Award-winning short filmmaker Mark Pariselli’s work delves into themes of sexuality, identity and acceptance with an often darkly humorous lens and on Thursday, Humber’s North Space Gallery honored him with the official opening of a retrospective.
As part of Prismatic Intersection, Humber’s LGBTQ+ celebration and art exhibit in partnership with the Gender and Sexual Diversity Committee, Pariselli’s short films will be screened followed by an informal Q&A featuring him and Humber Creative Photography alumni Adam Moco, the exhibit’s curator.
The filmmaker’s experimental piece, Kiss, has also been projected throughout the gallery’s photography exhibit which began last week.
Ashley Watson, curator of Humber Galleries and Collections, told Humber News that curating the exhibit was a collaborative process between herself, Moco, and the diversity committee with a common goal of “bringing a wider knowledge of LGBTQ.”
“It’s not the whole spectrum but it is a start to talking about things that are LGBTQ but also more universal, like body image,” said Watson of Prismatic Intersection which includes work from three artists including Moco and Pariselli.
“And Mark’s talking about laws around gender and sexuality” she said.
Pariselli told Humber News that his path toward filmmaking was a natural progression and seemed like the best way to blend his artistic interests.
“I wasn’t the kid that picked up his mother or father’s camera and began making short films at a really young age,” said Pariselli.
“But I was an avid reader as a child, reading beyond the recommended reading level and was always drawn to storytelling. I also found myself directing games on the playground with other kids, imagining scenarios for us and creating characters and story lines. I also became interested in music and photography.”
After high school, the Toronto-based artist went on to graduate magna cum laude with a BFA Honours in Film Production from York University. He hit the international film scene almost immediately, taking part in prominent international LBGTQ film festivals across the globe.
His dialogue-free debut short film After screened at more than 40 international film festivals including Toronto’s 2009 Inside Out LGBT Film Festival, where Pariselli received Honourable Mention for the Best Up-and-Coming Toronto Film or Video Maker Award.
After was also shortlisted for the Iris Prize that same year and won the Best Short Film Award at the 2011 Sicilia Queer Film Festival in Italy.
Pariselli said he feels fortunate to have been supported by Inside Out throughout his career and embraces the opportunity to show this work globally, even if there are some nerves that parts of the work might not translate.
“It’s always an interesting experience screening your work in a foreign country where English isn’t the main spoken language. Sometimes your film has been subtitled and I worry that some of the humour or other elements won’t translate,” said Pariselli.
In 2012, Mark was chosen to attend the Berlinale Talent Campus at the Berlin Film Festival. He also attended the Sicilia Queer Film Festival as a member of the International Jury. In 2014, he served as a member of the Short Film Jury for ImageOut: The Rochester LGBT Film & Video Festival.
Pariselli’s other internationally acclaimed short films include the experimental works Kiss and Pigeon Hole and the narrative dramas Frozen Roads, Severed, and Monster Mash.
Pariselli’s most recent short, Necromantic,” a Tim Burtonesque, stop motion, Gothic piece” that involved working with Ken dolls and maggots in home-built, doll house sets is no exception, calling it a “new and challenging experience.”
Pariselli also recently tried his hand at a different kind of artistic endeavor, directing his first music video for the Toronto-based band, Light Fires. Calling it a fun and exciting experience, Pariselli said he drew inspiration from one of his artistic heroes, Andy Warhol – specifically his Screen Tests.
“Half of the project was shot on film which is always nerve racking when you have become used to working with digital and video playback, but it turned out beautifully,” Pariselli added.
Pariselli names Gregg Araki, Stanley Kubrick, Lynne Ramsay, Ingmar Bergman, and Michelangelo Antonioni as inspirations for their “fearlessness and creativity” and said he focuses on telling a story visually in his own work.
“In my own work, I like to focus on visual storytelling rather than relying heavily on dialogue so I draw inspiration from photography and music videos as well,” said Pariselli.
Next, the filmmaker has his sights set on completing his first feature length film which is currently in the development stage.
“I’m challenging myself to write something that is small in scale and cast – two characters in one location. It is shaping up to be part horror/part dark relationship drama,” said Pariselli.
“Staring at that blank computer screen is always intimidating, but expanding the scope of the storytelling (from short to feature length) is exciting.
While Pariselli said that while he wishes he’d tried feature filmmaking sooner, short films have allowed him to harness his vision and find his voice.
“Working with shorts is great for developing your voice, strengthening your storytelling skills, experimenting and exploring!”