Compassion, Film and the Consolation of Art in Trying Times..... still relevant

Canadian producer Nicole Hilliard-Forde curates The TIFF Review and reaches out to Natasha Lyonne, Mark Rendall and Mayuran Tiruchelvam for comment


by Nicole Hilliard-Forde

Nov 14, 2016 @ 6:00am

“To look life in the face, always, to look life in the face and to know it for what it is.” — Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman), The Hours

Given the climate of fear and paranoia prompted by the results of the US election, I wanted to explore the idea of compassion — defined, literally, as “to suffer together” — in relation to film. In 2015, I produced The Other Half, a moving emotional drama written and directed by Joey Klein, starring Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), Tom Cullen (Downton Abbey, Weekend), Suzanne Clément (Mommy, Laurence Anyways), Henry Czerny (Revenge) and Mark Rendall (The History of Love, The Exploding Girl). The film is a dark romantic drama about a young woman with bipolar disorder and a young man with PTSD who fall in love and struggle to forge a simple life together. It’s a strong first feature for the director and opens theatrically on December 2.

Read the rest of the piece here

We Forgot to Break up is now streaming on Amazon Video Prime in the US and UK

We are so thrilled to share this project with you all. The short film We Forgot to Break Up is now available on Amazon in the US and UK. And will soon be available on Google Play in the US, UK and Ireland, and on iTunes in 60 territories.

We have just completed a heartwarming festival circuit run which included TIFF 2017, New York LGBT Film Festival 2017, SXSW 2018 in Narrative Shorts Competition, Maryland Film Festival 2018, Chicago Critics Film Festival 2018 where it took home the Best Short Film Audience Award, Cannes Short Film Corner 2018, Inside Out Toronto LGBT FF 2018, Barcelona Lesbian and Gay Film Festival 2018, Frameline42 San Francisco International LGBTQ FF 2018, Palm Springs ShortFest 2018, OutFest 2018, Film Score Music Festival 2018, and GAZE International LGBT Film Festival 2018.

We Forgot to Break Up reflects the heartache in encountering the people from your past, while the song remains the same. In this backstage drama, directed by Chandler Levack, written by Levack and Steven McCarthy, and produced by Nicole Hilliard-Forde and Matt Hilliard-Forde of Motel Pictures, Evan Strocker (Jesse Todd) returns to see the band he used to manage after a painful three-year hiatus. Times have changed and the band members of Heidegger have gravitated towards lives in Los Angeles and as new parents. Evan has also undergone a radical change, now proudly living as a trans man. As he encounters each members of the band moments before their sold out show, he'll find a way forward towards self acceptance and love, especially as he encounters his ex-boyfriend Lugh. Adapted from Kayt Burgess' novel Heidegger Stairwell, the film makes new myths out of Canada's indie rock heritage with raw humour and a landmark performance from trans newcomer Jesse Todd.


SOFIA BANZHAF “Allison” is a German-born writer, actor and filmmaker based in Toronto. Film and television credits include Closet Monster, Bitten and Reign. Her novella Pony Castle won the Metatron Prize for Rising Authors in 2015. She is currently in post-production on her first feature film that she co-wrote and co-directed.

CARA GEE “Isis” is a Canadian film, television and stage actress. Gee was primarily known as a stage actress in Toronto, Ontario, where her acting credits have included productions of Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad, Daniel MacIvor’s ArigatoTokyo, Tomson Highway’s The Rez Sisters, Cliff Cardinal’s Stitch, Birdtown and Swanville’s 36 Little Plays About Hopeless Girls and Louise Dupré’s Tout comme elle. She made her feature film debut in Empire of Dirt for which she was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award. For this role, she also won a Special Jury award at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival as well as an award for Best Actress at the American Indian Film Festival. In 2013, at TIFF, Gee was named one of the festival’s annual ‘Rising Stars.’ Gee has also worked in television, recently playing guest roles in the television series King and Republic of Doyle. In 2014, she starred as one of the lead characters in the Western drama series Strange Empire on CBC Television, for two seasons until it was cancelled in 2015. As of 2016, she stars in the 33-episode web series Inhuman Condition, which airs on the KindaTV YouTube channel.

GRACE GLOWICKI “Coco” is an actress, director, and writer, who recently won the Sundance Film Festival’s Short Film Special Jury Award for Outstanding Performance for her role in Her Friend Adam. Based in Toronto, she recently wrapped shooting Grayson Moore’s independent film Cardinal, opposite Sheila McCarthy and Katie Boland, and is currently in production on Suck It Up, in which she co-stars and co-executive produces based on a story she developed with Erin Carter. Other recent acting credits include the short film A Teachable Moment, which recently premiered at the TriBeCa Film Festival, and the short film Bonfire, which premiered at the LA Shorts Fest. She is currently in development on her feature directorial debut, Tito, in which she will star. In 2016, Glowicki was named on of TIFF’s Rising Stars.

STEVEN MCCARTHY “Angus” is an acclaimed actor, director, and musician. The ElastoCitizens, McCarthy’s ten-piece funk band, are cult favourites on the Toronto music scene. His acclaimed theatre productions such as BlissMalaria Lullaby, and Boblo combined elements of circus, dance, trapeze, and rock and roll. Best known for roles in The Strain, HBO’s Good God, the indie hit Picture Day, and A&E’s The Crossing, he’s had the pleasure of working with such directors as Guillermo del Toro, Ken Finkelman, Kate Melville and Robert Harmon. More recently McCarthy starred in Andrew Currie’s ensemble comedy The Steps, sharing the screen with Christine Lahti, James Brolin, Emmanuelle Chriqui and Jason Ritter. In 2015 he wrote and directed his first short film, O NEGATIVE. It has played at festivals all over North America including TIFF, RiverRun, Whistler, Cleveland, Palm Springs, and the Portland International Film Festival and was named by TIFF as one of Canada’s Top Ten Short Films of 2015.

MARK RENDALL “Lugh” started acting at the age of ten, when he asked his parents if he could try his hand at acting. Fortunately, around the same time, the Cameron Maclntosh London touring production of the musical Oliver was holding auditions for children. Having had no formal training in either acting or singing, he surprised everyone when he was cast in the role of Spider, and as understudy to the lead role, Oliver.

He later starred in several films, including The Impossible Elephant, Tales from the Neverending Story (for which he received a 2002 Gemini nomination), the multi-award-winning Touching Wild Horses (2002) opposite Jane Seymour (for which he received a 2003 Young Artists Award nomination), Disney’s The Scream Team with Eric Idle, the Court TV Peabody Award-winning true story, The Interrogation of Michael Crowe (for which he received a 2004 ACTRA Award nomination for Outstanding Performance – Male), Don McKellar’s dark comedy Childstar (2004), opposite Jennifer Jason Leigh, Eric Stoltz and Dave Foley; the title role in Spirit Bear: The Simon Jackson Story (2004) with Ed Begley, Jr. and Graham Greene, NBC’s mini-series Revelations (2005) opposite Bill Pullman and Natascha MacElhone, and Francois Girard’s Silk. Rendall played supporting roles in the films 30 Days of Night, opposite Josh Hartnett and Melissa George, and Charlie Bartlett, with Anton Yelchin and Kat Dennings. In 2009, he starred in the films, Victoria Day, directed by David Bezmozgis, and The Exploding Girl, directed by Bradley Rust Gray.

