Canada’s longest-running student film festival showcases world’s best short films

By Jon Tewksbury Posted: March 12, 2019 12:00 p.m.

The 2019 Living Skies Student Film Festival coordinators: (l-r) Jacob Farrell, Morgan Jones, D.J. Carnegie, Harlea Price, Jessica Davidson, Austin Nygaard, Luke Halyk
The 2019 Living Skies Student Film Festival coordinators: (l-r) Jacob Farrell, Morgan Jones, D.J. Carnegie, Harlea Price, Jessica Davidson, Austin Nygaard, Luke Halyk Photo: Austin Nygaard

The best student films from around the globe will be screened at the University of Regina this week as part of the Living Skies Student Film Festival (LSSFF). Now in its 31st year, the fest is organized by U of R film students as a way of showcasing some of the amazing projects being created by filmmakers here on campus and at other film schools both in Canada and internationally. 

Jacob Farrell, a fourth-year U of R film student, is one of the festival coordinators for the 2019 edition. This is the first time Farrell has been part of the organizing committee, and he is impressed by the incredible efforts of the LSSFF team. 

“This is an event that requires a lot of time and dedication,” said Farrell. “Film submissions opened on November 16 and because it was free to submit we received almost 2,000 films from around the world.  It was a great response, but it also took a lot of time to view that many student films!” 

Filmfest MCs

Luke Halyk and Matthew
Ripplinger at the 2018
Living Skies Student
Film Festival

Planning and organizing the busy festival takes a two-semester credit class for film students who enrol in the course. It’s a lot of work to put it all together, but the dedicated team has a passion for film. 

“We have seven coordinators so it helps to break up the projects we have to view,” said Farrell. “It was hundreds of hours of film, so for the past few months a lot of our time has been spent watching student films.” Joining Farrell as coordinators are D.J. Carnegie, Jessica Davidson, Luke Halyk, Morgan Jones, Austin Nygaard, and Harlea Price. 

Once Farrell and the team had developed a short list, the films were sent to the three-member festival jury who made their picks. In the end, 48 films were selected for the film festival, representing more than 20 countries, including nine films from right here at the U of R. The films will be screened over three days (March 14 - 16) with each screening block being roughly two hours in length and all are free to attend. 

“We strongly encourage the public to come out to the festival because there is some incredible, incredible work being presented,” said Farrell. “When you see the films coming out of these schools, it really opens your eyes to what’s out there and to the types of stories that are being told around the world.” 

When asked if he had a favourite film, Farrell replied, “There’s a couple that I really, really like. There’s a South African film called Sun Rocks, directed by Aléna Muir, that’s about a young woman’s conflict between the perspective of her family and her own more worldly view. It’s shot beautifully and features great performances. On the local side, Matthew Ripplinger’s film SIR BAILEY is a great project from the U of R. It’s a well done, mesmerizing experimental piece dedicated to Matt’s dog, Sir Bailey, who passed away shortly after the film was completed.” 

All screenings and workshops are happening at the Language Institute (La Cité) in room LI 215 (CT 215). It will be a busy three days with some interesting workshops and talks being offered during the fest. On Thursday, Gavin Baird and Kyle Zurevinski, two indie filmmakers from Saskatoon, will present their low-budget filmmaking workshop, From! The! Gut! Filmmaking! 

“We’re really excited to have Gavin and Kyle,” said Farrell. “They have already made two feature films and are currently shooting their third. It’s inspiring because they are two Saskatchewan filmmakers who are making features on their own and they are younger than I am!” 

Zarqa Nawaz, CBC journalist and creator of the television series Little Mosque on the Prairie, will be giving a talk on Friday night about her experiences as a female Muslim filmmaker. On Saturday, legendary movie producer Hugh Patterson will be out to screen his latest project SuperGrid, followed by a Q-and-A session with cast and crew. 

“Hugh Patterson and SuperGrid director Lowell Dean are both Saskatchewan-based and have carved out their own niche in terms of the Canadian film landscape. It’s great that they still make time to do stuff like our film festival. It really means a lot to us.” 

After the screening there will be an awards gala and after party on Saturday night in the Language Institute rotunda. It’s the only part of the festival that isn’t free; tickets for the gala are $10 and include music, drinks, and tasty foods. 

The 31st Annual Living Skies Student Film Festival runs March 14 – 16. Visit www.livingskiesstudentfilmfest.com for more information.

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