Category Archives: Films

2021 Festival Awards

Our fourth annual festival was held last month, virtually once again across Canada. I’m so grateful to our staff, volunteers, audience, and especially to our filmmakers, and I want to recognize those films awarded by our juries and audience. Thank you to all our jury members for their hard work and for lending us their expertise. Congratulations to these filmmakers but also to all the rest of the filmmakers who allowed us to share their work during the festival. Toronto Canada enjoyed watching your films and we can’t wait to see what you’re working on next!

Award Winners 2021

Best Narrative Short


Dir: Tomasz Wolski

Jury statement: “The jury was really impressed by the film’s skilful execution, authentic performances, and ability to bring something fresh to the single-take format by emphasizing the interwoven nature of our lives. By bookending the narrative with a child’s innocent view of these events, the film generates unexpected layers of complexity. It sparks audience conversations by shining a light on how thes characters are wrapped up in their own perspectives and unable to acknowledge what connects them.”

Best Documentary Short

Since You Arrived My Heart Stopped Belonging To Me

Since You Arrived My Heart Stopped Belonging To Me
Dir: Erin Semine Kökdil

Jury statement: “The jury’s decision for the winning film is testament to Mothers’ enduring love as well as their unwavering and unselfish strength. Emotional and heartbreaking, this documentary gives insight into Latin America’s socio-political corridors that have ramifications for families of the most vulnerable.”

Special Mention Joe Buffalo
Dir: Amar Chebib

Jury statement: “The documentary that the jury unanimously feels exemplifies Gandhi’s axiom of being the change one wants to see in society. Topical and heartwarming all at once, it speaks of not just overcoming your personal traumas, but being a beacon of learning and self preservation for future generations.”

Best Animated Short

Love Is Just A Death Away

Love Is Just A Death Away
Dir: Bára Anna Stejskalová

Jury statement: “For being so unique and innovative and imaginative, and also gross, but beautiful at the same time. We’re so excited to see what this filmmaker does next.”

Special Mention: To The Last Drop
Dir: Simon Schnellman

Jury statement: “For telling such a deep and powerful story in such a simple and entertaining way.”

Best Canadian Short

Joe Buffalo

Joe Buffalo
Dir: Amar Chebib

Festival Director statement: “This award is given in memory of Anthony Turk McCourt. Tony was a close family friend of mine while I was growing up, and I’m pleased to have his memory associated with excellence in Canadian filmmaking. Joe Buffalo is a devastating but hopeful portrait of an indigenous man who suffered through the trauma of the residential school system, but who emerged from years of addiction and homelessness through his dedication to skateboarding and the community he found there.”

Audience Award


Dir: Pablo de la Chica

Festival Director statement: “This wonderful film shines a light on the work of the brave and compassionate Mama Zawaldi and her colleagues at the Lwiro Primates Rehabilitation Centre in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her loving and tireless service helping baby chimpanzees recover from trauma made a strong impression on all of us who saw the film.”

Full 2021 Lineup Revealed

Here’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. I’m delighted to share the full lineup for our 2021 (virtual) festival, which will be screened online all across Canada from November 19-28 on the Eventive Virtual platform. Thanks are in order to our amazing programming team: Linda Taillon, Keith Klegman, Cameron Carpenter, Amanda Clarke, Diana Sernick, Shelagh Rowan-Legg, Isabel Cupryn, Caterina Micci, KJ Tommy, Ariane Molinatti, Sylvia Zhang, Iris Bagola, Carolyn Dunk, Kyle McCarthy, Brennan Tilley, Hillary Butler, Romina Garcia, Alessandro Romano, and Alan McLane. I couldn’t have done it without your help!

Tickets and passes are on sale now, and you can also see the schedule and the film guide at our festival mini-site. Hope you’ll join us in November!

70 films from 33 countries. Narrative films (43), documentaries (14), and animated films (13); something for everyone. Some other facts: 15 Canadian films, 34 films directed by women, 11 student films.

2021 Festival Poster (Red/Blue)

1-800-D-DIRECT (UK, 11 minutes)
Dir: Clare Macdonald

Joyce and Frances work at 1-800-D-Direct, the latest and greatest dishwasher sales company in 1960s Manhattan. But when a customer is given the wrong data, the women must navigate her out of a life or death situation.

2019 (France, 3 minutes)
Dir: Julie Boutteville

“Imagination is what tends to become real.” – André Breton

AL-SIT (Sudan, 20 minutes)
Dir: Suzannah Mirghani

In a cotton-farming village in Sudan, 15-year-old Nafisa has a crush on Babiker, but her parents have arranged her marriage to Nadir, a young Sudanese businessman living abroad. Nafisa’s grandmother Al-Sit, the powerful village matriarch, has her own plans for Nafisa’s future. But can Nafisa choose for herself?

AMISSA ANIMA (Australia, 15 minutes)
Dir: Tatiana Doroshenko

Four boys survive on the night streets of St Kilda in the 1980s, turning tricks for a feed and drugs. The fragile balance is broken when an act of betrayal pushes them to perform an unspeakable act. Based on true events.

APOSTASY, OR UNTITLED FILM #1 (Brazil, 10 minutes)
Dir: Marcelo Mattina

Dante, a young man who has just lost his father, tries to convince his friend Angela that they are both characters in a movie and that his Dad’s funeral is nothing more than a cinematic fabrication.

ARABACCIU (France, 20 minutes)
Dir: Alexandre Oppecini

One night, in a bar in Corsica, Stella drowns her loneliness in red wine. She helps Hakim, young Moroccan immigrant worker accused of stealing a phone. An unexpected and poetic encounter, getting her out of her difficult reality.

ARKA (Croatia, 15 minutes)
Dir: Natko Stipanicev

A grandiose transoceanic cruise ship sailing the seas.

BABLINGA (Burkina Faso/France, 15 minutes)
Dir: Fabien Dao

Moktar always said that when he shuts his bar Bablinga down, he will return to Burkina. The day has arrived, but he’s not really ready to leave. Despite himself, ghosts invite themselves to celebrate a last evening.

