On January 22, RenderThis hosted their fifth annual film festival at which students from Brock University and Niagara College were invited to submit their short films to be judged by the audience and a jury. The event took place in the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre for the first time rather than at Landmark in the Pen Centre Cinemas like in past years, making this event much more accessible to students. This year there were a total of 16 films that were chosen for viewing at the festival; the following is a list of the films who were given runner-up, the jury award and the audience choice award respectively.
Timebomb follows a university student who stumbles upon a timebomb rigged to explode. This unlikely hero must meet more than just the deadline for his Earth Science project, he must find the remaining three bombs at Brock before the countdown runs out. Timebomb is probably one of the most meticulously well-crafted student films I’ve ever seen. By taking the unique approach of a silent film, not only does it go into relatively fresh territory, but it also allows the inevitable seams of low-budget productions to be hidden from the audience’s view. The film’s interaction with music decorates a fast-paced and intense scavenger hunt through familiar corridors and locales across campus.
The film’s pedigree was established at RenderThis as the film nabbed the position of second runner-up. The director of Timebomb is Cory Maddalona, a fourth-year Film Studies and English major at Brock.
Casual is a humorous film about a young man who must overcome the biggest challenge of his new career: casual Friday.
The young man in the film struggles with finding something casual to wear while his friend eagerly tries to dress him to dress the way everyone else dresses. The issue is that he has only ever worn dress clothes due to his deceased father pressuring him to be as professional as possible and to work as hard as he did to provide for his family. In fear of disappointing his father, he maintains his professional look and is uncomfortable with dressing otherwise. Though it deals with the comical idea of needing help with finding something casual to wear, it also deals with a number of issue such as the conflict between honouring a loved one who has passed but also overcoming those pressures and finding oneself, even on something as simple as a casual Friday. This comical but insightful film that examines the anxieties of the way one dresses was given the position of first runner-up. The director of casual is Nicholas Janzen, a second-year film major at Brock University.
Steampunk as a mode of fiction is so utterly unnerving, yet compelling. Mix the unique style with the animation of High T.N.T and you get a film that’s clever enough to be on Adult Swim and pithy enough to be made into a cartoon for The New Yorker. The film follows Queen Vicky, a moody, robotic, tea-consuming monstrosity that flies high above the streets of Victorian England in blimp-like headquarters. The animation is infused with a high-English spirit, and uses the cultural assumptions one might have about England to its advantage to make a meaningful, yet not heavy-handed, thematic point.
Quite frankly, watching the usually stoic queen mother have a meltdown as she runs out of Earl Grey is a situation that is as ironically significant as it is funny. High T.N.T took home the Jury Award. The director of High T.N.T is Kevin McGuiness, a third-year PhD student in Interdisciplinary Humanities at Brock.
Sonny Side Up
Timebomb star, Mike Soppit, a fifth-year Film Studies major with a minor in Dramatic Arts at Brock also leads in Sonny Side Up, but this time he’s also taking a seat in the director’s chair.
Sonny Side Up follows a Brock student, played by Alex Preston, whose childhood imaginary friend resurfaces after nearly a decade. The movie probes relationships, conceptions of reality and the morality, and practicality of prescribing drugs with unknown side effects.
The movie’s playful tone creates a viewing experience that is absolutely enthralling. Beyond the “Oscar baiting” in the film, it is genuinely funny and wellwritten. Who can argue after all with a statement as hilarious as, “The faster you fall behind, the longer you have to catch up”?
Sonny Side Up showed a very human side of a pharmaceutical oversight, and as a result, the film was given the audience choice award.