DOV TIEFENBACH “Will” was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He began his acting career at the age of 12, first starting off in commercials before playing the role of ‘Josh Avery’ in the television series RoboCop (1994), and landed his first starring role as ‘Murray Murray’ in the short film Love Child (1995) alongside actress Neve Campbell. After those pivotal first projects, Dov was cast as the lead role ‘Nick Burns’ in the 1996 Broadway production A Thousand Clowns alongside actor Judd Hirsch. After returning to Toronto, his name started to get around as he worked his way further into the film industry, starring in the lead roles of both Little Men and Cheaters. And in 2003 he won a Leo Award for Best Supporting Male Performance in Flower & Garnet (2002). His most recent roles include the reclusive writer ‘Lucky Carroway’ in the television series This Space for Rent (2006), the troubled young ‘Adrian’ in the psychological thriller The Dark Hours (2005) and the hippie drug dealer ‘Bradley Thomas’ in the comedy Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004). Before he moved to Los Angeles, he was the frontman for the “dirty indie pop” band Theresa’s Sound-World (named after a Sonic-Youth song), based out of Toronto, who performed in various venues around the city.

JESSE TODD “Evan” is a new actor whose first lead role was as Evan Strocker in the short film We Forgot to Break Up. Jesse also appeared in the film Cave Small Cave Big by Joele Walinga. He has done a number of live comedy performances including Feminist Live Reads Presents: Mean Girls, and Toronto Pride 2016 Stand Up Comedy programming.


CHANDLER LEVACK (Director, Co-Writer)

Chandler Levack is an award-winning writer and director. After being selected for a screenwriting seminar at the University of Toronto taught by Semi Chellas (Mad Men) and Patricia Rozema (Grey Gardens, Into the Forest), she wrote the coming-of-age comedy Felt Up, based on an article written for her college newspaper where she investigated the world of professional pickup artists. A music journalist for SPIN and The Village Voice whose writing has been nominated for multiple National Magazine Awards, Chandler transitioned into filmmaking after graduating from the CFC Writer’s Lab in 2012, where she wrote the short film Lunchbox Loser, which has screened at festivals world-wide including the Portland Women’s Festival, Cannes Short Film Corner, Canadian Film Festival, and the Lahore International Children’s Festival.

Her music videos have played at the MoMA, Cannes Lions Festival, LA Music Video Festival, and the British Film Institute. In 2015 and 2016, two music videos directed for the Toronto punk band PUP (“Guilt Trip,” “Dark Days”) were nominated at the UK Video Music Awards (2015), Juno Awards (2015, 2016), Prism Prize (2015, 2016), MuchMusic Video Awards (2016), and were selected for the prestigious 2015 Saatchi and Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase, whose alumni includes Michel Gondry, Floria Sigismondi, Jonathan Glazer, and Spike Jonze. Chandler’s narrative work includes the sardonic comedy Idiots in Paradise, which won “Best Short Film” at the 2016 LA Comedy Festival, and the upcoming BravoFACT We Forgot to Break Up, produced by Motel Pictures (The Other Half).

Chandler is the creator of the “Feminist Live Read” series, in which she casts an all-female ensemble to perform iconic screenplays (regardless of gender) to raise awareness of the disparity of roles available to women. Past performances in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal include readings of Reservoir Dogs, Almost Famous, Ocean’s 11, Mean Girls, and Entourage with actors including Sook-Yin Lee, Mia Kirshner, Katharine Isabelle, Kristin Lehmann, Diana Bang, Ali Liebert, Katie Boland, Cara Gee, and Lauren Collins. The National Post said it was “helping to push forward the public discourse surrounding issues of gender equality.”

Chandler is currently developing her first feature as a writer/director, Anglophone, a “casual hangout movie” about the Anglophones in the Montreal indie rock scene who can’t speak French with Zapruder Films (VICE’s Nirvanna the Band the Show, Operation Avalanche). She is the Digital Editor and Staff Writer for the Toronto International Film Festival where she lives and breathes movies.

STEVEN MCCARTHY (Co-Writer) is an acclaimed actor, director, and musician. The ElastoCitizens, McCarthy’s ten-piece funk band, are cult favourites on the Toronto music scene. His acclaimed theatre productions such as BlissMalaria Lullaby, and Boblo combined elements of circus, dance, trapeze, and rock and roll. Best known for roles in The Strain, HBO’s Good God, the indie hit Picture Day, and A&E’s The Crossing, he’s had the pleasure of working with such directors as Guillermo del Toro, Ken Finkelman, Kate Melville and Robert Harmon. More recently McCarthy starred in Andrew Currie’s ensemble comedy The Steps, sharing the screen with Christine Lahti, James Brolin, Emmanuelle Chriqui and Jason Ritter. In 2015 he wrote and directed his first short film, O NEGATIVE. It has played at festivals all over North America including TIFF, RiverRun, Whistler, Cleveland, Palm Springs, and the Portland International Film Festival and was named by TIFF as one of Canada’s Top Ten Short Films of 2015.

MICHAEL A. PERLMUTTER (Music Supervisor, Executive Producer)

Michael’s company instinct entertainment is a music supervision, licensing and creative consultation company based in Toronto, Canada. Michael has placed thousands of songs in tv shows, films and documentaries, seen and heard around the world, most recently in The Handmaid’s Tale S1, the Hulu network’s smash TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel.

Select TV credits include: Penny Dreadful, Vikings, Degrassi, Houdini & Doyle, Private Eyes, Beauty and the Beast, Cracked, Haven, Rogue, and The l.A. Complex.

 Select film credits: ArbitrageThe Other Half, HevnKiss & CryAcross The LineThe ColonyA Beginner’s Guide to Endings, & All The Wrong Reasons.

Select special projects: highlight reels for CTV’s Olympic broadcasts (Vancouver & London), curating the Canadian Music Café during the Toronto International Film Festival, and licensing & administration for the National Music Centre in Calgary.

He has been asked to moderate and speak on panels around the world, including: Sweden, Finland, Norway, Miami, New York, Cannes, Calgary, Halifax, and Toronto.

Michael is also an avid Toronto Maple Leafs fan, loves to travel and will never pass up a long walk on a beach (as he’s never near one).

MURRAY LIGHTBURN (Musical Director and composer of We Forgot To Break Up)

Murray is a composer, musician, performer, music producer, writer and director who believes uncompromisingly in the power of art and music. Co-founder and lead singer for the Montreal based band The Dears he has performed hundreds of concerts globally, including radio (BBC, CBC, KCRW) and has made TV appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, & George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight.

In addition to writing and producing eight highly acclaimed albums of his own, Murray continues to hone his craft while helping other musicians and writers realize their own artistic visions. He has received well over a dozen nominations including the Polaris Music Prize, GAMIQ Awards, Canadian Indie Awards, Juno’s, and CASBY Awards. 

Murray and The Dears have seen their songs placed and have created original songs for notable feature films like Zack & Miri Make a Porno and Save the Date and for TV series Gossip Girl and Grey’s Anatomy. He has also written, directed and produced documentary concert performances such as his own Mass;LightNever Destroy Us, and The Gospel According to The Dears.


