From 93 countries, a common theme emerges for Living Skies film fest

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Luke Halyk and Morgan Jones noticed a theme as they sifted through more than 1,000 submissions to the Living Skies Student Film Festival.

“There seemed to be a lot of coming-of-age type young adult stories, where younger adults coming out into the world and dealing with the struggles of that age group in the modern world,” said Halyk, one of seven University of Regina film students to help co-ordinate the 31st annual film festival, which starts Thursday.

“There’s definitely a sense of youth and trying to find your place in the world in a lot of those films,” said Jones, a fellow festival organizer and fourth-year film student.

It was a common thread in many of the approximately 1,200 films from 93 countries that were in the running for festival selection.

“The people that are just graduating and leaving university, young adults, are trying to find themselves in the world and they’re trying to make films that reflect their experience,” said Halyk.

“It’s interesting to see these common themes kind of resonate from those countries. And I think it speaks a lot to how people are experiencing and it is kind of a connected tissue.”


The Living Skies Student Film Festival organizers are (from left) Jacob Farrell, Morgan Jones, D.J. Carnegie, Harlea Price, Jessica Davidson, Austin Nygaard and Luke Halyk.

Supplied photo

U of R film students Jacob Farrell, D.J. Carnegie, Harlea Price, Jessica Davidson and Austin Nygaard also helped select the 48 films being screened this weekend — from countries including the United Kingdom, Portugal, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, Slovakia, Taiwan, Israel, Iran, India and South Africa.

One that resonated with both Halyk and Jones is Heartburn (Mal de coeur) by Quebecois filmmaker Franie-Eleonore Bernier.

A man named Ghislain (portrayed by Pascal Contamine) “knows that everything in the world is just going wrong, so his heart starts falling out of his body and his brother has to try and make him laugh to fix it,” said Jones.

“It’s kind of a more dramatic piece, but it has a touch of light humour and it has to do with the setting in of depression and kind of overcoming that,” said Halyk. “But it has a really nice light tone despite dealing with that subject matter.”

Nine films by U of R students will screen, including two winners from the Saskatchewan Independent Film Awards in November: Joel Makar and Kenton Evenson’s film, Beta Test, and Matthew Ripplinger’s film, Sir Bailey.

The films are in competition in five categories: graduate, fiction, animation, documentary and experimental, with winners to be determined by jurors Eric Hill, Janine Windolph and Alex Rogalski.

Most of the films are not available online, and many are having their premiere at this festival — two reasons, said Halyk, for people to attend the festival.

Plus, “One of the best parts about watching short films is … there’s such a different format fundamentally from features or TV even, because typically you’re only dealing with, in this case, a three- to 15-minute run time.

“To tell a full and intricate story in that amount of time is difficult and it’s pretty impressive and it can be really inspiring the way that some of these filmmakers are pulling it off.”

The Living Skies Student Film Festival takes place this weekend, March 14-16, at the University of Regina Language Institute.

Screenings are: Thursday, 8-10 p.m.; Friday, 5-7 p.m.; Saturday, 2-4 p.m.

The festival’s special events include: From the Gut filmmaking workshop, Thursday at 6 p.m.; An Evening with Zarqa Nawaz, Friday at 7:30 p.m.; a SuperGrid film screening Saturday at 6:30 p.m.; and the awards gala Saturday at 8 p.m.

Tickets to the awards gala are $10. Other events are free to attend.

amartin@postmedia.com

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