Desiree Wallace and Cedar travelled to the Alberta tar sands together. Courtesy Nancy Bleck

Langley film fest features students, local talent

The Langley International Film Festival runs from Friday, April 12 to 13.

Langley International Film Festival (LIFF) is returning for the fourth year this weekend, and the community is invited to enjoy a weekend packed with student films, documentaries, and award-winning productions. All proceeds support art and film programs at Langley schools.

The festival offers screenings on Friday, April 12, and Saturday, April 13, as well as an opening night reception, and question and answer periods with directors and producers. Filmmaker and director John Pozer will also give a presentation on Friday at 4 p.m.

Kicking off the festival on Friday afternoon from 2 to 4 p.m. are student short films.

Three young women from Brookswood Secondary will be presenting their film Prism, which also won first place in the best technical category, and second place overall in last year’s Zoom Festival – a student film competition where submissions must be written, shot, and produced within a 48-hour period, and in accordance with a given theme and a prop.

Grade 12 students Piper French, director, Kendra Sue, actress, and Emily De Giusti, cinematographer, are part of the team that created Prism.

French explained the film is based off of the 2018 Zoom Festival theme, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” and the prop was a CD.

Sue elaborated that the film is about two friends who feel they owe each other something.

“It’s about friendship, memories, and having to let go of things that you might not of wanted to, but then you’re better off for it.”

All three students have been in film classes at Brookswood since Grade 9, and have participated in three Zoom Festivals before.

“Over the years, we’ve gotten a lot better. Watching the finished product and seeing it look like other professional short films we’ve seen is kind of cool,” explained Sue.

“Actually being proud of your project is the greatest feeling ever,” added De Giusti.

One of the biggest challenges in making Prism was coming up with the original idea, French explained.

“Coming up with the idea on the first day is super stressful because you want it done before the next day, and it has to be good,” she added.

After graduation, De Giusti plans to pursue a career in film as a cinematographer. French plans to study environmental studies at Simon Fraser University, and pursue film on the side, and Sue plans on working, but is unsure if she will further pursue film.

Another local Langley graduate, Desiree Wallace, will also have her documentary Res-urgency screened at the fest.

Wallace graduated from Langley Secondary School and completed post-secondary at Capilano University’s global stewardship program, and at the BOSA Centre for Film and Animation.

She explained Res-urgency follows the story of Cedar George Parker, a young First Nations man who experienced a high school shooting in 2014 at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Washington.

The film shows Cedar’s journey of healing, and how the trauma led him to become an environmental advocate.

“As you see through the film, Cedar is initially in a place of despair, but he moves forward, expands his horizons, and gets to a place where he can heal and move forward. That takes him to the front line of Indigenous solidarity work throughout the world,” explained Wallace.

She added the film explores social, environmental, and climate injustice.

“It’s about creating a sense of hope for the future generation. It was strategically produced to mobilize people to stand up and take action. I think what’s so powerful about Res-urgency is it’s showcasing our generations’ youth standing up and reclaiming our future, in a gracious way, but in a powerful way.”

The film is only available to view at select film festivals.

Wallace added she’s happy to be part of LIFF, because it’s a festival that focuses on empowering student filmmakers.

“For them [students] to see alumni from Langley go out and turn film into a professional career, which I’m doing now…it’s nice to have those generations link to alumni to encourage students within the Langley School District.”

Also showing at the festival will be popular productions The BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, Indian Horse, and When the Storm Fades.

LIFF is at the Chief Sepass Theatre on April 12-13. Tickets and a full schedule of screening and presentations can be found at www.langleyschooldistrictfoundation.com/events-.html.

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