Originally constructed as a movie theatre in 1919, the building was first known as the Allen’s Danforth, after its owner the Allen Theatre Chain. The theatre gained the Music Hall name when it started featuring live acts in the late 1970s.

Renamed “The Danforth Music Hall” in 2011 when Impresario Inc. took over ownership, and since remodelled and renovated, the Danforth Music Hall is a now major attraction for concerts featuring international and local artists, and provided a perfect location for We Forgot To Break Up. Artists performing at the venue over its long history include James Brown, The Clash, The Police, Tegan & Sara, Rihanna, Hanson, Neil Gaiman, Mogwai, Chromeo, and Arcade Fire.


RUNNER and WE FORGOT TO BREAK UP win the Audience Award at CCFF!

Movie City News Ray Pride May 14, 2018

(Chicago, IL) — The Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA), the Chicago-area print, online and broadcast critics group that celebrates the art of film and film criticism, today announces the Audience Award winners following the 6th Chicago Critics Film Festival. Audiences selected Closing Night feature presentation Eighth Grade as winner of the Audience Award for narrative features; the film screened to a sold-out crowd as the festival wrapped up on May 10 at Chicago’s historic Music Box Theater.


Additionally, Three Identical Strangers, the incredible true story of three triplets separated at birth and reunited years later, received the Audience Award for documentary, while two short films tied for Audience Award honors: Runner, written and directed by Chicago-based filmmaker Clare Cooney, and We Forgot to Break Up.


The sixth edition of the festival also boasted the largest crowds to date, with a nearly 15% increase in ticket sales over 2017’s affair, the largest growth year-over-year for the highly-anticipated annual event. Special guests this year included Gugu Mbatha-Raw (A Wrinkle in Time) and Jordan Horowitz (La La Land) with Opening Night selection Fast Color; writer/director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull) with First Reformed; Bo Burnham (The Big Sick) with his feature film debut, Eighth Grade; and many more. Images from the 2018 Chicago Critics Film Festival can be found here.


“We’re beyond thrilled with the reception of this year’s festival,” said producers and programmers Erik Childress and Brian Tallerico. “Not only was it our strongest slate of films, as filmmakers and studios continue to recognize the audiences they can connect to through us, but the lines wrapped around the block throughout the week prove that Chicago film lovers are eager and hungry for the quality of films we present.”


As the week-long event came to a close, it was also announced that the Chicago Critics Film Festival would participate in the City of Chicago’s outdoor film series at Millennium Park, selecting Mad Max: Fury Road to screen Tuesday, June 12 at Pritzker Pavilion. The summer series features selections from several different film festivals around the city.


Runner-up for Best Film Festival in the Chicago Reader’s 2017 “Best of Chicago” poll, the CCFF annually features a selection of acclaimed films chosen by members of the organization, a combination of recent festival favorites and as-yet-undistributed works from a variety of filmmakers, from established Oscar winners to talented newcomers. It is the only current example of a major film critics group that hosts its own festival. The seventh edition of the festival will return in May of 2019.


About the Chicago Film Critics Association

The Chicago Film Critics Association supports and celebrates quality filmmaking that has something to say about our world, our lives, and our society. In the past, while the CFCA’s priority was to support and fight for the continued role of film critics in the media, the CFCA’s public interaction was limited to the announcement of its annual film awards. In recent years, the CFCA has expanded its presence on the Chicago arts scene, promoting critical thinking about cinema to a wider base through several initiatives, including the re-launch of a late-winter film awards ceremony; CFCA-hosted film screenings throughout Chicagoland; and a Young People’s Film Criticism Workshop at Facets Multimedia. The annual Chicago Critics Film

Inside Out announces 2018 lineup

The 28th edition of Toronto's LGBTQ film festival will screen new films by Desiree Akhavan, John Cameron Mitchell and Sook-Yin Lee


MAY 4, 2018 11:30 AM

The Inside Out film festival announced its 2018 lineup today, and it’s packed: the 28th edition of the festival will screen 49 features and 84 shorts from a total of 27 countries, all dedicated to exploring and illuminating LGBTQ issues.

There’s a strong selection of trans and non-binary content in this year’s festival, which runs from May 24 to June 3.

Documentary programming includes Sophia Dros’s Genderbende, about five young Dutch people who identify as non-binary or genderqueer and the way they negotiate daily life; T Cooper’s Man Made, a look at four trans men training for the world’s only all-trans bodybuilding competition; Kiko Goifman and Claudia Priscilla’s Bixa Travesty, celebrating the Brazilian trans artist Quebrada, and PJ Raval’s Hot Docs hit Call Her Ganda, recounting the attempt to prosecute an American serviceman for the murder of a trans woman in the Philippines.

A number of shorts continue the conversation, including Milena Salazar and Joella Cabalu’s Do I Have Boobs Now?, about trans activist Courtney Demone’s efforts to challenge Instagram’s image restrictions and Mary Evangelista’s Fran This Summer, about a teenager in transition. Trans issues also feature strongly in Luis De Filippis’s Sundance winner For Nonna Anna and Chandler Levack’s We Forgot To Break Up, which both premiered at TIFF last year.

Silas Howard’s A Kid Like Jake, starring Claire Danes and Jim Parsons as the parents of a gender-fluid four-year-old, was announced as the opening night film last month, but now we know Inside Out 2018 will close with the international premiere of Brett Haley’s Hearts Beat Loud, starring Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons as a father and daughter whose close relationship is fractured when they start a band together – and have an unexpected hit.

Canary, Christiaan Olwagen’s musical drama about a young man coming of age in Apartheid-era South Africa, makes its world premiere as the festival’s Centerpiece, while Amy Adrion’s documentary Half The Picture, a documentary taking stock of female filmmakers in American cinema, will receive its Canadian premiere as this year’s Women’s Gala.

Screening in special presentation slots are Desiree Akhavan’s The Miseducation Of Cameron Post, which won the grand jury prize at Sundance earlier this year and stars Chloë Grace Moretz as a queer teen sent to a “de-gaying” facility, and Yen Tan’s 1985, which casts Gotham’s Corey Michael Smith as a closeted man trying to come out to his conservative family in the early years of the AIDS crisis.

Canadian programming includes the world premiere of Sook-Yin Lee’s new feature Octavio Is Dead, starring Sarah Gadon as a woman trying to discover the father she never got the chance to meet – over the objections of her mother (Rosanna Arquette) – and the Canadian premiere of Colin Minihan’s What Keeps You Alive, with Brittany Allen and Hannah Emily Anderson as a couple whose first wedding anniversary becomes a battle for survival.

Sarah Fodey’s The Fruit Machine looks at the RCMP’s efforts to weed out gay federal employees during the Cold War – on the grounds that their sexuality could make them a blackmail risk – and Laura Marie Wayne’s Love, Scott – which just screened at Hot Docs – follows the filmmaker’s friend Scott Jones as he recovers from a brutal assault by joining the fight against homophobic hate crimes.

The Icons program is packed with documentaries about, well, icons: Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex, Fashion, & Disco profiles the eponymous illustrator who helped shaped the images of Grace Jones and Jerry Hall, among others; Every Act Of Life looks at the career of American playwright Terrence McNally; Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story examines the legacy of a pivotal makeup artist; Silvana introduces us to a Swedish punk legend and To A More Perfect Union: US V Windsorconcludes the story of Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, whose relationship was the subject of the documentary Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement.

