On May 29, 2010, the Multimedia Film Development Council of York Region (hereafter referred to as the “Film Development Council”) was struck. The Film Development Council was formed in response to, and in recognition of the increased diversity within York Region and the vital importance of engaging immigrant and/or diverse communities as well as individuals in a region-wide conversation regarding their life experiences--in particular and the successes and challenges of our Region in general.
Since its inception and in less than a year, the Film Development Council facilitated several multifaceted/multilayered events across the Region--over the span of three weeks. The success experienced by the Council is largely owed to the collaborative work of several diverse organizations that it embodies.
The theme of the inaugural year of the Multimedia Film Festival of York Region was: “RICH TAPESTRY; MOSAIC FRAGMENTS.” RICH TAPESTRY speaks to the rich and varied diversity of those within the Region as well as that of our geography (e.g. farmlands, urban and rural areas, and so forth).
MOSAIC FRAGMENTSspeaks to the vibrant fragments that represent our whole as a Region—whether that be ethno-cultural communities or geographic areas. In essence, the parts of a large quilt that is too often--fragmented (e.g. ethno-cultural communities living in silos next to each other (e.g. a Sunni community next to a Sikh community or a Jewish community); malls right next to cornfields etc.)
At the conclusion of the February 2010 film festival submission deadline, over fifty multimedia submissions were received from individuals, diverse communities, agencies, students and teachers alike among others. Submissions were received from: grades 3 and 4 students from Waabgon Gamig First Nation School, Georgina Island, professional filmmakers, women’s shelters, children mental health agencies, and other diverse human service agencies (e.g. the AIDS Committee of York Region, Sandgate Women’s Shelter, The Alliance to end Homelessness in York Region, the Krasman Centre, Social Services Network, Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives and so forth). Multimedia submissions were received from all across the Region and as far away as Owen Sound and Toronto (York Region content a must). All submissions explored diversity and social issues within our Region.
In view of the enthusiasm and proactive efforts made by Mayor Frank Scarpitti and Mayor Robert Grossi toward hosting the film festival, the Film Development Council selected the Town of Georgina and Markham as host municipalities. Both mayors attended all regional events associated with the festival and were quite helpful thorough out the planning stage.
On March 10th, 2010, the Film Development Council successfully hosted a sizable and very impressive media launch event which garnered 4 separate articles that were published in several newspapers across the Region.
On May 5th, 2010, the Film Development Council hosted a Corporate Kick-Off event in the Great Hall at the Regional Building, which was keynoted by Minster Michael Chan, Ministry of Tourism & Culture. Those in attendance included several senior regional bureaucrats and political figures, members of the arts community and film industry, residents of the Region, senior representatives of both the Catholic and public board among other dignitaries and community members.
Thereafter, five successful screening events were hosted between the Town of Markham and Georgina which gave life to a number of courageous conversations regarding mental health issues, Violence Against Women, First Nations communities, social justice, equity and the determinants of health, AIDS and York Region, diversity and its challenges, and youth issues (e.g. substance misuse, depression, peer pressure, the drawbacks of social media, intergenerational confrontations etc.).
With the assistance of York Region District School Board (YRDSB) Superintendants Margaret Roberts, Cecil Roach and Helen Fox, an in-school sub-committee of the Film Development Council staffed by senior Board staff and the assistance of York University’s Broadband network, films that are relevant to youth issues were streamed simultaneously between Sutton H.S., Keswick H.S. and Unionville H.S.. The films that were screened were interspersed with lively discussions, music and art. The multifaceted event was said to be extremely engaging and achieved several “first” for students/the Public Board. Namely, the event itself and the conversations generated between all three schools across the north and south of the Region and the art work created as inspired by the films viewed (a 6’x7’ mural inspired by the content of the films) were considered ground breaking. It demonstrated that students do care about social issues and the Region as a whole. It was estimated that 300 students participated. The above event was available on-line in real time via a provided link.
The Film Development Council also approached and formed a partnership with York University’s Fine Arts Department in an effort to create a virtual multimedia film development institute for youth/students across the Region in the form of workshops. A local actor, director and producer, Thomas Curts, was recruited to teach students at Discovery Public School in the art of filmmaking.
On May 19th 2010, an Awards & Closing Gala convened in the Great Hall of the Regional Building. Once more, the Great Hall was overflowing with people from across the Region; from Georgia Island (e.g. Bill McCue Councillor of Chippewas of Georgina Island, Elder Barb McDonald, Chippewas of Georgina Island, the grades 3 & 4 students from Waabgon Gamig First Nation School—Georgina Island) to King Township and Markham.
The Multimedia Film Festival also included a region-wide photography contest entitled: Peoples’ Choice Award—The Essence of York Region. Up-and-coming and experienced photographers who believed they had taken the photograph of all photographs that capture the essence of York Region were asked to submit an 8” x 10” copy of it. In response, sixty photographs were submitted from across the Region.
Garfield Minott, World acclaimed palaeon-artist and a former resident of Vaughan was commissioned to do a painting that represents the theme of the debut year of the film festival: “RICH TAPESTRY; MOSAIC FRAGMENTS.”
The painting was done in acrylic on a 5 feet by 4 feet canvas. The painting depicts: the Regional Building in the far background on the horizon behind trees displaying Fall colours. In the mid-ground a vast cornfield can be seen; in the near foreground five children from diverse ethno-cultural backgrounds (and a dog) sit on a dock overlooking a body of water-laughing/enjoying each other’s company.
The painting was digitized and used as a watermark for film festival awards (e.g. on plaques, certificates, etc.) and all advertisement materials. The painting is currently on display at the Georgina Arts Centre & Gallery and is likely to be exhibited at different art galleries across the Region.
Overall, approximately 3,000 people attended the multimedia film festival and associated events; over two thousand frequented the festival’s website. Attendees to all events included: artists from many disciplines, politicians, a spectrum of community members and leaders, human service professionals, corporate figures, and the media.
In the latter two weeks of May/2011, the Second Annual Multimedia Film Festival of York Region will be hosted by eight municipalities as per the endorsement of their mayors and associated councils: Town of Georgina, Town of Markham, City of Vaughan, Town of Richmond Hill, Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville, Town of Newmarket, King Township and Town of Aurora. Most have booked their marquee venues to showcase submissions selected to be screened during the festival. Indeed, May/2011 promises to be filled with pageantry, award presentations and celebration. Don’t miss it!