Alumni

And the Oscar goes to … The Lady in Number 6!

Posted: March 5th, 2014

Bohbot Academy Award

Coms alumnus Frederic Bohbot holds Academy Award for best documentary short | Photo credit: Frederic Bohbot

As graduates of Concordia’s Department of Communication Studies, Frederic Bohbot, BA 01, was the film’s executive-producer; Kieran Crilly, BA 03, was cinematographer; while Carl Freed, BA 94 of the Department of Political Science, was editor. A graduate of the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, Luc St. Pierre, BFA 09, was composer.

“Only a decade after they finished university they won an Academy Award. This will be a real source of inspiration for students in our department,” says Rae Staseson, chair of Concordia’s Department of Communication Studies.

The film industry’s top honour was accepted at the 86th Academy Award ceremony that took place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, CA, on March 2.

The documentary is about 110-year-old pianist Alice Herz-Sommer — the oldest Holocaust survivor in the world — who passed away a week before the Oscar telecast.

“She taught everyone on my crew to be a little more optimistic and a little bit more happy about all the things in our lives.

"Seeing the film will help you live a much happier life,” said the film’s director Malcolm Clarke from the Oscar podium.

Other Oscar connections
Bohbot, Crilly, Freed and St. Pierre weren’t the only Concordians at Hollywood’s biggest night.

Yves Bélanger, BFA 84, was a cinematographer on the movie Dallas Buyers Club.

Directed by Montrealer Jean-Marc Vallée, the film was nominated for six awards including best picture. Actors Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto won for best actor and best supporting actor, respectively.

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Communication Studies Grad Wins SSHRC Award

Posted: December 17th, 2013

Kendra Besanger
Photo courtesy Kendra Besanger

Communication Studies graduate Kendra Besanger’s “Talking Through the Ages” was one of 25 winning audio, video, text and infographic entries in last year’s inaugural challenge. The pitch made by Besanger, MA (Media Studies) 2013, describes Active Ageing Mobile Technologies — an initiative led by Communication Studies professor Kim Sawchuk and based at the university’s Mobile Media Lab.

As Sawchuck says, “The research is important because it overturns and questions the assumptions we have around generational divide and media.”

This time around, the deadline for submissions is January 15, 2014. Students who proffer the top 25 pitches take home a cash prize and an all-expenses paid trip to the 2014 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Brock University in May.

When Besanger won, she flew to Victoria for the congress.

Her own graduate research project was funded by SSHRC, but she decided to focus on the Mobile Media Lab’s larger work with seniors, technology and communication, since she felt it had more impact. She also participated on a related project called MemorySpace.

“The way that Kim explained it to me — the through-line that I took — is that we talk about gender, class and race, but age is missing,” Besanger says. “That was the thesis statement of my three-minute pitch: we need to bring age into our perspective when we do critical studies.”

Her advice to applicants? “Find research that is having an impact, and keep it simple. Don’t think about it too much: just get what you need and put something together. It’s worth it.”

Research for a Better Life: The Storytellers, a new competition sponsored by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada, is currently seeking applicants.

It invites post-secondary students from across Canada to submit pitches promoting SSHRC-funded research projects at their institution. “What we’re looking for is clarity in explaining the research, creativity in the way you explain it, and persuasive stories,” says SSHRC communications advisor David Holton.

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War drama by Comm Studies alumnus takes home 10 prizes

Posted: March 7th, 2013

Kim Nguyen | All images courtesy of Métropole Films Distribution
Kim Nguyen | Image courtesy of Métropole Films Distribution

Rebelle, directed by Concordia graduate Kim Nguyen, took home 10 Canadian Screen Awards during a gala held in Toronto on March 3.

The Oscar-nominated film, also written by Nguyen, BFA (Film Production) 97, was nominated for 12 awards and won in categories that include best film, best director and best screenplay. Its teenage star, Rachel Mwanza, also won for best actress.

"I’m very touched," said Nguyen as he collected the best director prize. I’d like to dedicate this to the women in the Congo, their strength, their courage and their resilience."

In December, Nguyen told reporters via a conference call that he was overwhelmed by the reception his film has received.

Montreal-born Nguyen said he trusted his instincts in shooting the film in war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.

