Toronto film makers make high-flying impact

Alain Huynh never imagined as a young kid growing up near Jane and Finch streets that he would one day win an award for animation. But that’s exactly what happened to the Sheridan College graduate student on Oct. 20 at the 2009 Air Canada enRoute Film Festival.

The festival honours short films by emerging Canadian film makers by giving them a platform for their work to be viewed by thousands of people as Air Canada passengers have access to view the films during flight.

For Huynh, winning the award for Achievement in Animation for his work Intermedium is incentive to go forward and create films that will have a message for the kids in his neighbourhood.

“I want to do things that help better humanity,” he said. “We really need something that will influence (people) and how they act.” Huynh wants to create educational films that will promote peace among the youth in his neighbourhood.

“All this war and violence that’s going on, we really need something to stop it,” he said.

Huynh hopes to make films that encourage youth to pursue constructive outlets for their energy like he does with animation, and said his own triumph proves that anyone can do what they love if they set their minds to it.

Jake Chirico, who won Best Documentary for his film The Freshwater Plague, is already busy producing two other documentaries while attending school at York University. He gives this advice to anyone who is looking to make a film.

“If you’re really passionate about it, keep pushing,” Chirico said. “I don’t care if you’re tired, I don’t care if you’re sick, you’ve got to get out there and shoot. You’ve got to keep the ball rolling.”

Festival organizer Shane Smith hopes film makers will take Chirico’s advice. He’s confident the festival will keep growing and is impressed by the talent Canadians have when it comes to making films.

“The biggest change is the quality and the number of the entries,” Smith said.

The festival received over 300 submissions and had the difficult task of cutting down the list to six films total to compete in the categories for Best Short Film, Best Documentary, and achievement awards in animation, direction and cinematography.

Other winners for the night included Sarah Fortin, who won Achievement in Direction and Best Short Film for her entry, Synthétiseur, and Leigh Ann Maynard for Achievement in Cinematography for her film, A Season to Wither.

This is the third year for the festival which highlights Canadian talent by showcasing short films only.

A free screening of the shortlisted films was held at Scotiabank Theatre prior to the awards gala held at the Drake Hotel. The judges who attendance included actor Rémy Girard, Judy Gladstone from Bravo!FACT and director Michael McGowan. Actress Lisa Ray and director Deepa Mehta also judged the final six films.