BAD SEEDS (MAUVAISES HERBES) (Canada, 6 minutes)
Dir: Claude Cloutier

Bad Seeds takes us to a bizarre world populated by carnivorous plants that can change shapes the way a chameleon changes colours. The veteran director of Carface deftly connects growth with rivalry and evolution with competition, crafting an increasingly shocking duel that’s peppered with allusions to the western, the Cold War, board games, and much more.

Dir: Michael Basta

Bernard checks himself into a motel for yet another one of his business trips. When he accidentally stumbles into the wrong motel room, he meets a couple with a mischievous proposition. What at first seems enticing soon becomes fraught with tension as simmering conflicts between the lovers flare up, leaving Bernard to play unwitting mediator to their messy drama.

Dir: Henning Backhaus

Ingbert, the sock, applies for a position as double bass player at the Vienna State Orchestra. Bad idea.

THE BEYOND (L’AU-DELÀ) (Switzerland, 10 minutes)
Dir: Daniel Maurer

The second wave of Covid significantly increased mortality in hospitals. What does this mean for the work of Mathieu, employed in the morgue of a regional hospital center? How does he relate to these people whose souls have recently left their bodies?

THE BLACK VEIL (Qatar, 17 minutes)
Dir: A.J. Al-Thani

Reem, a young Iraqi woman, escapes her home in the middle of the night. She lives in Mosul after being forced to marry an ISIS soldier. Reem finds help in a taxi driver named Ahmed to help her escape Mosul and find her family again.

BLUE BISON (USA, 18 minutes)
Dirs: Camrus Johnson, Stefano Pennisi

A group of vigilantes abducts wrongdoers and coerces them into confessions, forcing them back on the straight and narrow. Tonight their attempt at justice has unexpected consequences.

BRIDGING THE GAP (UK, 7 minutes)
Dirs: Nina Ross, Meg Barrett

Age 18 Meg started hearing a voice. She tried ignoring it, didn’t tell a soul, yet the voice grew. More abusive, more delusional and often completely out of her control. Eventually, her paranoia wore her down. She experienced “an explosion of mental health,” followed by years of medical intervention and institutions.

Bridging the Gap offers a snapshot of Meg’s world as she grapples with the boundaries between her internal delusions and her everyday life. This film will challenge your perspective on hearing voices, open your eyes on medicalization, and beg the question “what even is reality?”

THE BRIGHT FIRE (China, 15 minutes)
Dir: Zoe Zou

Two young cousins find a wonderland outside of their unstable families, without knowing the friendship they have will eventually come to an end.

DON’T BE SUCH A WUSS (FAIS PA TA VICTIME) (France, 14 minutes)
Dir: Julian Sarica Polo

Hugo is a frail young boy who is being harrassed by a gang of older teenagers. On the first day of school vacation, one of his bullies shows up at his house unannounced.

ELECTRIC BODIES (France, 15 minutes)
Dir: Antoine Janot

In a future where human memory is recorded on cards and biomechanical bodies are replaced by biological ones, anyone can change appearance following their mood, as long as they can afford it. But people who can not continue to rent their expensive bodies are forced to abandon them. This is what threatens Emma Beaufort.

EMPTY SEATS (Germany, 3 minutes)
Dir: Anne Rietmeijer

An empty seat in an empty theatre decides to go and search for people.

EXCLUDED BY DESIGN (Canada, 4 minutes)
Dirs: Simon Madore, Gabriel Tougas

Writer and community organizer Dave Meslin thinks that bad public notices are hurting our democracy – and he’s calling on graphic designers to show us what we’re missing.

The film was produced by Hot Docs through the Citizen Minutes initiative.

FALL OF THE IBIS KING (Ireland, 10 minutes)
Dirs: Mikai Geronimo, Josh O’Caoimh

The antagonist of a dark opera becomes increasingly unsettled following the unlikely return of the former lead actor.

FORGET ME NOT (USA, 7 minutes)
Dirs: Courtney LeBlanc, Saige Guevara

In an attempt to preserve her legacy, a cartoon classic wages war on her rebooted counterpart.

GET OUT OF MY HEAD (Canada, 11 minutes)
Dir: Pamela Fuller

A short film about a girl who needs to learn that in order to be understood and truly liked she needs to “get out of her head” and be herself.

THE HANDYMAN (Australia, 15 minutes)
Dir: Nicholas Clifford

Alone at her country estate, Evelyn attempts to end her life but is interrupted by the arrival of an awkward but endearing handyman. Evelyn’s desire to make him leave collides with his need of a job and Evelyn discovers the Handyman has problems of his own.

HIT THE ROAD, EGG! (Germany, 1 minute)
Dir: Sabine Redlich

What happens after ovulation? I mean, really! This animated short invites you to see the journey of an ovum in a rather fantastic way.

HOME (Netherlands, 13 minutes)
Dir: Guust Mulder

A black comedy about Dirk, a man who buys gadgets to fill his boring life. On a typical evening, he finds out that the relationship of trust with his AI devices is not as reliable as he thought. Can he fix his worsening situation? Or has he already exposed too much of himself to his devices?

HOMEBIRD (UK, 10 minutes)
Dir: Ewa Smyk

Struggling to make it in a big city, a young artist finds herself retreating into the rose-tinted memories of the village she left behind.

HOMESTEAD (Canada, 9 minutes)
Dir: DC Dzoja

A man looks back on his life in an intimate interview with his granddaughter.

HOUSE OF FORTUNE (Iran, 16 minutes)
Dir: Adel Mashoori

Rahil Mohajer was buried alive by her husband and her father on her wedding night because they thought she wasn’t a virgin.

HYPERSTITION (France, 6 minutes)
Dir: Stéphane Chis, Maxime Chuchana

Two superstitious people, two parallel lives and a strange day where one’s little games have the power to change fate. What if it was enough to walk on the tiles without touching the lines to make our wishes come true?

I AM AFRAID TO FORGET YOUR FACE (Egypt/France, 15 minutes)
Dir: Sameh Alaa

After being separated for 82 days, Adam travels down a rough road to be reunited with the one he loves, whatever it takes.

