphic in its description, too, so please be advised of that if you decide to watch it!
The Unfortunate Journey – Joey Lein
An animated short of Jimmy’s journey to get his grandmother her medication. I’m not a big fan of animation, but I also watched this right after 5’9” 140-160lbs, so it was good comedic relief.