It is no secret that for many years, some serious film talent has been coming out of École secondaire Oak Park High School.
Countless students have received an introduction into the industry, and then go to lead successful careers. The Pembina Trails high school has earned a solid reputation in Manitoba and even across the country.
At the end of February, The Toronto International Film Festival’s theatre, Bell Light Box, will screen the work of not one, but 11 students and or graduates with ties to Oak Park.
"I had shot films at Oak Park before, but this was the first time we were stepping out there,” shared current student, Nicole Lavallee. “It was just us and it is pretty nice to see it go on to bigger things.”
Lavallee is part of a group of Oak Park students who created the short film called Bears. Inspired by the sounds and scenes of the forest, the movie follows two sisters on an enchanting journey of self-discovery, courage and love.
The film will be played as part of the Winnipeg Film Group's (WFG), collection The 48, a 6-Year Retrospective. The show, curated by WFG’s Ben Williams, includes 18 top films from the 48 hour film contest. Each year, WFG hosts a competition where participants write, shoot, edit, short films in only two days.
Professional actor, producer and coach, Joanne Roberts, graduated in 2009 from Oak Park. The film she played lead in, The Perfect Life, will also be part of the Toronto screening. When Roberts learned her work would be played at Bell Light Box, she had to reread the acceptance email a dozen times. She credits this opportunity to the support of Oak Park’s film program.
“I really appreciated how accurate it all was,” said Roberts. “It always felt like we were on a real film set. This helped me as an actor because I knew, before graduating high school, what would be expected in the industry.”
“The film program at Oak Park was incredible,” shares class of 2019 graduate Adam Yarish. “I took it all four of my years at Oak Park and I learned new things every time. I had plenty of experiences to draw from that greatly improved my capability as a filmmaker. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to work on a film set and I was amazed at how familiar everything felt to me. It was my first time stepping foot on a professional, industry level set and I was anticipating being overwhelmed but I found that I recognized everything, it was all the same pieces I'd worked with for years, just on a bigger chess board.”
Yarish’s film, Criminally Addicted, is a comedy about a man meeting his therapist to talk about this time living on the wrong side of the law. It, too, will be part of Toronto International Film Festival venue screening.
“I've been making movies since I was 8 years old, and the fact that something I made with my friends last year is being screened at an event for one of the most well known film festivals in Canada is pretty exciting for me.”
The show will play at Bell Lightbox in Toronto at 9 p.m. on Thursday, February 27, 2020. Congratulations to all our Pembina Trails filmmakers.
Watch Criminally Addicted
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