Award-winning producer and alumnus Pierre Even. Photo: Concordia University.
Award-winning producer and alumnus Pierre Even. |  Photo by Concordia University.

Alumnus Richard Comeau, BFA (Film Production) 87, also won an award for achievement in editing for the Rebelle film.

Alumnus Pierre Even, GrDip (Communication Studies) 90, produced the 90-minute drama. He and Nguyen worked alongside Nicolas Bolduc attendee (Film Production) 94 who was cinematographer for the feature.

Rebelle, War Witch in English, is a poignant film with an exceptional lead performance by Mwanza, a newcomer discovered on the streets of Kinshasa, the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The film tells the story of Komona (Mwanza), a 12-year-old girl who is kidnapped by African rebels, forced at gunpoint to kill her parents and fight as a child soldier.

Due to her ability to see grey ghosts in the trees that warn her of approaching enemies, she is deemed a sorceress and bestowed the title of War Witch by the supreme leader of the rebels, Great Tiger.

Rebelle premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2012, where Nguyen was the first Canadian director in 13 years to have a film selected for the main competition. Mwanza earned the best actress Silver Bear award. She also won Best Actress prize for the movie at the Tribeca film festival in New York City in April, along with the Best Narrative Film prize.

Rachel Mwanza
Rachel Mwanza

Rebelle is Nguyen’s fourth feature film. He started it 10 years ago after reading about two Burmese twin brothers who, at age nine, led an army of rebels in a fight against the government. His research, which included travelling to Burundi to interview child soldiers, led him to focus on conflicts in Angola, Sierra Leone and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Next up on the awards circuit for Rebelle is the Jutra Awards, where the film has been nominated in nine categories. The Jutra Awards, which recognize accomplishment in Quebec’s film industry, will be broadcast live on Sunday, March 17 at 7:30 p.m.

Related links:
•    Rebelle by Concordia grad nominated for Oscar” — NOW, January 10, 2013 
•    “Quebec’s C.R.A.Z.Y. film business” — NOW, March 28, 2012

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Media Gallery: American Colour

Posted: February 25th, 2013

American Colour, a two-channel film installation by artist Joshua Bonnetta, curated by Matt SoarThe Media Gallery in the Department of Communication Studies proudly presents American Colour, a two-channel film installation by artist Joshua Bonnetta, curated by Matt Soar. American Colour explores the history and aesthetic of the legendary, now obsolete, Kodachrome 16mm film stock. In part it documents a roadtrip from upstate New York (the birthplace of Kodachrome) to Kansas, home of the last Kodachrome processing facility. American Colour was itself part of the last batch ever to be developed there. The film is also a colour-field animation exploring the signature range of hues available in Kodachrome, and the soundtrack is inspired by the two violinists who invented Kodachrome in 1935.

Joshua Bonnetta received his MFA from Concordia University in 2009. The opening vernissage, with a brief artist’s talk, will be on Thursday March 7th, 5.00-6.30pm. American Colour opened on February 7th and runs until May 12, 2013 in the Media Gallery, CJ Building 1.419, at Concordia University’s Loyola campus, 7141 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal. Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday 9am-4.45pm and Friday 9am-12.45pm.

Supported by the office of the Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies, the Faculty of Arts and Science, and the Department of Communication Studies.

For additional information call 514-848-2424 ext 2555.

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Alumni nominated for Academy Award

Posted: January 22nd, 2013

Rebelle, written and directed by Concordia graduate Kim Nguyen, and produced by Communication Studies alumnus Pierre Even, has been nominated for Best Foreign-Language Film at the 85th Academy Awards.

Nguyen, overwhelmed by the reception the film has received so far, said he trusted his instincts in shooting the film in war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.

Scene from Rebelle
Scene from Rebelle | All images courtesy of Métropole Films Distribution

Pierre Even produced the 90-minute drama, which will square off against Austria’s Amour, Norway’s Kon-Tiki, Chile’s No and Denmark’s A Royal Affair.

Nguyen and Even worked alongside another Concordian, Nicolas Bolduc, who was the film’s cinematographer.