J’AI LE CAFARD (Kuwait, 14 minutes)
Dir: Maysaa Almumin

A woman in a downhearted mood struggles to keep up appearances in front of her chirpy and driven office colleagues. An encounter with a dying cockroach in the office toilet develops into an absurd friendship, becoming the comforting companionship she needs until she realizes its destructive effects on her life.

JOE BUFFALO (Canada, 16 minutes)
Dir: Amar Chebib

Joe Buffalo is an Indigenous skateboard legend. He’s also a survivor of Canada’s notorious Indian Residential School system. Following a traumatic childhood and decades of addiction, Joe must face his inner demons to realize his dream of turning pro.

Dir: David Le Meur

In his small cinema full of posters of X-rated movies and 35mm reels from the 1970s to the 2000s, Maurice Laroche evolves like a guardian from another time. The “Beverley,” the last pornographic cinema in Paris, will definitely close its doors. It’s an opportunity for Maurice to get lost in his memories, to think about his customers he has known for forty years, and finally to prepare for the fateful moment.

Dir: Annie St-Pierre

December 24, 1983, 10:50PM; Julie and her cousins have eaten too much sugar, Santa Claus is late and Denis, alone in his car, is anxious at the idea of setting foot in his ex-in-law’s house to pick up his children. The film is an early coming-of-age that is as awkward as it is poetic.

THE LITTLE DEATH (Canada, 12 minutes)
Dir: Antoine Rail

Leo goes out on a date not knowing that he is walking directly into a trap.

THE LOAD (IL FAGOTTO) (Italy, 15 minutes)
Dir: Giulia Giapponesi

The low birth rate is making one town disappear. The government is imposing measures, and not just psychological ones. Females who don’t contribute to the demographic future of the country are seen as a problem to resolve, thus every year they are called to declare to a government office the reason why they haven’t had any babies in the last twelve months. In an out of time world, that reminds us more with every passing day, Bianca and Vittoria are at the opposite ends of their fertility time. Their acquaintance forces them to choose in an instant the direction of their future: any choice will result in a radical change of their destiny.

LONG DISTANCE (Israel, 20 minutes)
Dir: Or Sinai

Rachel is losing her sight to the point she can’t even manage doing the smallest daily functions, like dialing the phone. She opens her door to passing strangers, on a tiny but significant journey, to reach out to her daughter, on the other side of the world.

LOVE IS JUST A DEATH AWAY (Czech Republic, 12 minutes)
Dir: Bára Anna Stejskalová

A tender story about finding love even amid utter decay.

MAMA (Spain, 30 minutes)
Dir: Pablo de la Chica

At the the Lwiro Primates Rehabilitation Centre (CRPL) in the Democratic Republic of Congo for traumatized baby chimpanzees, Mama Zawaldi embodies the healing power of love. “The bond of love is key to everything,” Mama Zawaldi insists, in this hauntingly beautiful landscape with its shadow of horror.

MAMA (Canada, 10 minutes)
Dir: John Edwards

A mother and son struggle to survive in a vast wilderness, exploring the divine connection between motherhood and Mother Earth.

A Spanish language short film, starring a real life mother and son, written and directed by their husband and father. Filmed off the coast of Vancouver Island, Canada. Created by Canadian, Colombian and Maltese filmmakers.

MOON (LUNE) (Canada, 15 minutes)
Dir: Zoé Pelchat

Babz Dubreuil, a lonely ex-convict, works as a cook in a brunch restaurant. Encouraged by a colleague, she asks an attractive customer on a date. It might be the beginning of redemption.

MUSTACHIO (SNORRIE) (Netherlands, 12 minutes)
Dir: Victoria Warmerdam

An absurd tragicomedy about thirty-something Freek, who is reuniting with his imaginary friend from the past, who is looking for closure.

MY MOTHER’S GIRLFRIEND (India, 15 minutes)
Dir: Arun Fulara

Renuka and Sadiya, two working-class women in love with each other, enjoy their day out celebrating Renuka’s birthday. After a fun-filled day, they head home to spend the night together. But unknown to them, Renuka’s son, Mangesh, is around.

Dir: Nina Doré

In an orphanage lost in the middle of the mountains, little girls have never known the outside world. Anna, a ten-year-old girl, wants to be free.

PAIN (New Zealand, 9 minutes)
Dir: Anna Rose Duckworth

A young girl has an earth-shattering realization that her father is not invincible, after a cricket accident exposes his vulnerability.

PERSONALS (Canada, 13 minutes)
Dir: Sasha Argirov

When an encounter at a glory hole sparks an unexpected connection, two socially anxious loners must risk vulnerability to find the intimacy they yearn for.

PIMENTO! (USA, 6 minutes)
Dir: Caleb Carl Nelson

Pimento! follows a tiny goblin’s misadventures as she’s sent out on a special errand: stealing from the sprawling human-populated metropolis Ballyhoo! Only time will tell if she’s enough of a monster to commit heinous crimes, or if her moral compass will stand in her way!

THE PIRANHAS (LAS PIRAÑAS) (Colombia, 14 minutes)
Dir: Anderson Ascanio

Juan Pablo (16) lives with a dysfunctional family feeling very distant from them. His parents work in a weird business for which he must deliver packages. Richard, his sister’s boyfriend, invites him to join a garage band that Juan Pablo cannot stand anymore, so he decides to run away.

THE PRATT IN THE HAT (USA, 15 minutes)
Dir: Susan Hillary

Beneath the brims of hundreds of colourful hats is a woman who shares her wisdom, humour, and personal experiences about being black in America, then and now. Frances Pratt’s hats make a bold statement as do her Southern charm and pithy expressions which she gathered from a lifetime of service to her community fighting for racial equality, voting rights and education.

PROBLEM (Poland, 15 minutes)
Dir: Tomasz Wolski

A seemingly normal afternoon in the city gets disrupted as passers-by are temporarily unhinged from their daily business. A man lying on the pavement becomes a problem not only for the local tenants, but also medical services and the police.

REMANENT (RÉMANENTE) (Canada, 10 minutes)
Dir: Alexandre Mullen

After environmental collapse confines people indoors, survivors cling on to the past through a digital recreation of the cities of yesterday. Every day, Zack chases the same elusive jogger, a programmed background character modeled after a woman he used to know.