The Premieres program includes Hurley, a documentary about 70s racing star Hurley Haywood, whose life was far more complicated than his all-American image suggested; Night Comes On, a drama about a young woman released from juvenile detention on her 18th birthday directed by actor Jordana Spiro, and Skate Kitchen, a drama about a young woman drawn to the skateboarding cliques of New York City from Crystal Moselle, who made her name with the documentary The Wolfpack.

Films in the International Showcase include Anchor And Hope, starring Oona Chaplin and Natalia Tena as an English couple whose happy life is thrown by an unexpected pregnancy; Evening Shadows, Sridhar Rangayan’s drama about a gay Mumbai man who visits his parents in South India to discover they’ve arranged a marriage for him to a childhood friend; How To Talk To Girls At Parties, a sci-fi comedy set in 1977 London from Hedwig And The Angry Inch director John Cameron Mitchell and starring Nicole Kidman and Elle Fanning, and Mr. Gay Syria, a documentary that considers Syria’s refugee crisis through the eyes of its displaced LGBTQ citizens.

Inside Out runs from May 24 to June 3 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. For full details and schedule, visit the festival website.

SxSW 2018 Interview: Meet the team from the Canadian Short WE FORGOT TO BREAK UP!

By: Jason Whyte | Posted on March 9, 2018

“What if you created a band with your best friends, fell in love with the lead guitarist, led the band to superstardom, and then you wrote a memoir explaining why you had to break up with them?” Producer Nicole Hilliard-Forde on WE FORGOT TO BREAK UP which screens at SxSW Film 2018. Also joining Nicole in this interview is lead Steven McCarthy & cinematographer Cabot McNenly.

Thrilled to be heading back to AUSTIN, TEXAS with WE FORGOT TO BREAK UP in Narrative Shorts Competition @SXSW #sxsw Thanks @claudasaur @ForgotToBreakUp

SXSW Film Festival Announces Isle of Dogs as Closing Night Film and 2018 Midnighters, Shorts, VR, Inaugural Independent Episodics and More

We are pleased to announce the remainder of the SXSW Film Festival program including the Midnighters, Shorts, Virtual Cinema, Music Video, Title Sequence, and new Independent Episodic lineup, plus late-addition Features and the Closing Night Film for the 25th edition of the Festival.

The North American premiere of Wes Anderson’s highly-anticipated Isle of Dogswill close the 2018 Festival. The film tells the story of Atari Kobayashi, 12-year-old ward to corrupt Mayor Kobayashi. When, by executive decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage dump, Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies to Trash Island in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. There, with the assistance of a pack of newly-found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture. The film features an all star cast including Bryan CranstonKoyu RankinEdward NortonBob BalabanBill MurrayJeff GoldblumKunichi NomuraAkira TakayamaGreta GerwigFrances McDormandAkira ItoScarlett JohanssonHarvey KeitelF. Murray AbrahamYoko OnoTilda SwintonKen WatanabeMari NatsukiFisher StevensNijiro MurakamiLiev Schreiber, and Courtney B. Vance.

The SXSW Midnighters section is a perennial favorite for SXSW audiences thrilled by the weird, electric, and sometimes terrifying selections. Featuring 10 genre films, including 6 World Premieres, the slate includes dark comedies, thrillers, Sci-Fi, mystery and slasher horror from a mix of established and first-time filmmakers. The Midnighters, as well as 12 additional films, which are included in the 132 total features now to be screened at the SXSW 2018 Film Festival.

“It is the highlight of my year to get to dive into the yearly pool of genre film submissions and see what wild and devilish ideas these filmmakers have brought to life,” said Jarod Neece, SXSW Senior Film Programmer. “This year’s Midnighters, made both by veteran filmmakers and many first-timers, are sure to delight and terrify lucky SXSW audiences. And if they can survive the onslaught they will be treated to the fantastical world of Wes Anderson’s latest stop-motion masterpiece, SXSW Closing Night Film Isle of Dogs.”

118 short films, independent episodics, and music videos were selected from 5,410 submissions. A comprehensive list of the Short Film Program is below and will screen as part of 12 curated shorts programs.

“After five years of breaking ground in our Episodic section, we’re thrilled to incorporate the exceptional work happening in the Independent Episodics space and welcome more of those creators into our community this year,” said Claudette Godfrey, Senior Film Programmer. “Year after year, I get fired up and inspired by the sense of discovery and boundary pushing in our shorts program, and we’re especially proud that over half of the films across our Shorts Programs, Music Videos, and Independent Episodics are directed by women.”


Narrative Shorts

A selection of original, well-crafted films that take advantage of the short form and exemplify distinctive and genuine storytelling.

Allen Anders – Live at the Comedy Castle (circa 1987)
Director: Laura Moss, Screenwriter: Tony Grayson
Footage of Allen Anders famed 1987 performance at the Comedy Castle.

Are We Good Parents? (World Premiere)
Director: Bola Ogun, Screenwriters: Hailey Chavez and (story by) Bola Ogun
When Lauren and Bill’s 14-year-old daughter says she’s going to her first dance with her classmate Ryan, they question their preconceived notions of her sexuality and their openness as parents.

The Big Day (World Premiere) (United Kingdom)
Director: Dawn Shadforth, Screenwriter: Kellie Smith
Jess is super excited to attend her step-sister’s wedding and truly become part of the family, but after only recently finding out about her existence, her stepfamily are less than delighted about her presence on the big day.

Brian and Charles (United Kingdom)
Director: Jim Archer, Screenwriters: David Earl, Chris Hayward
A comedy about two friends who share a cottage in the English countryside. Brian is a poorly groomed, gravelly voiced farmer who struggles with depression and loneliness. Charles is a robot.

Caroline (World Premiere)
Directors: Logan George, Celine Held
When plans fall through, a six-year-old is faced with a big responsibility on a hot Texas day.

Carro (World Premiere) (Brazil, United States)
Director/Screenwriter: Gustavo Rosa
An undocumented Brazilian immigrant living in the Boston area decides to buy a car in an effort to better his life before returning home.

Director: Carey Williams, Screenwriter: K.D. Dávila
Faced with an emergency, a group of young Black and Latino friends weigh the pros and cons of calling the police.

Guilt (World Premiere) (Mexico)
Director/Screenwriter: Moisés Aisemberg
Guilt is a direct window into the undeniable violence experienced by children today and the involuntary repression that they must undergo within a society that tolerates abuse.

Haven (North American Premiere) (Canada)
Director/Screenwriter: Kelly Fyffe-Marshall
When a little girl finds solace in between her mother’s legs, biggest fears become reality.

Intercourse (North American Premiere) (Sweden)
Director/Screenwriter: Jonatan Etzler
“I’ll give you 100 bucks” he suggests, and jokingly she agrees, and neither of them see the gravity of the situation. When a sexual boundary is crossed and the balance of power is shifted – what will happen to their peaceful and normal relationship?

Jay-Z – ‘Moonlight’
Director/Screenwriter: Alan Yang
The One Where No One’s Ready.

Kimchi (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Jackson Kiyoshi Segars
As his family argues about his end-of-life care, an elderly Korean man reflects on his life with a stranger.

