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Stephanie Proulx, Living Skies Student Film Festival coordinator and student filmmaker, has a list of tasks to complete before the festival kicks off on March 3 at the U of R's Shu-Box theatre. Photo by Jessie Anton.

It’s that time of year again; University of Regina film students are busy bustling around in preparation for their main feature: The 28th Living Skies Student Film Festival. However, before the popcorn pops and the lights gently dim, there is a laundry list of duties to complete in order for the first opening credits to roll.

Since 1988, organizing an annual student film festival has been a tradition for U of R film students and, in 2012, it was re-named the Living Skies Student Film Festival. For years, the festival has been showcasing local, national and international student films, bringing together filmmakers from across the globe via their love for the art.

“It’s amazing to see how many filmmakers are out there and to be able to hear their stories and see their techniques and see what they do—it’s just a really cool thing,” said Stephanie Proulx, festival coordinator and student filmmaker.

This year, after posting the local festival submission requirements on FilmFreeway (an online hub for helping filmmakers publish their work worldwide) the festival gained global interest, welcoming 1,700 submissions from over 70 countries—a far cry from the 67 submissions they received the year before.

Although there is great excitement over the international submissions, Proulx said local films are what bring people out, so the goal this year is to showcase the local student talent.

“Like always, there will be a specific amount of U of R films at the festival because we want to showcase the talent that we have in the community and get people to come out to see what’s being produced here in Regina,” said Proulx. 

To make the final cut, a 15-minute-and-under film must be adjudicated by four judges who are respected members in the Canadian film industry. They evaluate each piece based on creativity, technical, story and overall impact within the four categories: documentary, animation, experimental and fiction.

“Ten out of 21 films made the cut this year out of the U of R,” said Proulx. “And, at first, I wasn’t sure if (my film, Left Hanging) would make it through the judges into the screenings, but it did really well.”

Like Proulx, film student Kolbie Nesset was among the lucky 10 filmmakers to have a film projected at the March 3-5 film festival.

When she found out her film, Stigma, was not only selected, but would also open the festival, Nesset jumped up and down with joy.

“Having my film selected was just an affirmation that I’m going in the right direction and my hard work is paying off,” said Nesset. “It was really rewarding.”

Being in Proulx’s shoes last year as a festival coordinator who helps screen the outside submissions before the event, Nesset adores now being on the flipside. 

“I’m really excited that people feel the same way about my work as I once did about others,” explained Nesset. “I think I’d like to be on this side a little more often.”

The Living Skies Student Film Festival is taking place in a province that cut its film tax credit in 2012. Nesset hopes the festival will shine a light on how important the film industry is in Saskatchewan.

“I think that it’s amazing to see so many U of R films in the festival this year because we really are pumping out a lot of talent and I think that in the future we will all realize how important it is to Saskatchewan and how important it is to our economy and to our industry,” said Nesset. 

As for Proulx, she feels as though the Living Skies Student Film Festival benefits the local film community and fresh filmmakers alike.

“I think because Regina is so small (the festival) brings people together. It shows local established artists the emerging local artists who are just breaking out, and it merges that gap between established and emerging artists, creating common ground and giving students connections for potential employers,” explained Proulx. “I could potentially be working with these people one day, and that’s just what this festival does.”