ROBERTO (Spain, 9 minutes)
Dir: Carmen Córdoba González

Fifteen years have passed and Roberto is still in love with his neighbour, but she prefers to hide, ashamed of her body. With his art and an old clothesline as the only means of communication, Roberto has a plan to push his beloved to face her monsters at last.

ROSA (Canada, 19 minutes)
Dirs: Jean-Michel Gervais, Gabriel J. Lemay

After being touched by a patient’s story, a psychiatrist learns the hard way that appearances are sometimes deceptive.

SCARS (Canada, 10 minutes)
Dir: Alex Anna

Alex Anna’s body is a canvas : her scars come to life to tell a new story of self-harming. Live action and animation intertwine in this short and poetic documentary, both intimate and universal.

THE SCHOOL BELL (Canada, 4 minutes)
Dir: Delaram Majdzadeh

Based on a true story (kind of…). A young girl goes to an all-girls’ middle school in Iran while secretly bringing in her manga with her. One day her friend finds out and chaos ensues.

THE SCHOOL BUS (SERVIS) (Turkey, 14 minutes)
Dir: Ramazan Kılıç

Nebahat, a teacher in her 20s, has just been appointed to a rural village school in Anatolia. She realizes that her students are struggling to arrive at school, hitchhiking on tractors, using whatever means they can find. She asks the Ministry of Education for a shuttle, but without a driver, the vehicle is useless. So, she decides to be the bus driver for her students, but she does not know how to drive!

Dir: Erin Semine Kökdil

Central American mothers journey by bus through Mexico, searching for their children who migrated north towards the United States but disappeared en route.

SQUISH (SPRÖTCH) (Belgium, 20 minutes)
Dir: Xavier Seron

Flo has to go to Marrakech for work. Tom takes care of Sam, their five-year-old son. When he forgets about Sam’s guitar lesson, Flo calls to blame him about it. Tom hates to be caught. He takes Sam with him and drives out of the garage at full speed. “Sprötch”… Tom has just run over something.

Dir: Daniel Rodríguez Risco

In the square and tidy universe of an unconventional family, Mother is the guardian of order and Junior the distorting agent. A house where everything that doesn’t fit, goes to waste.

STILL PROCESSING (Canada, 17 minutes)
Dir: Sophy Romvari

A box of stunning family photos awakens grief and lost memories as they are viewed for the first time on camera. Filmmaker Sophy Romvari documents her first-hand experience as an exploration into cinema as therapy in this nonfiction short.

SUNGURA (RABBIT) (Kenya, 20 minutes)
Dir: Lydia Matata

A woman with a disability wants to buy a vibrator from a traditional sexologist, or senga during a friend’s bridal shower; but she must confront other women at the party who believe that she is non-sexual because she uses a wheelchair, so shouldn’t need a vibrator in the first place.

TIME TO VOTE (VOTAMOS) (Spain, 14 minutes)
Dir: Santiago Requejo Lopez-Mateos

What begins as an ordinary board meeting in a traditional apartment building to vote to repair the elevator turns into an unexpected debate about the limits of peaceful coexistence.

Dir: Simon Schnellmann

In the rhythm of the dripping chemo, an IV-pole fights for the life of a cancer patient.

Dir: Hüseyin Aydin Gürsoy

Due to unpaid wages, Elif and her husband are deep in debt. Elif’s husband wants to return to Turkey, but she believes there’s a better future for her son in France.

WAR AND HONEY (Ukraine, 7 minutes)
Dir: Matthew Ritenour

Soldiers returning from the frontlines in eastern Ukraine are facing many difficulties reintegrating into society. Thousands have lost their jobs, their family members or their homes. Many are struggling with mental health issues and social stigmas. With a grant from the IFRC, Pavlograd Legion has taken a unique approach in supporting veterans to get back on their feet.

WASHING MACHINE (Czech Republic, 5 minutes)
Dir: Alexandra Májová

Wash and love.

WE HAVE ONE HEART (Poland, 11 minutes)
Dir: Katarzyna Warzecha

After his mother dies, Adam comes across some letters his parents exchanged years ago. This is an opportunity for him to find out more about his father, who he never knew. The juxtaposition of animated drawings and archival material takes us back forty years and enables us to uncover an extraordinary family secret.

WE STAY IN THE HOUSE (USA, 15 minutes)
Dir: Kiyoko McCrae

We Stay In the House provides an intimate portrait of four mothers in New Orleans as they struggle to care for their families and themselves throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Between taking care of their children, finding time to work, and coping with personal loss and health crises, these women’s stories represent the lived realities of millions of mothers in America.

WORLD CUP (Iran, 18 minutes)
Dir: Maryam Khodabaksh

On the night of a couple’s migration, the child of their friend who has been entrusted to them gets lost, and then a secret is revealed.

2020 Festival Awards

Our third annual festival was held last month, virtually across Canada, and once more exceeded my expectations. I’m grateful to our staff, volunteers, audience, and especially to our filmmakers, and I want to recognize those films awarded by our juries and audience. Thank you to all our jury members for their hard work and for lending us their expertise. Congratulations to these filmmakers but also to all the rest of the filmmakers who allowed us to share their work during the festival. Toronto Canada enjoyed watching your films and we can’t wait to see what you’re working on next!

Award Winners 2020

Best Narrative Film

El tamaño de las cosas [poster image]

The Size of Things (El tamaño de las cosas) (Dir: Carlos Felipe Montoya)

Jury statement: A child’s world is often filled with the unexpected and unexplained. The winning work immerses us in the beautiful Colombian countryside, into the loving home shared by an indigenous father and his young son. The director has crafted a memorable film whose stunning production design and incredible camerawork enhances its deeply original story that is in equal measures tender, prosaic, and magical. It reminds us of the power and possibility embedded in every child.

Best Documentary Film

Huntsville Station [poster image]

Huntsville Station (Dirs: Chris Filippone, Jamie Meltzer)

Jury statement: For its humane, compassionate approach, intimate storytelling and patient craft in capturing a moment of freedom and the uncertain future that awaits, the Best Short Documentary award goes to Huntsville Station.