Kira Burning (World Premiere) Director/Screenwriter: Laurel Akira Parmet
Teenage Kira attempts to take revenge after a heartbreaking betrayal by her ex-best friend.

Director: Danny Madden, Screenwriters: Danny Madden, Will Madden
In a high school theater class, Krista uses her scene study as catharsis.

Men Don’t Whisper
Director: Jordan Firstman, Screenwriters: Charles Rogers, Jordan FIrstman
After being emasculated at a sales conference, gay couple Reese and Peyton set out to do the most masculine thing they can think of – sleep with some women.

Pink Trailer (North American Premiere)
Director: Mary Neely, Screenwriters: Macey Isaacs, Jenny Leiferman
Best friends Lucy and Julie are spending their summer hiding from a terrorizing neighbor until Lucy runs out of her antidepressant, and they’re forced to fight for their lives.

Shiva Baby (World Premiere) (Canada)
Director/Screenwriter: Emma Seligman
At a Jewish funeral service with her parents, a college student runs into her sugar daddy.

Tangles and Knots (Australia)
Director: Renée Marie Petropoulos
An intimate, unique bond between mother and daughter becomes threatened when the mother helps her teenage daughter throw a party to impress new, more popular friends.

The Things You Think I’m Thinking (Canada)
Director: Sherren Lee, Screenwriter: Jesse LaVercombe
A black male burn-survivor and amputee goes on a date with a regularly-abled man.

Tooth and Nail (U.S. Premiere)
Director: Sara Shaw, Screenwriters: Sara Shaw, Amanda Verwey
A sister makes a bargain with her terminally ill brother. He agrees to let her use his sperm for future use with a partner if she comes out to her family that night.

We Forgot to Break Up (U.S. Premiere)(Canada)
Director: Chandler Levack, Screenwriters: Steven McCarthy, Chandler Levack
After a few years absence, Evan unexpectedly returns one night to face his now-famous former bandmates. The surprise reunion is bittersweet, in this intimate depiction of the knotty complexities of relating to old friends after everything has changed.

Wren Boys (United Kingdom)
Director: Harry Lighton, Screenwriters: Harry Lighton, John Fitzpatrick
On the day after Christmas, a Catholic priest from Cork drives his nephew to prison.


TIFF MEMBER premieres A Fantastic Woman preceded by We Forgot to Break Up

Each month, a New Release title is screened exclusively for TIFF Members ahead of its run at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Member Premiere screenings include an introduction by a special guest, bringing your in-cinema experience to life!

Join us for this special Member Premiere screening of Sebastián Lelio's A Fantastic Woman on Thursday, January 25 at 7pm, preceded by Chandler Levack's short film We Forgot to Break Up. Levack and star Jesse Todd will join us for a post-film Q&A following A Fantastic Woman. On sale to TIFF Members January 17.

Take advantage of your Member discount for up to four tickets and bring your friends! Not a Member? Join today at


Actors at Subtitle International Film Festival Get an Experience Like No Other

By Elyse Roth with additional reporting by Hannah Marie Williams | Posted Nov. 30, 2017, 8:30 a.m.

While Americans were celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday last week, 82 casting directors, 51 actors, agents, and more descended on Kilkenny, Ireland for the Subtitle Film Festival, an industry event unlike any other.

At its core, Subtitle is exactly what it’s called—a film festival. It’s a collection of non-English language films (hence the name) from all across Europe, featuring actors and casting directors from more than 10 countries. They’re not films that will be breaking box office records or making the awards show rounds, necessarily. They are carefully chosen, and their inclusion in the festival ensures that casting directors get to see work from actors, directors, and other casting directors that isn’t given the worldwide press attention bigger budget films receive.

Although the festival ends with an awards ceremony, the focus is less on winning or competition and much less on films than other festivals. There are no sales agents, and no deals looking to be made. Instead, attendees, who are brought in on the dime of festival creator and coordinator Richard Cook (who is also an agent in Ireland), are treated to a social atmosphere and encouraged to mix and mingle. It’s an audience made up of more casting directors than actors, with some agents thrown into the mix, and one of the most unique features built in comes in the form of a type of actor-casting director speed dating.

A few hours are set aside on Friday through Sunday for small groups of casting directors to sit down with actors individually for 10 minutes at a time. This gives casting directors from all over the world the opportunity to meet each other and see how other professionals work while getting to know an actor on a personal level without the pressure of an audition or an agent-organized meeting. “Our “industry” is comprised of European actors meeting casting directors from all over the world in an informal, relaxed setting,” Cook told Backstage via email. “This year, we set 1,056 meetings making it the biggest casting event in the world. There were 51 actors and 82 casting directors, so it was a big step up for us.”

Many of these actors are stars of art house–type films that don’t focus on the structure and tidy conclusions so often found in American box office hits. They’re stories that prove filmmaking and film, in general, is a global business and craft—and that different countries approach cinema in different ways. Cook selects the films featured in the festival, and invites the actors involved, and at times not involved in the selections to take part in a week of networking.

What started with 12 casting directors six years ago has grown to 82 from 12 countries. Twenty of those this year were American casting directors in attendance to meet with these international actors to expand their networks and learn about them beyond their acting resume. Especially now that Casting Society of America has an official European presence with their London headquarters, U.K. and European actors and casting directors have the opportunity to be part of a larger network. Meeting people through events like Subtitle help them grow that and discover talent they wouldn’t on a typical workday. “I’m really thrilled with the evolution of Subtitle as a festival and this year we sold over 3,000 tickets to subtitled European films, including 14 Irish premieres,” says Cook.

Overall it was an opportunity for actors and casting directors from countries of all sizes to enjoy the work of others in their field while getting to meet the faces behind that work. It was a chance for smaller scale actors and the casting directors who cast them to raise their profile and celebrate their work amongst others who can appreciate what they do. And the festival ended with Cook’s seal of approval, “I couldn’t be happier or prouder of how the 2017 edition unfolded.”

Whistler Film Festival announces its 2017 line up including WE FORGOT TO BREAK UP

Award season frontrunner DARKEST HOUR and THE MOMENT bookend festival Western Canadian Premieres include DISASTER ARTIST and I, TONYA. 18 World Premieres plus $146,500 in cash and prizes. Media Release (11/01/2017) Whistler, BC: The 17th annual Whistler Film Festival (WFF), taking place from November 29 to December 3, announced today its opening and closing night films and full program lineup. With more than 1,000 submissions, festival goers can look forward to 87 fresh films (46 features and 41 shorts) from over 15 countries, including leading award season fare, meritable Canadian content and more female directed films than ever before. 'Canada's Coolest Film Fest' remains true to its mandate of discovering new talent, with the inclusion of 16 first time feature films, 14 feature films directed by women (representing 30% of this year's feature film programming), and with 67% of its program premiering Canadian features - which is more than any other international Canadian film festival. Plus, WFF's juries feature some of the industry's top talent, who will award $146,500 in cash prizes and commissions.

