Martin Ouellette as the man in "Rabbit and the Snare"Martin Ouellette was named Best Actor at the Central Alberta Film Festival for his role in a work by film students Gemma Cunial and Calum Hotchkiss.

Film students buoyed by festival recognition

Trading places proved especially rewarding for film student Gemma Cunial (BA 2019) when actor Martin Ouellette (BA 2013) won recognition at the Central Alberta Film Festival this past weekend for his performance in a short she helmed.

Ouellette was named Best Actor for his work in Rabbit and the Snare, directed by Cunial and her fellow MFA student Calum Hotchkiss (BA 2018). Hotchkiss headed the cinematography; Cunial produced and wrote the screenplay, which follows a man (Ouellette) who must survive a snowy Canadian winter when he falls into isolation after the death of his young daughter.

Cunial had worked with Ouellette when he directed her in plays with KordaZone Theatre.

“It’s fun to have the roles reversed, where I get to direct him from behind the lens,” she says. “One of my favourite things about making films in Windsor is working with its local acting community.”

Rabbit and the Snare also received a nomination for Best Short Narrative at the festival, held in Red Deer, Oct. 14 to 17. It premiered at the Windsor International Film Festival in 2019 and has since screened at the Oregon Short Film Festival, the Short to the Point festival in Romania, the Canadian Cinematography Awards, and the Ontario International Film Festival.

Hotchkiss notes this was his first project outside of school.

“It’s encouraging to be recognized for our efforts,” he says. “Martin is a tremendous talent; we were very fortunate to have him bring our story to life.”

Besides Cunial and Hotchkiss, the production involved UWindsor students and alumni shooting on location across Essex County over the winter of 2019, including: Alysha Baker (BA 2017), Armend Bajrami (BA 2018), Brandon Bastien (BA 2019), Nathan Bergs (BA 2017), Mitchell Branget (BA 2019), Douglas Cunningham (BA 2015), Jay Li (BA 2019), Aruna Martin-Bhalla, Rachel McEwen (BA 2020), Vy Nguyen (BA 2016), Braunte Petric (BA 2019), Niall Quinn (BA 2019), Will Rogers, Sikandar Saleem, and Kitu Turcas. M.Ed student Stephanie Johnston created special effects.