Best Animated Film

Freeze Frame [poster image]

Freeze Frame (Dir: Soetkin Verstegen)

Jury statement: With stunning cinematography and haunting sound design, this film expresses the beauty, fragility, and impermanence of not only ice, but life itself. It’s difficult to imagine a more unforgiving medium for animation than one that is in constant danger of melting into nothingness. This short film is not only a remarkable achievement in its own right, but with its nods to the pioneering work of Eadweard Muybridge, it is also a fitting celebration of animation itself and of film’s ability to capture and preserve motion.

Audience Award

The Vasectomy Doctor [poster image]

The Vasectomy Doctor (Dir: Paul Webster)

There was also a jury special mention in one category:

  • Special Mention (Narrative): Idols Never Die (Dir: Jerome Yoo)

Jury statement: It is rare, especially now, to find a short that is so breezy, smart, and full of pop sensibility, one that appeals to our nostalgia and yet feels incredibly fresh. Jerome Yoo’s Idols Never Die manages to do all those things with the potentially dark, pulled-from-the-headlines subject of tragic K-Pop idols and their devoted uber-fans. Its energetic cinematography and performances made for an exciting and stylish watch, complemented by a screenplay that goes to the mushy heart of the heightened emotions and complex hierarchies of teen friendship.

Full 2020 Lineup Revealed

Here’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. I’m delighted to share the full lineup for our 2020 (virtual) festival, which will be screened online all across Canada from November 13-22. Thanks are in order to our amazing programming team: Linda Taillon, Diana Sernick, Keith Klegman, Cameron Carpenter, Shelagh Rowan-Legg, Brennan Tilley, Ariane Molinatti, Iris Bagola, Amanda Clarke, Caterina Micci, Felix De Leon, Emily Monroe, Catharine Macdonald, Tammy Magnusson, Alessandro Romano, Caitlin Mayberry, Terry Chi, Hillary Butler, Kyle McCarthy, Craig McCourt, and Ignacio Hernández. I couldn’t have done it without your help!

Tickets and passes are on sale now, and you can also see the schedule and the film guide at our festival mini-site. Hope you’ll join us in November!

74 films from 24 countries. Narrative films (43), documentaries (13), and animated films (19); something for everyone. Some other facts: 16 Canadian films, 28 films directed by women, 11 student films.

2020 Festival Poster (Red)

705 (Canada, 3 minutes)
Dir: Samantha Henry

A character lives in an inhospitable world, but they start their day just like many of us; with a fresh cup of coffee.

A JAR OF NUTS (Cyprus, 17 minutes)
Dir: Savvas Stavrou

Isolated in his apartment, the lonely forty-year old Giorgos meticulously devises an intricate plan to take his life after his beloved mother chokes to death on a pistachio.

As the day progresses, Giorgos allows excuses, obstacles and people to hinder his final deadly leap from the balcony, completely oblivious to the true reason behind all his stalling.

À LA MODE (France, 9 minutes)
Dir: Jean Lecointre

In a kingdom tormented by fashion crazes, a queen and her court must always keep up with the new trend. If not, an abominable monster will consume them: the Ridicule. But with the arrival of a disarmingly natural cowboy, this nation of fashion victims laughs, and a simple question arises: what if the Ridicule isn’t what we think?

ARCHIBALD’S SYNDROME (France, 19 minutes)
Dir: Daniel Perez

Archibald was born with a curious curse: he can’t make a move without everyone around doing the same. In despair, he robs a bank and meets Indiana, a young woman who has always escaped every form of control.

AS YOU CAN SEE (Egypt, 8 minutes)
Dir: Ghada Fikri

Can the lines in a hand hold stories? What memories do the grooves store? Ghada invites her mother to reflect on her life while taking us on a poetic exploration into her mother’s hands: the hands that raised five children almost single handedly. Why, Ghada asks, should someone have to give up their hands for those they love?

ASPARAGUS 2 (USA, 5 minutes)
Dir: Yuma Slowbinder

The next great American asparagus movie.

A doctor informs his patient that when he thinks he’s eating asparagus he is actually smoking an entire pack of unfiltered Cuban cigarettes. Upon learning this the patient must reckon with his own subjectivity, with no help from at all from his doctor.

BALLAD OF MUSIC NOTES (China, 4 minutes)
Dir: Xi Chengzhuo

For every piano player, there is a world of notes in the score book, and every performance is a journey into this world. Books are the carrier of the world. In the same world, the people who enter and the way they play are different. What happens when two different players enter the world?

BEHIND THE MASK (UK, 11 minutes)
Dir: Simon K. Matthews

Two actors enter a mental, physical and emotional dick-swinging contest, leading to the inevitable reveal of their worst selves. Urgh, actors.

Dir: Alireza Ghasemi

Four kids start their journey to the moon with the mission of finding a mysterious place called The Redland but the gates are being guarded by a mischievous snake.

BKS (Canada, 11 minutes)
Dir: Alexa-Jeanne Dubé

BKS is a short fiction film using A.S.M.R. video codes to unfold.

THE BOOK (EL LLIBRE) (Spain, 3 minutes)
Dir: Francesca Català

A librarian is bored sitting at her desk until one book falls down from the shelves and interrupts her monotonous day.

BUT YOU’RE NOT BLACK (Canada, 19 minutes)
Dir: Danielle Ayow

A Chinese-Caribbean-Canadian woman, driven by people’s inability to separate her skin colour from her culture, tries to own the Trinidadian identity she knows should feel like hers.

CAMERA OBSCURA (France, 19 minutes)
Dirs: Mary-Noelle Dana, Sonia Sieff

Cléo, a fervent feminist, works in a catering company to pay for her studies. Hired on a fashion shoot by the team of Alice Klein, a world-famous photographer, Cléo is forced, at the risk of losing her job, to replace an unsuitable model at a moment’s notice.

CAYENNE (Canada, 11 minutes)
Dir: Simon Gionet

During her night shift at a remote gas station, a female clerk agrees to help a man whose car has broken down. While they both attempt to repair the vehicle, the driver’s intentions leave the young woman uncertain. In the middle of the deserted parking lot, an air of apprehension fills the night as the events of the evening unfold.