Rebelle is the third Canadian-made movie in a row to impress the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

In 2011, Monsieur Lazhar was nominated, yet the award went to A Separation from Iran. In 2010, Incendies was nominated and lost to Denmark’s In a Better World.

André Turpin, BFA 89 and fellow Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema graduate, worked as cinematographer on the critically acclaimed Incendies.

Rachel Mwanza
Rachel Mwanza

RebelleWar Witch in English — is a poignant film with an exceptional lead performance by Rachel Mwanza, a newcomer discovered on the streets of Kinshasa, the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The film tells the story of Komona (Mwanza), a 12 year-old girl who is kidnapped by African rebels, forced at gunpoint to kill her parents and fight as a child soldier.

Due to her ability to see grey ghosts in the trees that warn her of approaching enemies, she is deemed a sorceress and bestowed the title of War Witch by the supreme leader of the rebels, Great Tiger.

Rebelle premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2012, where Nguyen was the first Canadian director in 13 years to have a film selected for the main competition.

Mwanza earned the best actress Silver Bear award. She also won Best Actress prize for the movie at the Tribeca film festival in New York City in April, along with the Best Narrative Film prize.

Rebelle is Nguyen’s fourth feature film. He started it 10 years ago after reading about two Burmese twin brothers who, at age nine, led an army of rebels in a fight against the government.

His research, which included travelling to Burundi to interview child soldiers, led him to focus on conflicts in Angola, Sierra Leone and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Related links:
•    Official trailer for Rebelle
•    Concordia’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema

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Comms Alumni Win Montreal World Film Festival Award

Posted: October 3rd, 2012

Communication Studies alumni Sabrina Catalogna and Gabriela Warrior Renaud had their Film III 2011 production, Dreaming in Colour, screened at the Montreal World Film Festival 2012 this past September. Dreaming in Colour is an experimental documentary which explores the visual perception of Kim Holdbrook, a blind woman. It features the daily life and struggles of this single mother and focuses on her journey through the disability and her now positive outlook on her situation.

Their film won Best Experimental in the student division. They are both extremely happy with their accomplishments and were proud to represent Concordia University, with special thanks to the Communication Studies department and staff.

“We are both extremely happy with our accomplishments. We would like to thank the Communication Studies department and staff, without their support and education, this award would not have been presented. A special thank you to Mike Rollo for being our mentor throughout this process and for his constant motivation with the creative aspects of experimental film making. We hope this is the beginning of a successful and creative career for the both of us.”

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A Conversation with Pierre Even

Posted: March 5th, 2012

On Friday March 16th at 2:30 pm (doors open at 2:00 pm), Communication Studies will be hosting “A Conversation with Pierre Even”, another distinguished alumni (Graduate Diploma 1990) who is returning to spend some time with our students, faculty and staff.

Pierre Even is the producer of numerous critically acclaimed feature films such as C.R.A.Z.Y., Une vie qui commence, Café de Flore and Rebelle. Even’s productions have been winners of many prestigious awards and prizes, including Rebelle‘s recent win at the Berlin International Film Festival 2012 (Silver Bear Award, Best Actress for Rachel Mwanza). Even owns and works out of the Montréal production company, Item 7.

Our ‘conversation’ with Pierre Even will be facilitated by another distinguished alumni, Brendan Kelly, CBC Radio and The Gazette. This event takes place in CJ 1.114 and there will be a reception in Pierre Even’s honour, in the Atrium, immediately following the ‘conversation’.

We are very excited about Pierre’s visit and urge you to join us in ‘conversation’.

A Conversation with Pierre Even

Friday, March 16, 2012 at 2:30 PM

Loyola Campus
Communication and Journalism – CJ Building,
CJ 1.114
7141 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, Quebec

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Media Gallery Opens New Exhibition – Feb 10 to April 13

Posted: January 30th, 2012

Fanciful: Small Media MomentsThe Media Gallery in the Department of Communication Studies
proudly presents the exhibition

Fanciful: Small Media Moments

curated by Kim Sawchuk and Rae Staseson

Featuring the work of Margaret Murphy, Emily Pelstring, Kelly Thompson and Karen Trask, this exhibition plays with our notion of scale and challenges us to reconsider intimacy, domestic display and the role of whimsy in communication.

