It’s summer blockbuster season at the movies, and just in time for school break. But for a real cinephile, there’s a selection of accomplished short films that are sure to impress as much or more than many of Hollywood’s best efforts. Etobicoke School of the Arts (ESA) student films were recently honoured with the announcement of the 2012 Shaftesbury Student Filmmaker Awards. The awards recognize the top films by ESA students enrolled in each grade of the school’s film major program and showcases work that is creative and polished beyond these young filmmakers’ years.
Chaired by film critic Adam Nayman (The Grid; The Globe and Mail; Cinema Scope), the jury evaluated selections based on originality, entertainment value, production value, and overall impression. Winners received a $500 cash prize per film as well as the opportunity to spend a day on the set of a Shaftesbury production. Shaftesbury also announced a renewed commitment to the school that will see the leading creator, producer, and distributor donate $30,000 over the next three years to the ESA Film program.
"Shaftesbury is committed to nurturing young talent -- they are the future of our industry," said Shaftesbury Chairman and CEO Christina Jennings in a statement. "We look forward to supporting the growth and evolution of ESA's film program with our renewed sponsorship, and celebrating the creativity of the school's filmmakers with our awards initiative."
ESA teacher and film program head Kevin Johnson lauded Shaftesbury’s commitment to arts education. “Both the financial support and the mentoring opportunities [are] invaluable in heightening students’ educational experience.”
While ESA’s curriculum offers a full range of course selections in traditional subjects, the school also provides an opportunity for students to pursue an arts major in dance, drama, film, music (band or strings), music theatre or visual arts. Students study a minimum of two arts credits of their major each year.
The ESA film program emphasizes storytelling. By examining techniques employed by cinematic icons and contemporary filmmakers, the program gives its young filmmakers the tools to produce the stories that matter to them. Students learn to craft those stories into compelling, visually exciting narratives that reflect their own creative voices, while developing an aesthetic and critical understanding of cinematic expression.
The program began in 2008-2009 and this year graduated its first class of students. Judging from the quality of work submitted to the Shaftesbury Student Filmmaker Awards, it won't be the last that we hear from these talented artists. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the films highlighted below. Popcorn is optional.