Screencap from the film Nightmare. Courtesy Shaq Hosein.

The University of Toronto’s filmmaking club Raindance On Campus recently collaborated with the Hart House Film Board to present the first 48-Hour Film Challenge of the school year. As the name states, the challenge for the filmmakers was to write and produce a short film over the weekend prior to the screenings. Necessarily, the challenge was met with expected difficulties and unexpected bonding amongst film crews.

On Saturday, November 21, the eight films were screened in the Debates Room located at Hart House.

In their first joint effort, club leader Sina Dolati and film board curator Minsoo Koh organized the event with the aim of bringing together aspiring filmmakers to have their artwork presented to an audience. Dolati and Koh both found the event to be a rewarding experience. “There were definitely people from Raindance that didn’t know about Hart House and people from Hart House that didn’t know anything about Raindance, so it was good to get all those people into one big festival,” said Koh in a post-screening interview.

The pair were supervised by Rick Palidwor, program advisor at Hart House and director of the U of T Film Festival, an event that occurs March. Together, the trio acted as film exhibitors, planning the competition in September, when Palidwor hosted a screening party and expressed interest in collaborating.

The bulk of the night was spent watching films that ranged in durations, styles, and genres. The only stipulation was that all films had to feature, at some point during the movie, a wired phone, and the line “they all gave me dirty looks.” How each theme was presented, and exactly how prominently, was entirely up to the filmmakers.

It was interesting to see what teams came up with, given the circumstances and how each element was incorporated, whether it was to humorous or horrific effect. Keith Cameron, whose film I Think My House Is Haunted placed first, shared the brainstorming session with his team, explaining that “for a while we weren’t sure… it was kind of a washout for us. It took us a long time to come up with an idea, and we almost buckled… But when we came up with the basic idea, then we started coming up with jokes for it. We all kind of had a sense of what we were doing.”

For future competitions, Dolati and Koh inform me that they wish to see submissions from other campuses, and that they are in the early stages of another challenge that will begin over the holidays. Dolati hopes to see triple the amount of submissions, and thinks that with the help of other campuses, this could very well be attainable. “Every film had something that was really good,” he says. “Some films had an amazing story, some films had amazing camerawork.”

With an overwhelming sense of positivity, the duo is looking forward to future U of T events in which moviemakers are encouraged to submit their art for an audience to see.

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