The artists all use a combination of old technologies in conjunction with new media, in highly unique ways, to create surprising connections.

February 10th – April 13th, 2012
Media Gallery
CJ Building 1.419
Concordia University’s Loyola campus
7141 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal

Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday 9:00 – 4:45pm and Friday 9:00 – 12:45pm

For additional information please call Rae Staseson at 514-848-2424 x2535 or x2555.

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Guest Lecture: Postimage

Posted: March 2nd, 2010

Alumni Salvatore Barrera and Sara Morley visit Liz Miller’s intermediate video production class and share invaluable advice on titles, producing, and working with designers.

Postimage gives presentation to video class

insets: Salvatore and Sara while students at Concordia, circa 1990 – click to enlarge

Salvatore Barrera, B.A. Communications Studies 1992, is a Video / Multimedia Producer and Motion Graphics Designer at University Communications Services, Concordia University. Former director at Design Postimage and one of its founding members, creating intro sequences and motion design for feature films, documentaries, television productions, live presentations and the web. He has over 15 years experience in Montreal’s film and video industry. Partner and producer at Productions Jeux d’Ombres for nine years from it’s inception in 1994, Salvatore’s feature productions include: Zigrail (1995), André Turpin’s first feature film; Burnt Eden (1997), winner of the Telefilm Canada People’s Choice Award at the Montreal Festival of New Cinema (FNC); Méchant Party (2001); and A Project of the People (1996), a documentary about community development in the Windward Islands. In 1992, his first music video clip for Dédé Traké won Best Independent Music Video Clip from Musique Plus. In the early nineties, Salvatore was systems administrator at Concordia University’s multimedia lab, MITE AVISTA, and a technician at the AV Sound Studios. Presently, he is a video producer and motion designer for Concordia’s Marketing Communications.

Sara Morley, B.F.A. (Studio Art), is Design Postimage’s creative director and a founding member. She has over 20 years experience in design for print, multimedia, documentary and web production, working extensively in the educational and non-profit sectors, as well as for the film and television industry—designing titles and print campaigns for many of Quebec’s acclaimed feature films. Partner at Productions Jeux d’Ombres for eight years, Sara produced A Project of the People (1996), a documentary about sustainable development in the Eastern Caribbean. She also directed Oh Mother! (1998), a documentary that aired on the WTN Lifestyle Network and was featured at the 1998 Montreal Festival of New Cinema (FNC). Sara directed A Day in the Life of an Engineer, multimedia web portraits that present a typical day in the lives of five Aboriginal engineers from across Canada. The feature received the Canadian Education Association Achievement Award for 2005. She also designed the Quebec Film and Television Council’s online location photo gallery, which received a silver Horizon Interactive Award for interactive design. In 2007, Sara co–curated Katja MacLeod Kessin’s memorial retrospective at Concordia University’s FOFA Gallery. Recently, she has created proposal documents for the Cirque du Soleil and designed a 280-page architectural book featuring Bell Canada’s new global headquarters on Nuns’ Island. Sara is currently in postproduction on her feature-length documentary Tea with Nell

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Coms Alumni Win $45,000 from NFB, TVO

Posted: February 4th, 2010

Two winning documentary pitches will go from the concept stage to television and web broadcast thanks to a $45,000 cash prize for each from the National Film Board and TVOntario, which on Monday unveiled the winners of the Calling Card Program.

Aaron Hancox and Allie Caldwell‘s 30-minute doc Unheralded will be developed for broadcast on TVO’s flagship doc series The View From Here, while Shahid Quadri and Alex Jansen’s new media project The Next Day will be created and launched on both nfb.ca and tvo.org. Both projects will debut during the 2010/11 season.

For the full story please visit:
http://cnw.ca/en/releases/archive/February2010/01/c5637.html

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2009 Gemini Award Winner Robert Swartz

Posted: October 20th, 2009

robert-swartz-gemini2009Communication Studies alumnus Robert Swartz won the 2009 Gemini Award for best picture editing for the film The Young Romantic. Robert Swartz graduated in 1998, and made his first short documentary Struck While The Iron Was Hot in 1999, which was well received at both the Vancouver International Film festival and the Montreal World Film Festival. He went on to become a picture editor in Toronto and studied at the Canadian Film Centre in 2003. Since then he has edited many documentaries and dramatic films, producing and directing Provider in 2004, a documentary portrait of his father. Provider aired on BRAVO! Television in Canada, and screened at film festivals in Europe, Israel and Canada. His latest film Cab 138 takes a unique look into Torontos troubled taxi scene, and has recently been nominated for a Golden Sheaf award at the 2009 Yorkton Short Film Festival.

