Focus 3 film festival highlight’s local talent

Over the weekend, filmmakers across Kitchener-Waterloo had the rare opportunity to show their work, regardless of length, genre or budget-size.

Running from March 18 to the 21, the Local Focus 3 film festival, organized by the Multicultural Cinema Club (MCC) and The Working Centre in Kitchener, screened locally produced short, feature, documentary and animated films.

The 28 films in the main categories competed for jury awards with the chance to win up to $1,000 along with filmmaking packages for their future endeavors.

The jury, given the difficult task of selecting the best from among an amazing body of excellent work, included Laurier’s own English and film studies professor Philippa Gates.

The films were also up for the People’s Choice award, decided by their audience who got to vote at each screening for their favourite works.

A unique aspect was added this year called the 24 Hour Film Challenge.

As the title implies, the teams had 24 hours to put together films, making sure to meet certain criteria given to them ahead of time. Their final projects were screened on Saturday.

Some of the films were short. One of the shortest was Rangers, an animation directed by Sheridan Tech graduate Justin Lenssen, lasting only one minute and 20 seconds.

Lenssen’s film went on to win both the jury and People’s Choice awards for the animation category.

The filmmakers ranged from students like Torin Langen, director of the sci-fi short Humanoid, who made his film for a class project, to professionals, including industry expert Thomas Gofton, producer of the thought-provoking short film Nameless, founder of Lynnvander Productions in Guelph.

One thing many of the films had in common was a limited budget. Humanoid director Langen explained that “the only things we had to buy were the dust mask [worn by a character in his film] and a pizza” for the crew.

Whether they were expertly crafted or amateur films, the Local Focus 3 film festival offered a showing of the community’s diverse talent.

Will Lenssen, father of Rangers creator Justin Lenssen, summed up the festival’s value for the community stating, “Without the arts and our creativity, we lose our sensitivity, our emotions. I think it’s important that people get together and reinforce the arts.”

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