The Canadian Film Fest (CFF) running from March 28 to April 1 at the Scotiabank Theatre is presenting various films presented by York alumni in a hybrid format. Showcasing 61 per cent female and 54 per cent BIPOC filmmakers, the films will explore a variety of themes including friendship, identity, and racism.
Aisha Evelyna graduated from York ten years ago in a fine arts program and directed ALEX, a short film presented at the CFF.
Evelyna explains that the film was inspired by her friend, who is also a co-producer and cinematographer for the film, J Stevens, saying that, “in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, when a lot of us were demoralized, J reached out to me. Eager to work together, we started dreaming about what we wanted to see and what kind of work excited us. What I was most curious to explore was how discrimination has taken a new form in 2023.
“I was essentially inspired to direct this film because I wanted to help make change. I wanted to help illuminate what antiblack racism looks like in 2023 by grounding audience understandings of lofty concepts like ‘systemic racism’ and ‘implicit bias’ in a relatable and familiar world,” continues Evelyna.
Adrian Murray holds a BFA in Screenwriting and an MA in Film Production. His feature film, Retrograde, follows the story of a neurotic young woman who receives a minor traffic citation, which shortly turns into an obsession. Murray expresses that he was drawn to create this film because of a past housemate, Molly Reisman, who plays the leading character.
“I find her presence so fierce and compelling, so I wrote this for her to star in. I also had a few story ideas floating around that I wanted to write about — one about astrology, and the other about a feud with a cop. I ended up weaving these together and found they interacted in interesting ways,” says Murray.
Discussing the logistics about creating a film, Murray explains that, “the whole thing is quite a hustle and you never have enough time or money. It’s easy to burn out — I had a full time job while directing this so on top of working on the film during the day I had a lot of emails to answer in the evening. As for successes, I feel so grateful and lucky to have the opportunity to make films with my friends, and to see different people connect to different parts of them.
“I benefited from working with what I had instead of waiting for a funding body to approve me. Funding and resources naturally create a lot of limitations in filmmaking, but if you can find ways to make the most of what’s available to you and experiment, that’s where a lot of exciting discoveries can happen,” adds Murray.
For Evelyna, she is most looking forward to premiering her film in her hometown, saying, “I’ve been lucky enough to travel all around North America with the film and screen it, but getting to share the film with people that I know and love, as well as the incredibly talented artists that worked on the film, is truly something special.”To learn more about the CFF and how to watch Retrograde and ALEX, and other submissions, click here.