Touted as one of this year's Best Actor and Picture Oscar front-runners, WFF is set to open with Joe Wright's DARKEST HOUR, starring Gary Oldman and Lily James, sponsored by Jackson Triggs. Endorsed by Winston Churchill's estate, the film tells the story of Churchill's refusal to engage in peace treaty negotiations with Nazi Germany during WWII, and his determination to fight on against incredible odds. Closing the festival is the World Premiere of THE MOMENT. Darcy Hennessey Turenne's latest documentary feature uncovers the origin of Freeride Mountain Biking and its provenance in British Columbia by following a dedicated group of adventure seekers who changed the course of the sport forever.

Oscar-contending films screening at WFF include the Western Canadian premieres of I, TONYA, one of the most pleasant surprises of this year's festival season about disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding, directed by Craig Gillespie and starring Margot Robbie; THE DISASTER ARTIST, directed and starring James Franco along with Dave Franco, tells the true-life story of Tommy Wiseau, Hollywood outsider and director of the cult-hit THE ROOM, which will also debut as the "From the Vault" selection; and Canada's entry in this year's Best Foreign-Language film Oscar competition HOCHELAGALAND OF SOULS directed by François Girard.

Additional critically acclaimed directors with works premiering in the festival include Richard Linklater, with LAST FLAG FLYING starring Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell and Laurence Fishburne, about three ex-marines who reunite thirty years after the Vietnam War; Émile Gaudreault with FATHER AND GUNS 2 (DE PÉRE EN FLIC 2), Canada's highest grossing film of the year; Oscar Winner Mike Van Diem with the Netherlands, Italy, Canada co-production TULIPANI: LOVE, HONOUR, AND A BICYCLE; and acclaimed Canadian documentarian Alan Zweig with his latest film THERE IS A HOUSE HERE, about an Inuk rock singer Lucie Idlout.

Director of Programming Paul Gratton stated: "It is gratifying to see that the Whistler Film Festival's ever growing reputation as a cool film festival in which to showcase original work is growing well beyond our borders. The quality of our American Indie submissions was way up this year, as was the quality of our hundreds of Canadian entries. The Borsos jury will have a particularly challenging time picking the winners this year."

Programming strands include American Indies, Canada 150, Contenders, Doc Bloc, Family Feature, First Features, From Overseas, From The Vault, Mountain Culture, ShortWork, Transgressive Tales, and World Premieres.

This year WFF is proud to boast that all five films in its "American Indies" strand will grace Canadian screens for the first time in Whistler. American Indies include STORY OF A GIRL, the directorial debut from Kyra Sedgwick starring Kevin and Sosie Bacon; THE BALLAD OF LEFTY BROWN starring Bill Pullman directed by Jared Moshe; THE LEARS directed by longtime Whistler Alumnus and Canadian filmmaker Carl Bessai starring Bruce Dern, Sean Astin and Anthony Michael Hall; NEVER HERE directed by Camille Thoman starring the late Sam Shepard in his last performance on screen; and PAINLESS directed by Jordan Horowitz starring Canadian actor Joey Klein. Other American films include PERMISSION directed by Brian Crano starring Rebecca Hall, Dan Stevens and Jason Sudeikis; BERNARD AND HUEYdirected by Slamdance Founder Dan Mirvish with the original script written by the legendary Jules Feiffer; and HEAVEN'S FLOOR directed by Lori Stoll based on the true story of a LA photographer who heads to Iqualuit for a shoot. And it's not just Americans are entrusting WFF with their Canadian premieres. From Hungary, WFF is proud to present Eva Gardos' Chinatown style film noir set in Budapest during the early years of World War II. BUDAPEST NOIR is the story of an investigator trying to uncover the truth about a prostitute's murder, though no one around him seems to care.

Cinematic excellence remains at the heart of the Whistler Film Festival. To recognize the vitality of this art form, films are carefully programmed and slotted into seven juried sections. This year, WFF will present 14 film awards, with over $146,500 in cash and prizing ($31,500 cash and $115,000 in prizes) that include:

  • The Borsos Award for Best Canadian Feature ($15,000) - Presented in association with Telefilm Canada and sponsored by the Directors Guild of Canada, British Columbia and $15,000 Post Production Prize sponsored by Encore, along with awards for Best Director also sponsored by the Directors Guild of Canada, British Columbia, Best Performance, Best Screenplay, and Best Cinematography sponsored by the International Cinematographers Guild, IATSE Local 669
  • World Documentary Award
  • Mountain Culture Award presented by Whistler Blackcomb
  • International ShortWork Award
  • Canadian ShortWork Award ($1,000 cash award)
  • BC Student ShortWork Award ($500 cash award)
  • MPPIA Short Film Award ($15,000 cash award plus up to $100,000 in production services) presented by MPPIA and Creative BC
  • The Alliance of Women Female Journalists (AWFJ) EDA Awards for Best Female-Directed Narrative Feature and Best Female-Directed Short Film
  • Audience Award (to be announced on December 4)

To best honour the wealth of Canadian filmmaking talent, WFF opened up the Borsos Competition for Best Canadian Feature two years ago to all Canadian dramatic features making their Western Canadian Premiere at the festival. This year, 20 Canadian films will compete for Canada's second largest festival prize. Borsos titles include eight World Premieres featuring work from WFF Alumni including Pat Kiely with SOMEONE ELSE'S WEDDING starring Jacob Tierney, Jessica Paré, Jessica Parker Kennedy, Kevin Zegers, Kathleen Turner and Wallace Shawn; PRODIGALS directed by Michelle Ouellet starring Sara Canning and David Alpay; Jackie English's first feature BECOMING BURLESQUE about a Muslim woman who turns to burlesque dancing starring Shiva Negar; Gail Harvey's crime thriller NEVER SAW IT COMING based on the novel by Linwood Barclay; NOBODY FAMOUSdirected by Sarah Rotella; plus three features from Vancouver based directors including 8 MINUTES AHEAD by Ben Hoskyn shot over the course of four years in Vancouver and China; THE PRODIGAL DAD, a home-grown sort of Toni Erdmann directed by Robert Wenzek; and THE CANNON directed by WFF Alumni Marshall Axani, who won the inaugural MPPIA Short Film Award.

Canadian premieres in the Borsos competition include Hannah Cheesman and Mackenzie Donaldson's coming of age story, THE DEFINITES, Daniel DiMarco's atmospheric character study JUGGERNAUT starring Jack Kesy and Amanda Crew, and the family friendly Christmas story SANTA STOLE OUR DOG: A MERRY DOGGONE CHRISTMAS starring Ed Asner from DIY master Bryan Michael Stoller.

Western Canadian premieres in the Borsos Competition include Carlos and Jason Sanchez's first time feature A WORTHY COMPANION starring Evan Rachel Wood and Vancouver's Julia Sarah Stone produced by the TIFF Canadian producers of the year, Luc Déry and Kim McCraw, ALL YOU CAN EAT BUDDHA the original and rhythmic visual buffet from first time director Ian Lagarde, Grayson Moore and Aidan Shipley's drama CARDINALS featuring an unforgettable performance from Sheila McCarthy, Vladimir de Fontenay's Canada/France co-production MOBILE HOMES starring Imogen Poots, Callum Keith Rennie and Callum Turner, TRENCH 11 an unusual WWI dark thriller starring Rossif Sutherland, the comedic drama VENUS about a man transitioning to a woman, and PORCUPINE LAKE, a beloved coming of age story about two best friends directed by DIY queen Ingrid Veninger. Also screening alongside PORCUPINE LAKE is the making of documentary feature THE OTHER SIDE OF PORCUPINE LAKE directed by Julian Papas.

