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Students get chance to screen films at WIFF

As a young boy, Josh Mellanby recalls being glued to the television, fascinated by the old episodes of The Twilight Zone that his mother had turned him on to.

“It was one of the biggest influences in my life,” the 30-year-old filmmaker says of the old Rod Serling-directed mind-bending science fiction television series. “I loved the twists of fate and the way they could craft these complex stories in such a short amount of time.”

That influence is plainly evident in Mellanby’s own work. A fourth-year student in Communication, Media and Film, he will screen his latest piece, a four-minute short called No Shelter, at the Windsor International Film Festival’s Regional Showcase of Student Films this Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre.

Shot in black and white and entirely with still photographs, the film tells the story of a reclusive photographer holed up in his basement waiting out an apocalyptic nightmare only to emerge and discover that perhaps it was he who may have been reverting to some sort of monstrous state. If the plot line seems a little hazy, that is intentional.

“I wanted it to have a vague ending,” Mellanby said of the film, which won top honours in the best rookie film and best sound design categories at last April’s University of Windsor film festival. “It’s left up to the viewer to decide what happened to the main character. I like the idea that it raises a lot of questions. To me, that’s an effective way of telling a story.”

Owen Eric Wood, currently enrolled in his first of the Masters of Fine Arts program, will also show a video called Return, a short film about the experience of being a tourist in a foreign country, confronted by different languages and cultures.

“It’s about not belonging to those places and the struggle to adjust when you come back to your old environment,” he said.

Wednesday night’s screening will showcase short films – experimental, animated or fictional – made by students from the University of Windsor, St. Clair College and the University of Michigan. Admission is $12 for adults but free for students with a valid card.

The films were curated and selected by a jury. Organizers hope to:

  • provide recognition for student filmmakers;
  • bring them together to explore possibilities for future collaboration;
  • help student filmmakers build their CVs; and
  • inspire other young filmmakers.

Mellanby said he was thrilled to have his film selected.

“It’s one thing to complete a film and show it to your friends and family,” he said. “But to have it shown on a big screen with big audio is really quite an experience. It’ll be cool just to be in the room and gauge the reaction of the audience.”