Provocative films from SFU alumnae garner awards at VIFF
By Ian Bryce
Three cab drivers navigating Vancouver’s streets, an actor posing as a private investigator at a funeral, and a Canadian poet’s journey to Iran—these three disparate plots are the subjects of films that won major awards at the 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival.
They are also films written, directed and produced by Simon Fraser University alumnae.
School of Contemporary Arts (SCA) film graduate Jessica Parsons and communication graduate Jennifer Chiu won the Ignite Award—a $20,000 prize recognizing outstanding women in film—for Cabbie. Fellow SCA film alumna Julia Hutchings won Best B.C. Short Film for Here Nor There; and Master of Fine Arts graduate Ann Marie Fleming won both the Best B.C. Film and Best Canadian Film for Window Horses.
We caught up with Parsons, Chu and Fleming to ask them about their films and awards:
How does it feel to be recognized by VIFF with this award?
Fleming: It is an honour to be acknowledged by two different juries for these awards. They set a precedent by giving these awards to an animated film. The award validates animation as a storytelling art form.
Chiu and Parsons: We were so happy to be reminded that home is one of the best places to be recognized and build community. It was a surprise and great compliment to be supported by VIFF.
How has your experience at SFU contributed to creating your film?
Chiu: My "History of Documentary" class with Zoe Druick was instrumental. Her overview of the historical, intellectual and stylistic legacy of the art form opened my mind to what documentaries could be.
Parsons: I think the BFA in Film Production program excels at encouraging young people to discover their voice as artists—the kinds of stories they want to tell, why, and how.
What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers?
Fleming: Filmmaking is extremely challenging—from financing to production to distribution. Keep doing what you love, find people that inspire you. Learn to meter rejection and judge criticism—to determine what is constructive and ignore what is not.
Chiu and Parsons: We encourage young filmmakers not to be afraid to fail. Failure is a lesson that helps you improve your practice. If you have tenacity, a strong work ethic and the ability to take constructive criticism and then act upon it you will one day find yourself with a career.
Where can we see your film next?
Fleming: Window Horses will be in theatres March 2017.
Chiu and Parsons: We are waiting to hear back from a number of festivals—you can visit our website for further updates.