Airdrie student wins big at International Film Festival
Local teen Kelsi Jones had no idea of the honour she was about to get when she attended a screening of her short film at the Calgary International Film Festival on Sept. 22.
“I didn’t believe it at first,” the 17-year-old said when it was announced at the event she has won the Calgary International Film Festival Youth by Youth Cinema Best Local Live Action Award.
“It was crazy. I didn’t expect (to win) at all because there were so many good films,” she said.
Jones made the film during the course of a semester for her Digital Arts class last year at W.G. Murdoch High School in Crossfield. The teen now lives in Airdrie but opted to continue her high school career at W.G. Murdoch when her family moved from Crossfield.
She got the idea for the film while listening to the song Thief by Her Name is Calla, which is also played throughout the silent movie. She said while she listened to the song, she could see the movie she wanted to create in her mind.
“It’s really hard to explain (what the film is about) because you can sort of interpret it any way you want,” she said.
“It’s really about depression and mental illness. I tried to make it metaphorical and surreal so there is no real storyline to it.”
She said though the film has some personal connection to her, it is mostly taken from other people’s experiences.
“It’s an interesting topic of what goes through people’s minds and what can trigger this sort of emotion. I tried to put that in the film.”
Jones said there are metaphors throughout the movie but one of the biggest ones is a pocket watch necklace that the only character in the film wears.
“It represents her life,” she said, adding when the clock stops it indicates the character’s death.
Another metaphor used is the film’s decided lack of colour.
“The entire film is in black and white until the end scene after (the character’s) death, which I put in very vibrant colours to represent a rebirth,” she said.
The student not only wrote and directed the film, she also starred in it, though she said she prefers working behind the camera and wants to pursue a career in writing or directing.
She said she has made other films before but this is the first one she did entirely on her own and the first one she’s entered into such a big competition.
“I like it but I didn’t think it was good enough,” she said of her film.
Clearly the panel of judges for the festival did.
When Jones and her family went to the screening at Calgary’s Eau Claire Market Mall, she said she was excited when a limo drove them to the location and said that excitement only increased when she got the red carpet treatment upon arrival.
“There was a red carpet and you could stop and your family could take pictures of you.”
She said when it was announced she had won, her family was overcome with emotion and were crying.
“My parents were really, really, really happy,” she said. “The whole experience itself was really good.”
Jones received a plaque for her win, which was presented to her by Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
Jones said she will continue to make films starting with one for her Digital Art class next semester. She hasn’t decided on a topic yet but said she will likely continue to explore surrealism and metaphors.
The student said she’s not sure what she will do with her award-winning film as of yet, but might put it up on YouTube.