A psychological suspense-filled genre short, rich with atmosphere, strong directing, excellent sound design, and virtually no dialogue, was the winner of this year’s Obelisk Film and Photo Festival held at the Arden Theatre on Monday evening.
Home was the brilliant creation of Jasper Place High School students director Maddux Maskoske and cinematographer Marc Busilan, who edited the work with Brandon Der. All three co-wrote the piece along with Matthew Dykstra, who did the sound design. It was dark, moody, and utterly riveting.
That’s a stark contrast from the first and second runner-up winners. It Ain’t Easy Being Green was the highly comedic look at one young man’s way of dealing with his troubles by picking up the persona of Kermit the Frog, complete with full head costume. It makes him happy but his friends see through his disguise and try to hold an intervention. There were many laughs in this Spinal Tap-like pseudo-documentary from the Bellerose High School team composed of Malcolm Isaac, Maxim Baseley and Simon Wong.
Third place was The Making of a Quesadilla, an astutely directed ‘how to’ type short that was half-factual, half-sublime nonsense. There was much evidence of technical proficiency and even some touches of wry Wes Anderson in this piece by Ethan Dorn of Paul Kane High School.
The rest of the screenings included relationship dramas, hostage situations, scenes from an intergenerational family, a quirky Tim Burton-esque goth situational comedy, and a highly energetic 90-second finger gun battle.
Bellerose film studies teacher and co-organizer Dave Edwards expressed his delight at the often surprising variety and quality of the submissions.
“It's neat to see kids master things that you don't expect teenagers to be able to master sometimes. It always surprises me how they go above and beyond and find a way to make a film that you really want to watch,” he said.
Students are only given the parameters of making a film that is up to six minutes in length and must be appropriate for a public audience. “All of the ideas, all the creativity is one hundred per cent student-driven. There are tons of kids out there with great ideas that we want to see,” Edwards added.
Other than that, the only assistance they get is equipment loans. The competition is open to all high school students in the Edmonton area.
Before the films were screened, the photography exhibit was hosted in Progress Hall. First place was won by Kyle Fisher from Bellerose, with Ella Burch, also from Bellerose, and Elorra Marchand from Paul Kane, taking second and third prizes respectively.