THE CHIMNEY SWIFT (Germany, 5 minutes)
Dir: Frédéric Schuld

19th century Europe. A child climbs up a chimney while a bird sails down into it to build a nest. An encounter with no way back. A British chimney sweeper describes his everyday routine of forcing young kids to become workers. While we observe a kid cleaning a chimney, the master’s statement gets more personal with every sentence until we understand, that he is speaking about his own past.

CIRCUS MOVEMENTS (Germany, 15 minutes)
Dirs: Lukas Berger, Mário Gajo de Carvalho

Circus culture is a space of diversity, cooperation and integration. A magical space with real people. Circus Movements was shot with circus kids from Ethiopia – Liya and Beza, doing the hula hoop; Habtamnesh, doing the aerial hoop; and the Beniyam, only 5 years old, performing acrobatics. Collectively, they are great circus artists performing in the magnificent landscapes of Ethiopia.

CUCKOO! (KOEKOEK!) (Netherlands, 7 minutes)
Dir: Jörgen Scholtens

A lonely man lives inside a cuckoo clock. Every hour he straps himself into his ejection seat and shoots through the doors of the clock. “Cuckoo!” He yells, “Cuckoo!” His work is of vital importance. The old lady who sits under the clock needs to take her medication exactly at the top of every hour. One day the man has the opportunity to win a substantial sum of money in a radio quiz. He loves gadgets and wants to buy a new computer. The only problem is that he can only dial in at the exact time he’s supposed to sit in his seat.

DEEP LOVE (Кохання) (Ukraine, 14 minutes)
Dir: Mykyta Lyskov

Deep love has finally happened in Ukraine

DOG DAYS (Poland, 15 minutes)
Dir: Zuzanna Gracjewicz

What is lacking in the world in which animals no longer exist? The two protagonists of Dog Days decide to establish a company which provides services for those who need a replacement for animals that are already extinct. In the relationship between humans and animals, all kinds of emotions are involved. Along with friendship and attachment, there is always a certain amount of violence, which will seek an outlet.

EMPTY PLACES (France, 8 minutes)
Dir: Geoffroy de Crécy

Where is everyone?

EXHALE (Ukraine, 6 minutes)
Dir: Igor Stekolenko

We observe the heroine in the most critical and significant moment of her life. She has been caught alone in the wasteland, in conditions that are unsuitable and disturbing for such an irreversible process. Her fearless determination and metaphysical force turn crisis into a positive resolution of the inevitable. Finally, the heroine is not alone anymore.

FELT LOVE (USA, 7 minutes)
Dirs: Arlene Bongco, Angeline Vu

A young boy learns to understand the depth of his mother’s love despite the distance her dedication may create.

FREEZE FRAME (Belgium, 5 minutes)
Dir: Soetkin Verstegen

Freeze frame: the most absurd technique since the invention of the moving image. Through an elaborate process of duplicating the same image over and over again, it creates the illusion of stillness. In this stop motion film, identical figures perform the hopeless task of preserving blocks of ice. The repetitive movements reanimate the animals captured inside.

FRENCH CINEMA (Bulgaria, 20 minutes)
Dir: Galina D. Georgieva

In a small country town, in the room behind the screen at the local cinema, two women spend their time by writing letters to Alain Delon. Inspired by The Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov.

FULLY INVOLVED (Canada, 11 minutes)
Dir: Kyle Kulla

Brampton Fire Captain Glenn Berwick discusses the horrific realities of being a Fire Fighter and the mental toll it can take on a person. Through his work, Glenn discusses having to build the mental barriers to be able to continue the job and how this strength plays a factor when he suffers extreme loss in his personal life, the suicide of his best friend.

FUNFAIR (Iran, 15 minutes)
Dir: Kaveh Mazaheri

Majid, a young financially struggling man, comes up with a ploy in order to better the life of his wife Sarah.

GANEF (UK, 14 minutes)
Dir: Mark Rosenblatt

London 1962. A little girl, spooked by a dark tale from her mother’s wartime past, starts to imagine their beloved family cleaner (Downton Abbey’s Sophie McShera) is a thief. GANEF (Yiddish for ‘thief’) explores how trauma can be passed from one generation to the next.

GLAD YOU’RE HERE (Canada, 10 minutes)
Dir: Lisa Kannakko

This autobiographical short film covers a 19-year history of the filmmaker’s life. It unfolds a traumatic story in a way that captures the viewer and offers transparency and new beginnings. A story about an extreme moment of crisis has turned into a documentary that deals not just with the subjective but with the important issue of spousal abuse.

GOODBYE GOLOVIN (Canada, 14 minutes)
Dir: Mathieu Grimard

For Ian Golovin, the death of his father is the chance at a new life outside his native country. As he prepares to leave and bid farewell to his sister, he is forced to face his decision — why he is always blindly moving forward and what he is leaving behind.

GREEN GRASS (Canada, 8 minutes)
Dir: Michael Greco

Poignant, powerful, and told without dialogue, Green Grass is a thought-provoking allegory that follows two hopeful migrants who make the arduous journey to what they believe must be a better life only to discover their destination may no longer be the place they thought it was.

HOT DOG (USA, 10 minutes)
Dir: Patrick Muhlberger

A group of coworkers try to rescue a dog trapped in a hot car. Chaos ensues in a single shot.

HOW TO FALL IN LOVE IN A PANDEMIC (Ireland, 10 minutes)
Dir: Michael-David McKernan

How to Fall in Love in a Pandemic is a short doc filmed in lockdown that follows a capsule romance between two filmmakers and how they are forced to move in together after knowing each other for just two weeks.

Dirs: Jamie Meltzer, Chris Filippone

Every weekday, inmates are released from Huntsville State Penitentiary, taking in their first moments of freedom with phone calls, cigarettes, and quiet reflection at the Greyhound station up the block.

THE ICE CUBES (LES GLAÇONS) (Belgium, 10 minutes)
(Dir: Sara Dufossé)

The Ice Cubes tells the story of a past relationship and what’s left of it after a few months, shot in a single take.

IDOLS NEVER DIE (Canada, 17 minutes)
Dir: Jerome Yoo

When Korean pop idol “N.D.” tragically dies, a dysfunctional group of high school fan girls discover a hidden message in his music, which leads them on a quest to fulfill his final wish — to spread his ashes over the tallest tree in their hometown forest.

