Indie film fest features six U of O alumni

When it comes to the Mirror Mountain Film Festival, an international film fest taking place in Ottawa next month, “expect the unexpected”, says the project’s director Christopher Rohde.

It’s an accurate description of the event, seeing as the festival might just be the first of its kind in Ottawa—a three-day event that celebrates both local and global filmmakers, with a special focus on underground, indie, and alternative films.

Rohde has been a part of the local art scene for a decade, but wanted to see more support and recognition of local filmmakers.

“It was something that I’ve been thinking about doing for a long time,” says Rohde, who wanted to combine all of his interests into a singular project.

The festival will take place at Club SAW and the Arts Court Theatre, with an event schedule that includes exclusive screenings, an award ceremony, panel discussions with local artists, and both opening and closing night celebrations.

One of the filmmakers featured is a recent University of Ottawa alumna, Angelina Kuok. A communications graduate, Kuok created a short film entitled Senbazuru as part of a media production class with classmates, Udoka Ijeh, Marina Sigouin, and Samuel Wang.

Senbazuru, which translates to “a thousand origami cranes,” was inspired by “origami culture,” Kuok explains.

“We want to celebrate this beautiful art in a new perspective, exploring the relationship between people who fold cranes and the cranes themselves.”

In Japan, folding one thousand origami cranes is believed to make wishes come true. The short film explores the historic Japanese tradition with a contemporary Canadian influence.

“We tried to do it in a more modern way, with a Canadian tone,” says Kuok. She and her classmates decided to portray paper cranes of varying colours in the film, representing Canada’s cultural diversity.

Kuok is one of six U of O alumni presenting films at the festival. Her project will be shown as part of “Local Heroes”, one of the festival’s screenings that features short films created by local talent.

In addition to Ottawa-based filmmakers, the festival features work by directors from the United States, Germany, Australia, and more. Rohde says that he received over 600 video submissions, and that the selected works vary in theme.

“There’s a wild variety of visual styles and genres, but by the virtue of their existence as independent films, they all celebrate the spirit of independent filmmaking.”

In this way, the festival may in fact mirror the values of Senbazuru—cultural diversity and appreciation with a modern, inclusive vibe.

“We’re all really excited for this opportunity,” says Kuok. “It’s great for us to be able to reach out and get to know other local and international filmmakers.”

While the festival hasn’t even begun yet, it seems like its goal of an inclusive celebration of independent artists is already successful. “It’s for films that are a little bit out of the ordinary or unexpected,” says Rohde. “There’s really something for everyone.”

Mirror Mountains runs from Dec. 4-6 at Club SAW, 67 Nicholas St., and the Arts Court Theatre, 2 Daly Avenue. The full itinerary can be found at http://mirrormountainfilmfest.com.