Other Canadian films screening at the festival out of competition include ANOTHER WOLFCOP directed by Lowell Dean, the hilarious sex comedy A SWINGERS WEEKENDdirected by Jonathan Cohen, and the original crime drama ORDINARY DAYS shot in three segments by three directors Jordan Canning, Kris Booth and Renuka Jeyapalan.

In addition to the World Premiere of THE MOMENT which closes the fest, Mountain Culture films include A TO B ROLLERSKI directed by Arnis Aspers about an athlete who "rollerskis" from the Arctic to Baja, DEPTH PERCEPTION the latest brainchild of Travis Rice directed by Chip Taylor and Chris Murphy accompanied by the short series SOMETHING from The Manboys as well as compilation of short mountain based films from some of the industry's finest athletes and storytellers.

This year's Doc Bloc competition features a very diverse film line-up. In keeping with the theme of emerging talent, WFF is pleased to present the World Premiere of BECOMING ICONIC, Neal Thibedeau's incisive look at aspiring New York based director Jonathan Barker's first feature with Nicolas Cage, Gina Gershon and Faye Dunaway, and interviews with such directing legends as Adrian Lyne, John Badham, Jodie Foster and Taylor Hackford about their first time on set as directors. Additional films in this section include WORLD OF DARKNESS, a detailed look at the history and evolution of one the most popular goth lifestyle games of all time, will receive its Canadian Premiere at our fest; and THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ANDRÉ, a probing biodoc of André Leon Talley, former editor of Vogue Magazine, featuring interviews with everyone from Anna Wintour to Tom Ford.

WFF's Borsos Competition for Best Canadian Feature jury is made up of a diverse group of Canadian storytellers all of who have had films at our festival. This year's jury includes Montreal born producer Sylvain Corbeil whose credits include the award winning films of Denis Côté and Xavier Dolan such as IT'S ONLY THE END OF THE WORLD and MOMMY, which both received the 2016 and 2014 Grand Jury Prize at Festival de Cannes, as well as FÉLIX AND MEIRA which dominated the WFF Borsos Competition in 2014; B.C. based actress and WFF Star to Watch Alumni Camille Sullivan who attended Whistler in 2015 as the lead in THE BIRDWATCHER as well as in 2014 with ALLY WAS SCREAMING and won the UBCP/ACTRA award for both performances. She most recently starred alongside Peter Coyote and Aden Young in the hit television show, The Disappearance; and lastly celebrated Canadian director Charles Officer whose early feature NURSE.FIGHTER.BOY premiered at Whistler in 2008 and garnered 10 Genie nominations. His latest documentary UNARMED VERSES premiered to major acclaim at Hot Docs 2017 where it won Best Canadian Feature Documentary award and most recently won the Best Canadian Documentary award at Vancouver International Film Festival.

The World Documentary jury includes Vic Sarin, one of Canada's most celebrated filmmakers, earning recognition as one of Canada's premier cinematographers. As a director, Sarin has won recognition for feature films such as PARTITION, A SHINE OF RAINBOWS and COLD COMFORT and documentaries SUCH AS; BOY FROM GEITA, HUE: A MATTER OF COLOUR, DESERT RIDERS and most recently KEEPERS OF THE MAGIC. Also on this year's jury are two Americans Jill Friedberg a Seattle-based documentary filmmaker who has produced and edited the award-winning documentaries, THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE, SWEET CRUDE and UN POQUITO DE TANTA VERDAD; and Michael Dougherty, Head of Acquisitions at Radiant Films International in Los Angeles, who is also an associate programmer at AFI Fest and Head Programmer for the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles.

The Mountain Culture jury includes BC-based filmmakers and athletes, Jeff Thomas, Director of Video Production at Origin Design & Communications and a producer of multiple award winning outdoor and adventure films, beloved Whistler local, comedy, writer, director, editor and actor Kyle Killeen who is a three time finalist for the 72 hour Filmmaker Showdown, and Katie Burrell, a stand-up comedian and filmmaker with one filter - satire.

The ShortWork Jury includes director and WFF Alumni Grayson Moore (winner of WFF's 2014 Best Canadian ShortWork Award for RUNNING SEASON and co-director of CARDINALS, receiving its Western Canadian Premiere at WFF 2017), Founder and Executive Director of First Weekend Club Anita Adams, and Jeremy Torrie, Director/Writer/Producer and President of High Definition Pictures Inc.

EDA Awards will be presented for Best Female-Directed Narrative Feature and for Best Female-Directed Short Film. Eligible female-directed films are being screened as part of the festival's regular program, and are being nominated for EDA Awards consideration by Whistler Film Festival's administration and programmers. The Narrative feature jury includes: Marina Antunes - Row Three, Vancouver; Nikki Baughan - Screen International, London; Betsy Boszdech - Commonsense Media, San Francisco; Jennifer Merin (Chair) - Cinema Citizen; New York, Gill Pringle - The Independent, Los Angeles; Short Film Jury includes: Katherine Brodsky (Chair) - Variety, Vancouver; Lexi Feinberg - Big Picture, Big Sound, Berkeley; Karen Martin - Arkansas Online, Little Rock; Diana Saenger - East County Gazette, San Diego; and Susan Wloszczyna -, Washington, DC.

The 11th annual MPPIA Short Film Award will take place on December 2, presented by MPPIA, Creative BC, and sponsored by Bridge Studios. Five shortlisted candidates will pitch their projects before a jury of three industry professionals and an audience. The winner will be awarded with $15,000 cash plus $100,000 worth of services in kind from across the industry including mentorship, production services and equipment supplies enabling them to complete their project. The completed screen will have its world premiere at the 2018 Whistler Film Festival. The 2017 MPPIA jury include Writer and Director Eisha Marjara(attending with VENUS, WFF's 2015 Power Pitch winning project which is receiving it's Western Canadian Premiere at WFF 2017); Jameson Parker, Director of Development at Brightlight Pictures (Producer, Actor in PRODIGALS, receiving its World Premiere at WFF 2017); and Producer, Peter Harvey (attending with THE CANNON which is receiving its World Premiere and MOBILE HOMES, receiving its Western Canadian Premiere at WFF 2017. The moderator for the pitch session will be Kendrie Upton, Executive Director, Directors Guild of Canada, British Columbia.

From November 29 to December 3, the Whistler Film Festival will welcome film fans and filmmakers to experience its 17th edition featuring innovative and inspiring films, special guests, epic events, unique industry and talent programs, and time to play in North America's premier mountain resort. The Whistler Film Festival combines an international film competition with a focused Industry Summit dedicated to the art and business of filmmaking in the digital age. Featuring innovative and thought provoking films from around the world and opportunities to connect with the people who made them, this year's fest will be filled with a solid lineup of premieres, honoured guests, lively celebrations, and unique industry initiatives.

WFF's Industry Summit schedule and guest lineup are now available at, and will be updated regularly. WFF's full film lineup and schedule is now available online on November 1, and Signature Series honourees will be announced in November.