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Guest Speaker Series: A Talk with Kevin Tierney

Posted: September 29th, 2009

Kevin TierneyKevin Tierney, Communication Studies alumnus and producer and co-writer of the 2006 hit movie Bon Cop Bad Cop, returned to his alma mater September 29 to speak to about 85 students, staff and faculty members and announce a gift in honour of his parents.

The talk called A Conversation with Kevin Tierney was the latest in the Department of Communication Studies’ Distinguished Alumni Series that was held at the Communication Studies and Journalism Building on the Loyola Campus. Tierney animatedly discussed his lengthy and successful career as a film and television producer.

He also announced a $10,000 gift to Concordia to create the Pat and Bill Tierney Scholarship, named after his parents. Last month, Tierney earned the Canadian Film and Television Production Association’s Producer of the Year Award at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). He said he decided to donate the prize money to create an entrance scholarship for Communication Studies’ Graduate Diploma Program students.

Kevin Tierney explained that he made the gift to Concordia in his parents’ names to recognize their influence on his life and career. “My parents made sacrifices to enable me to go to university as an undergraduate, and I want to honour them and their belief, one I happen to share, that education improves the quality of life,” Tierney said.

“Donating the TIFF prize seems particularly apropos as I received it for producing a film written and directed by my son, Jacob, who was conceived while I was a student in Communication Studies … You can just say that in my pre-dotage, I am big into ancestor worship.”

Tierney’s many production credits include Bon Cop Bad Cop, the highest grossing Canadian movie in domestic box-office history, and The Trotsky, which was directed by his son, Jacob, and premiered in September at the TIFF. Jacob, who was in the audience at the Concordia event, joined his father onstage during the question-and-answer period.

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Peter Lenkov Visit

Posted: November 7th, 2008

Peter M. Lenkov visit was a Big Success!


Communication Studies welcomed former student, Peter M. Lenkov for a day of workshops and visits.
Peter M. Lenkov is the Executive producer of CSI: NY, as well as a producer and writer of several other film and televison projects.

Mr. Lenkov spent time with scriptwriting students discussing the craft and was ‘in conversation’ with CTV Montreal news anchor Todd Van Der Heyden, also alumni, with over 70 students. Mr. Lenkov discussed his break in to the business, the process of writing and idea development, and the demands of his position as a head writer and executive producer of a highly successful television series.

Students and guests also took part in a question and answer session with Mr. Lenkov which was immediatley followed by a reception in the CJ Atrium.

Thank you Peter!

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Barry Julien Wins Emmy Award

Posted: September 22nd, 2008

barry_julien2Barry Julien, BA (comm. studies) 94, won an Emmy award September 21, 2008, as a member of the writing team for The Colbert Report, broadcast on Comedy Central and CTV. Barry won the Emmy in the category of Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program. He joined The Colbert Report as a writer in 2007. Barry had previously been a stand-up comedian and written for CBC TV’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes , YTV’s Mystery Hunters and Fox TV’s Talkshow with Mike Fersten.

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René Balcer Awarded Honorary PhD

Posted: September 1st, 2008

balcerRené Balcer, BA (comm. studies) 78, received an honorary doctorate on November 17 during Convocation ceremonies held at Montreal’s Place des Arts. René began his career as a cameraman, journalist and documentary filmmaker.

In 1990, he joined the staff of the American television series Law & Order during its first season. In 1996, he became its executive producer and head writer. In 1997, the show won its first Emmy Award for Best Drama Series. In 2001, René became executive producer for Law & Order: Criminal Intent , which he had helped to develop. In 2007, he returned to Law & Order as its executive producer. René has won many industry awards and, in 2004, the Concordia University Alumni Association honoured him as its Alumnus of the Year 1993.

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