Focus Film Festival rolls out red carpet at Grant Hall

72-hour film festival demonstrates filmmaking talent 

Focus Film Festival’s premiere gala at Grant Hall. 
Photo by Beibei Li

With only a theme, a camera, and 72-hours, 100 participants from 14 groups had to shoot and edit their own short films for this year’s Focus Film Festival. 

On Thursday, a full-house saw the results of each participant’s hard work as the 14 short films made their debut at the annual gala held at Grant Hall. Students, members of the public, and industry professionals were in the audience at the evening’s gala. 

This year’s theme, Focus Blockbuster, required each team to create a film based on a classic movie quote given to them prior to the competition period. The quotes varied from The Wizard of Oz’s, “There’s no place like home!” to The Godfather’s, “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” 

“It’s funny to see where everyone takes the idea, people get so creative with the quotes,” said Alexandra Phillips, ArtSci ’20, one of the Focus Film Festival co-directors. 

Open to all faculties, the festival asks that participants simply have an interest in film and a willingness to learn. 

“We put the participants in groups based on skills and interests, you can apply with an interest in anything from cinematography to acting and be placed accordingly”, said Sean Stead-Fecser, ArtSci ’19, one of the festival co-directors. 

Once all of the films are produced and submitted, they premiere at the annual gala where students, members of the public, and industry professionals gather to celebrate the hard work put into each film. 

The semi-formal gala and screening provided nearly all the glamour of a star-studded awards show, featuring a red carpet photo-op, food and drink, and a raffle for $50 worth of assorted gift cards. 

The 14 films were screened and with a potential to win one of the 14 awards handed out by the festival’s three judges: Toronto filmmaker Ray Savaya, Queen’s Alumni and accomplished actress,Sara Garcia, and esteemed acting coach Dean Armstrong. 

After the 14 films were screened, the audience voted for its choice for Best Film which went to Pursuit of the UniKiller, a mockumentary style short following the life of an aspiring serial killer. The film also won Best Actor, Best Screenplay, and Best Editing.  

While the Blockbuster theme ensured original content, horror and relationship issues were recurring themes in several films. The 14 categories for awards varied from First Submission, honouring timeliness, to Best Use of Theme. The films ranged from the silent, audio-muffled film Blue, which focused on the struggles of relationships, to cult-crazed sorority girls in Zeta Zeta Zeta. 

Each film kept the audience uniquely engaged and waiting on the edge of its seat for what came next. The festival was an evening full of entertainment and networking for students inspired by filmmaking. 

Despite the quick turnaround and emphasis on theme, each of the films this year succeeded in gaining a positive audience response and, together, created a lively evening of film among friends.


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