Students from St. Jane Francis Catholic School on the red carpet at the Toronto Catholic Film Festival. The students took first place in the festival for their film One Faith, One Family, One School. Photo courtesy of the Toronto Catholic District School Board

TCDSB student filmmakers received red carpet treatment for their films

  • May 1, 2016

TORONTO – Student filmmakers from across the Toronto Catholic District School Board received the red carpet treatment April 21 as they celebrated the big-screen premiere of their short films.

More than 35 films were entered in the school board’s first-ever Toronto Catholic Film Festival, with the Top Ten making it to the big screen at the Yonge-Dundas Cineplex theatre.

“It’s a visual representation of the faith,” said Robert Gallo, TCDSB religion and family life resource teacher. “This event is about the animation of our faith and being proud of living out those virtues.” The Toronto Catholic Film Festival, or TCFF, was inspired by the Year of the Family, the first year of the school board’s three-year pastoral plan. To engage students in the year’s theme, student filmmakers were asked what family means to them.

Gallo partnered with Toronto Film School's Director of Special Projects Rick Bennett to facilitate free filmmaking workshops in schools last fall. Toronto Film School provided the student filmmakers with resources in the production of their film, such as release forms for filming on location and stock music for film soundtracks.

“Watching the work of young filmmakers, it’s always different. It always just sparks the creative juices that gets you going,” Bennett told the crowd of 400 students, teachers and community members at the festival. “I think you all did a great job and I really hope to see you all in the industry some day.”

The Grade 7 class at St. Jane Francis Catholic School took home first place prize for its film One Faith, One Family, One School. A roar of excitement erupted in the auditorium when the prize was announced, as if the student filmmakers had just won an Academy Award.

“It was very exciting for the students and the video meant a lot to all of us. This film really represents who we are as a school,” said Grade 7 teacher Jacqueline Khalil. “The kids really had to go home and learn about their culture and where they’re from... and how everything fits within our school family and how it fits into our faith.”

Khalil said that though the film featured stories of students in the Grade 7 class, it really was a school-wide effort.

Teacher Judy Cammarota said the project was extremely collaborative since the project began at the start of the school year.

“The students showed tremendous dedication towards this project and they were extremely motivated throughout,” she said.

Second place was awarded to Michael Power/St. Joseph Catholic Secondary School, which had three short films featured in the Top Ten, including Remembering Family which followed the journey of a boy who ran away from a tumultuous family life only to discover that there is no place like home.

Francis Libermann Catholic Secondary School took third place with the film No Greater Love. The short film featured various snapshots of Christ-centred family relationships within the school community from students, teachers and neighbours.

The winning films were judged on content, technical merit and originality by a panel of judges made up of film professionals and school board representatives.

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