JESSE JAMS (Canada, 16 minutes)
Dir: Trevor Anderson

A young Indigenous musician and his rock band bring mumblepunk to the Interstellar Rodeo. A rock ‘n’ roll survival story of a different stripe.

JUMPERS (France, 8 minutes)
Dir: Mario Schiniotakis

A group of rollerskaters take the streets of Paris as their playground.

KILT (France, 14 minutes)
Dir: Rakel Ström

Like lots of guys, Philippe is hairy.
Like lots of guys, Philippe is going bald.
Like lots of guys, Philippe would like to turn into a woman sometimes…
Today, Philippe has decided to become a brand new man!

THE LITTLE BEACH (LA PLAYITA) (Argentina, 13 minutes)
Dir: Sonia Bertotti

The city of Corrientes in summer. On the shores of the Paraná River, in the shadow of the General Belgrano Bridge, thousands of families compete for space for their umbrellas and chaise lounges. Priscila, a 7 year old girl no one pays any attention to, sets out in pursuit of an elusive toy vendor, getting further away from her family and closer to adventure.

THE LONELY ORBIT (Switzerland, 9 minutes)
Dirs: Frederic Siegel, Benjamin Morard

Leaving for his dream job, a satellite technician keeps solitude at bay by constantly texting with his old friends. After he neglects his duties, a satellite leaves its orbit which causes the world’s network to collapse.

MARTY (Canada, 7 minutes)
Dir: Mike McKinlay

Marty follows an 11 year old ’80s obsessed skate punk – stuck in the past while struggling to navigate the present.

MEATS (USA, 10 minutes)
Dir: Ashley Williams

A pregnant vegan struggles with her newfound craving for meat.

NORMAL (France, 11 minutes)
Dir: Julie Caty

Dany has a magic gift: he just snaps his fingers to get everything he desires. But he finds all that stupidly uninteresting or, to use his most usual expression: “NORMAL”! To overcome so much weariness, Dany drugs himself by consuming Magic Powder but one day, it runs out. Dany, completely defeated, stays in his room… and starts reading.

OUT OF ORDER (Canada, 17 minutes)
Dir: Matthias Falvai

In the not-so-distant future, Christopher, a depressed young man, enters a Suicide Assistance Booth hoping to end his life; however, the sentient AI has a plan of its own.

THE OWL (UGGLAN) (Sweden, 8 minutes)
Dirs: Simon Pontén, Joakim Behrman

The mood in a teachers’ lounge changes when the reason behind a teacher’s nickname is brought to light.

PEETE (Canada, 10 minutes)
Dir: Simon Madore

A washed-up misfit by the name of Peete moves temporarily into a quiet suburb. As he waits for a loved one to contact him, he forms a bond with a young neighbour to whom he bears a strange resemblance.

PERLE (France, 15 minutes)
Dir: Juliette Boucheny

Following the death of the man she loves, Perle decides not to live without him. One Saturday in July, in the heat of Cannes, her daughter and grandson come to lunch. Between the real and the unreal, Perle lives…

THE PHD (Canada, 20 minutes)
Dir: Maxime S. Girard

A romantic dinner turns into a ludicrous disaster when Bruno, an anxious psychology student, has to lie to his control-freak boyfriend about what really happened during his PhD entrance interview earlier that day.

PIPO AND BLIND LOVE (France, 13 minutes)
Dir: Hugo Le Gourrierec

In a dehumanized world where emotions are rationed and measured by gauges, Pipo, a young worker, falls under the spell of a young woman sitting on a bench. He will do everything he can to attract her attention and to seduce her with words of his own.

POSTPARTUM (Germany, 5 minutes)
Dir: Henriette Rietz

Postpartum is about the chaotic phase in life of a fresh mother. Pumped up with hormones and lacking sleep, this intense time has burned deep into the protagonist’s heart. This film is an honest and very personal insight into the world of an overwhelmed mother, who seriously thought that parental leave would become a sort of sabbatical.

THE PRAYER (China, 14 minutes)
(Dir: Xinyu Cao)

After a night of heavy drinking, an anaesthesiologist is asked to work his hospital connections to bring the best attention to his young grand-nephew who was hit by a car the previous evening. Fear and a sense of guilt escalate when he spots a dent on the back of his car. No matter where the truth lies, this atheist turns to pray before going into the operating room.

PREY (Canada, 6 minutes)
Dirs: Aiken Chau, Ella Ye, Keni Xiao Xuan Ji, Ryan Maman, Anastasia Adela Putra, Alice Liu, Sabrina Shan, Saniya Baig, Danny Del Toro, Rujun Ma, Summer Oh, Sabrina Shan, Nathan Chen

A relentless hunter travels through the forest collecting antlers and discovers monstrous consequences for his actions.

RAIN MACHINE (France, 10 minutes)
Dir: Jérôme Walter Gueguen

Two explorers arrive ashore in an abandoned land in search of a mysterious beast. Under a permanent driving rain, torn between their opposing beliefs while struggling with heavy equipment, they will walk together or die.

Dir: Chieh Cheng

Reminiscence​ is about a grandmother and her grandson, both immigrants from Earth living on Mars, who travel from the red planet back to the blue one. This film addresses not only the importance of a common destiny shared between humanity and Earth but also traces our history which roots in our memories. In the journey from the future to the past, between the virtual world and reality, viewers are asked to ponder the essence of life today and what it means to the humanity of the future.

RINGING (DAS LÄUTEN) (Germany, 19 minutes)
Dir: Erik Zühlsdorf

Jonas is a lost teenager. In desperation, he locks himself in a classroom with his teacher. He pulls out a gun to go on a rampage, but he gives his teacher the chance to write down some last words.

ROUTE-3 (Bosnia and Herzegovina, 13 minutes)
Dir: Thanasis Neofotistos

In a tram on Route-3, the old lady in the leopard dress treats the passengers with juicy oranges during a hot, but rainy day in the centre of Sarajevo. Nadja, the princess-teen in her pink hijab; Luka, the virgin bully; an Orthodox Priest; an old creepy man and many, many more ordinary people in this tram have nothing in common, but a juicy slice of orange. All except a shy, yet horny, teenager named Amar.

