Focusing on student filmmakers

What to expect from this year’s Focus Film Festival

Festival co-director Tiffany Mikalachki presenting to last year’s gala crowd.
Festival co-director Tiffany Mikalachki presenting to last year’s gala crowd.
Credit: 
Supplied by Emma Zinck

In just three days, students participating in the annual Focus Film Festival must conceptualize, write, shoot, direct and edit a short film. 

The 13th annual Focus Film Festival is a student-run film festival showcasing, judging and awarding short films made by groups of students over the course of 72 hours.

In early January, festival organizers divide participating student filmmakers from all faculties into groups. Because filmmaking experience isn’t a requirement to participate, participants are sorted into groups based on skill level and access to film equipment. They are then given the weekend to craft a short film based on the 

festival’s theme. 

One of the festival’s co-directors, Grace Kim, ArtSci ’17, said this combination of skill and interest level across facilities makes Focus unique. She and her co-director Tiffany Mikalachki, ArtSci ’17, oversee Focus’ executive team. 

“What’s bringing people together is what they love to do and what they’re interested in,” Kim said.

This year, the festival’s theme — it’s titled “What’s Your Number?” — is particularly intriguing. This year, student filmmakers are required to take meaningful numbers we encounter everyday, such as 11:11, 365, 24/7 and 3.14, and build a creative storyline around them. 

“We were both interested in the idea of numbers and how they are prevalent in our everyday lives, even if we don’t think about it,” Kim said. 

Kim and Mikalachki will be the only people to have seen the films before the festival’s screening event and gala on Jan. 28 at Grant Hall.  Although they couldn’t share the premise of the films, they said they were impressed by the quality of this year’s films. 

“We were really impressed with what the groups did this year,” Kim said. “There were some groups that kept the original meaning of the number, but added their own little twist to it.”

This year’s gala and screening will feature 15 short films accompanied by red carpets, free popcorn and industry judges. The panel of judges for the event includes Laura Good, the Senior Programming Coordinator of Film Circuit for Toronto International Film Festival.  

This year’s panel will also feature judges from the Kingston Canadian Film Festival looking to select three films for their short film program. 

The screening and gala will take place on Jan. 28 at Grant Hall. The event is open to all students and members of the public. 

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