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Ryerson University has publicly apologized to the mayor of Niagara Falls, Jim Diodati, for a student film made in connection with the School of Image Arts.
The four-minute documentary questions whether the city’s image of being a glamorous tourist destination is an accurate portrayal of the realities of everyday life in Niagara Falls.
The film “As Niagara Falls” frames itself on Vimeo as “a short documentary about Niagara Falls’ image to the world, and what truly lies within the city.” The video now has over 33,000 views on Vimeo.
The short-film was created by Ryerson students Christian Bunea, Taylor Ness, Valentin Bacalu and Justin Diezmo.
The Ryerson logo was displayed at the end of the original cut of the film, in addition to Ryerson’s School of Image Arts, which has since been republished independently.
“The opinions expressed in this film by some of our junior students do not represent the opinions of Ryerson University or the School of Image Arts,” Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi wrote, according to an article written by Niagara Falls Review. “We will be asking them to remove the Ryerson University logo from their documentary.
“We do apologize for any negative feelings generated by their work,” he wrote.
Mayday Pictures, the production company of student filmmakers at Ryerson who produced the film, has responded on Facebook, writing: “‘As Niagara Falls’ is a student film intended to spark a conversation about attributes of the city that need attention. The reach and publicity following it is the true statement we aimed to portray. Many have shared the film because they stand beside the problems addressed and agree that it needed to be talked about. If this was not an issue the city was facing, then the film wouldn’t have received the attention it has.”
The post added that, “We stand by the film’s message and intent aimed for people of the city to share their opinions, experiences and input to make Niagara Falls everything they wish it was. If change and progress for the city is the outcome of this situation, then this film has done its job.”
A comment on the video written by Matthew Welke said, “The mayor’s response to the video, where he claims that it’s inaccurate because there are nice areas too, doesn’t surprise me. That kind of attitude infects the city, and the entire region there. There is a massive socioeconomic problem there and people are really struggling. But the leadership doesn’t seem interested in acknowledging it, let alone fixing it. The reaction this video got is a perfect example of why it’s so important for videos like this to be made.”
An account named “Benque Getaway,” which was created shortly before the time of this article’s publication and follows the student production company who made the film, wrote, “This is an extremely accurate depiction of Niagara Falls.”
‘Benque Getaway’ added that, “Having lived there for 10 years and managed numerous multi-million dollar projects, the city was plagued by extreme corruption.”
In the story written by arts and entertainment writer John Law at Niagara Falls Review, Mayor Diodati said that the dialogue the film has created has been useful.
“Some people are downright negative and cynical, and they probably always will be, but I do really appreciate constructive criticism,” he said.
Antonio Amodeo wrote on Vimeo that, “We should be applauding these students, their content has struck a chord with its viewers — there’s definitely a conversation to be had here. You know you’ve hit a nerve when the mayor of the city feels compelled to write a defensive response.”
In June of 2016, the city of Niagara Falls announced that they were partnering with Ryerson to try to bring post-secondary education downtown, according to Niagara Falls Review. Niagara city council hired a consultant in 2013 to study the potential of a downtown university or college.
The short-film can be watched in full here.
More to come.