SAD BEAUTY (Netherlands, 10 minutes)
Dir: Arjen Brentjes

In a heavily polluted world, a young woman mourns the disappearance of animal species. When she falls ill due to a bacterial infection, nature appears to send her a message in her hallucinations.

Dir: Carlos Felipe Montoya

Diego lives with his father in a house without things, without furniture, without anything. One day he finds a chair deep in the woods and the desire of possession arises. Diego takes the chair back home but his father disagrees and orders him to return it. At night, the father recognizes the boy’s feeling of dearth and allows Diego to bring the chair again. Diego returns to the forest but something has happened, something really big. He can’t bring the chair this time.

STORY (Poland, 5 minutes)
Dir: Jolanta Bankowska

Story is a reflection about modern man in an age of omnipresent technology. Looking through stories – a popular function in many social media platforms – we see people who are lonely, lost or already indifferent about reality surrounding them. Action takes place during one day and it’s told by short, often (auto)ironic scenes, where virtual world sinks to reality.

STUD BOOB (USA, 10 minutes)
Dir: Shaina Feinberg

Two sisters in a bathroom debate their different approaches to the patriarchy.

SUNDAY (India, 10 minutes)
Dir: Arun Fulara

When the middle-aged Kamble makes his weekly visit to the neighbourhood barber shop, it’s not just for a shave. He can’t wait to be touched by Jaan, the new barber-boy he has a crush on. It’s the highlight of his otherwise dull existence as a married man leading a dual life in a society that abhors homosexuality.

SUPPORTER (Прибічник) (Ukraine, 8 minutes)
Dir: Sergey Naida

Transporting cultural value from another dimension, the courier soldier finds himself in the vastness of the Ukrainian present.

Dir: Kristina Wagenbauer

After a month of texting, Zoe has organized a perfect first date with Marc. Their expectations will be tested by reality.

TOXIC (TÓXICO) (Mexico, 18 minutes)
Dir: Fabián Archondo

A couple in a marriage crisis will have to survive a terrible explosion that releases toxic particles into the environment while being trapped in a little house in the middle of the desert.

TRIMMING (ZUSCHNITT) (Switzerland, 15 minutes)
Dir: Larissa Odermatt

A film about one’s own hair, about self-discovery, social constraints and defining beauty ideals in the digital age.

TRUTH HERTZ (USA, 3 minutes)
Dir: Shaun Majumder

When a father suspects his son is lying, he buys lie detector robot and gets more truth than he had hoped for.

THE VASECTOMY DOCTOR (Ireland, 11 minutes)
Dir: Paul Webster

The Vasectomy Doctor is a short film produced in 2018 as part of Screen Ireland’s Real Shorts documentary scheme. It tells the story of Dr. Andrew Rynne, Ireland’s first vasectomist.

THE VISIT (Iran, 14 minutes)
Dir: Azadeh Moussavi

After six months, Elaheh is finally allowed to visit her husband, who is a political prisoner. Elaheh and her little daughter Tara have one single day to prepare for this important meeting.

WADE (India, 11 minutes)
Dirs: Upamanyu Bhattacharyya, Kalp Sanghvi

In a version of Kolkata, India rendered unlivable by sea level rise, things take a dark turn when a family of climate change refugees are ambushed by a tiger on the flooded streets.

WAITING FOR HAROLD (Germany, 6 minutes)
Dir: Christoph Lauenstein

Is there something like destiny or is life just a line of coincidences? With small clay figures and a continuously moving camera Waiting for Harold explores the meaning of only small changes for the development of each character’s story.

WAVES (USA, 14 minutes)
Dir: Jane Hae Kim

Jamie, a hesitant Korean-American woman, visits home for the holidays. She hopes to catch up and make some sort of connection with her family but instead, like in the past, feels isolated and alone. Through the experience of feeling like the black sheep once again, she looks to different forms of water as a means of comfort and re-connection.

Dir: Julien Crampon

Two friends are cycling on a road. They’re cruising, taking their time and absorbing the world one last time. A conversation starts.

2019 Festival Awards

Our second annual festival was held this past weekend, and exceeded my expectations once again. I’m grateful to our staff, volunteers, audience, and especially to our filmmakers, and I want to recognize those films awarded by our juries and audience. Thank you to all our jury members for their hard work and for lending us their expertise. Congratulations to these filmmakers but also to all the rest of the filmmakers who allowed us to share their work during the festival. Toronto enjoyed watching your films and we can’t wait to see what you’re working on next!

Award Winners 2019

Best Narrative Film

Patision Avenue [poster image]

Patision Avenue (Dir: Thanasis Neofotistos)

Jury statement: The director masterfully lets us tap into the protagonist’s rapidly rising pulse while handling a mother’s everyday challenges in streets under the siege of an aggressive political riot.

Best Documentary Film

Dulce [poster image]

Dulce (Dirs: Guille Isa, Angello Faccini)

Jury statement: A subtle and moving portrait of a Colombian mother and daughter harvesting clams amidst the existential threats of climate change, this has the deft storytelling of a scripted film, accumulating power and significance rather than demanding it. Intimate and observational, the film’s success lies in its focus on impression and vignette over traditional narrative, conveying a vital message without preaching. Sometimes the greatest works of art are those that feel simultaneously about the smallest stories and the enormity of being alive; to see that in a work of nonfiction is an impressive feat indeed.

Best Animated Film

Pura Vida [poster image]

Pura Vida (Dir: Nata Metlukh)

Jury statement: Great fun! Nice design and style and funny stuff!

Audience Award – TIE

Nefta Football Club [poster image]Girl in the Hallway [poster image]

Nefta Football Club (Dir: Yves Piat)
Girl in the Hallway (Dir: Valerie Barnhart)

There were also jury special mentions in the three categories:

  • Special Mention (Narrative): Repugnant (Dir: Kyan Krumdieck)
  • Special Mention (Documentary): The Snowball Treasury (Dir: Kara Blake)
  • Special Mention (Animated): Good Intentions (Dir: Anna Mantzaris)