Student film to be shown at Toronto International Film Festival

By Costa Maragos Posted: January 5, 2017 8:00 a.m.

Ella Mikkola’s short film SAARI is described as a film that “skillfully blends film, photos, and archival childhood footage to create a mesmerizing experimental video collage.”
Ella Mikkola’s short film SAARI is described as a film that “skillfully blends film, photos, and archival childhood footage to create a mesmerizing experimental video collage.” Photo by Rae Graham – U of R Photography.

Film student Ella Mikkola is making a big splash early in her film career.

Mikkola’s short film, SAARI, has been selected by the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) as one of Canada’s top ten student films.  

The film will be screened at the 16th annual Canada’s Top Ten Festival – held by TIFF January 13 to 26 in Toronto. The event celebrates the best in Canadian cinema. SAARI will also be shown at the Regina Public Library Film Theatre on January 21.

“I got happy in an emotional way. Happy tears,” says Mikkola, when recalling her feelings upon hearing the news. “It is a great opportunity for me, for a student filmmaker, to network with some of the most important people in the industry. It will be really nice meeting other student filmmakers as well.”

Mikkola is working on her master of fine arts in the Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance. She arrived at the U of R in 2015 as an exchange student from Finland and created her film while in the undergrad program.

She earned a journalism degree from the University of Tampere in Finland.

SAARI – which means “island” in Finnish – has also been screened at various film festivals, including the Montreal Festival du Nouveau Cinema, the AE Film Festival in Minnesota (celebrating short-form experimental film), where it won the creative vision award, the Artova Film Festival in Helsinki, Finland and the Another Experiment by Women Film Festival in New York.

Locally, SAARI won Best Student Film and Best Technical Achievement Awards at the Saskatchewan Independent Film Awards in November, 2016.

The piece features footage shot by Mikkola about 10 years ago, during her teenage visits to the family cottage on the southwest coast of Finland

“We have a cottage on an archipelago. That’s where I spent my summers,” says Mikkola.    

SAARI is described by TIFF as a film that “skillfully blends film, photos, and archival childhood footage to create a mesmerizing experimental video collage that explores escape and preserving memory.”

Mikkola credits her success to the support she has received from the film department, and particularly the mentorship of professors Kyath Battie and Mike Rollo.

“It is overwhelming sometimes. I have not been used to this kind of support from the professors,” says Mikkola. “They teach me and guide me outside my classes which has been very important to me. I feel this place (Regina) for me is the best place to be creative at the moment. It is safe enough and it is not too far culturally from where I come from.”

Mikkola joins Candy Fox (2015) and Matt Yim (2012) as U of R students who have had their films featured at TIFF’s Top Ten.