The Festival's online box office at is now open for VIP Patron Passes, Industry Passes and Ticket Packages. Single film and event tickets go on sale on November 15 (until December 3). The Festival Box Office is open for phone sales (1-877-838-FILM) and on November 24 for walk-up sales.

Air travel and ground transportation deals as well as best accommodation rates are now available on WFF has 20 accommodation partners to choose from including host hotel, the Westin Whistler Resort and Spa and VIP hotel the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Resort.

The Whistler Film Festival is funded by the Government of Canada through Telefilm Canada and Western Economic Diversification, and by the Province of British Columbia, Creative BC and the Resort Municipality of Whistler, is supported by the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation and the American Friends of Whistler, and is sponsored by The Harold Greenberg Fund, the Canadian Media Producers Association, Cineplex, Whistler Blackcomb, Gibbons Whistler, Tourism Whistler and the Westin Resort & Spa Whistler.

- 30 -

Media inquiries, please contact: 
Jacki St. Thomas | Account Executive I Jive Communications | 310.625.7799

The Whistler Film Festival Society is a charitable cultural organization dedicated to furthering the art of film by providing programs that focus on the discovery, development and promotion of new talent culminating with a must attend festival for artists, industry and audiences in Whistler. Find out more at 


World Premieres (11): 

8 MINUTES AHEAD (Canada, China) Dir. Ben Hoskyn
BECOMING BURLESQUE (Canada) Dir. Jackie English
BECOMING ICONIC (United States) Dir. Neal Thibedeau
THE MOMENT (Canada) Dir. Darcy Hennessey Turenne
NEVER SAW IT COMING (Canada) Dir. Gail Harvey
NOBODY FAMOUS (Canada) Dir. Sarah Rotella
THE PRODIGAL DAD (Canada) Dir. Robert Wenzek
PRODIGALS (Canada) Dir. Michelle Ouellet
THE CANNON (Canada) Dir. Marshall Axani

Canadian Premieres (12): 

A TO B ROLLERSKI (Latvia, United States, Canada, Mexico) Dir. Arnis Aspers
THE BALLAD OF LEFTY BROWN (United States) Dir. Jared Moshe
BUDAPEST NOIR (Hungary) Dir Éva Gárdos
THE DEFINITES (Canada) Dir. Hannah Cheesman & Mackenzie Donaldson
JUGGERNAUT (Canada) Dir. Daniel DiMarco
THE LEARS (United States, Canada) Dir. Carl Bessai
NEVER HERE (United States) Dir. Camille Thoman
PAINLESS (United States) Dir. Jordan Horowitz
PERMISSION (United States) Dir. Brian Crano
STORY OF A GIRL (United States) Dir. Kyra Sedgwick
WORLD OF DARKNESS (Sweden) Dir. Giles Alderson

English Canadian Premieres (2): 

FATHER AND GUNS 2 (DE PÉRE EN FLIC 2) (Canada) Dir. Émile Gaudreault
VENUS (Canada) Dir. Eisha Marjara

Western Canadian Premieres (15): 

A WORTHY COMPANION (Canada) Dir. Carlos Sanchez & Jason Sanchez
ALL YOU CAN EAT BUDDHA (Canada) Dir. Ian Legarde
ANOTHER WOLFCOP (Canada) Dir. Lowell Dean
BERNARD AND HUEY (United States) Dir. Dan Mirvish
CARDINALS (Canada) Dir. Aidan Shipley & Grayson Moore
DARKEST HOUR (United Kingdom) Dir Joe Wright
THE DISASTER ARTIST (United States) Dir. James Franco
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ANDRÉ (United States) Dir. Kate Novack
I, TONYA (United States) Dir. Craig Gillespie
MOBILE HOMES (Canada, France) Dir. Vladimir de Fontenay
PORCUPINE LAKE (Canada) Dir. Ingrid Veninger
THERE IS A HOUSE HERE (Canada) Dir. Alan Zweig
TRENCH 11 (Canada) Dir. Leo Scherman

British Columbia Premieres (3): 

A SWINGERS WEEKEND (Canada) Dir. Jonathan Cohen
HEAVEN'S FLOOR (Canada, United States) Dir. Lori Stoll
ORDINARY DAYS (Canada) Dir. Jordan Canning, Kris Booth, Renuka Jeyapalan

Whistler Premieres (3): 

DEPTH PERCEPTION (Canada) Dir. Chip Taylor & Chris Murphy
LAST FLAG FLYING (United States) Dir. Richard Linklater
THE ROOM (United States) Dir. Tommy Wiseau


American Indies: 

THE BALLAD OF LEFTY BROWN (United States) Dir. Jared Moshe
THE LEARS (Canada, United States) Dir. Carl Bessai
NEVER HERE (United States) Dir. Camille Thoman
PAINLESS (United States) Dir. Jordan Horowitz
STORY OF A GIRL (United States) Dir. Kyra Sedgwick

Canada 150: 

ANOTHER WOLFCOP (Canada) Dir. Lowell Dean
FATHER AND GUNS 2 (DE PÉRE EN FLIC 2) (Canada) Dir. Émile Gaudreault
HEAVEN'S FLOOR (Canada, United States) Dir. Lori Stoll
JUGGERNAUT (Canada) Dir. Daniel DiMarco
MOBILE HOMES (Canada, France) Dir. Vladimir de Fontenay
ORDINARY DAYS (Canada) Dir. Jordan Canning, Kris Booth, Renuka Jeyapalan
PORCUPINE LAKE (Canada) Dir. Ingrid Veninger
TRENCH 11 (Canada) Dir. Leo Scherman


THE DARKEST HOUR (United Kingdom) Dir. Joe Wright
THE DISASTER ARTIST (United States) Dir. James Franco
I, TONYA (United States) Dir. Craig Gillespie

The Doc Bloc: 

BECOMING ICONIC (United States) Dir. Neal Thibedeau
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ANDRE (United States) Dir. Kate Novack
THERE IS A HOUSE HERE (Canada) Dir. Alan Zweig
WORLD OF DARKNESS (Sweden) Dir. Giles Alderson

Family Feature: 


First Features: 

ALL YOU CAN EAT BUDDHA (Canada) Dir. Ian Lagarde
BECOMING BURLESQUE (Canada) Dir. Jackie English
CARDINALS (Canada) Dir. Aidan Shipley & Grayson Moore
THE DEFINITES (Canada) Dir. Hannah Cheesman & Mackenzie Donaldson

From Overseas: 

BUDAPEST NOIR (Hungary) Dir Éva Gárdos
TULIPANI: LOVE, HONOUR, AND A BICYCLE (Canada, Netherlands, Italy) Dir. Mike Van Diem

From The Vault: 

THE ROOM (United States) Dir. Tommy Wiseau

Mountain Culture: 

A TO B ROLLERSKI (Latvia, United States, Canada, Mexico) Dir. Arnis Aspers
DEPTH PERCEPTION Dir. Chip Taylor & Chris Murphy

Transgressive Tales: 

A SWINGER'S WEEKEND (Canada) Dir. Jonathan Cohen
A WORTHY COMPANION (Canada) Dir. Carlos Sanchez & Jason Sanchez
BERNARD AND HUEY (United States) Dir. Dan Mirvish
THE CANNON (Canada) Dir. Marshall Axani
PERMISSION (United States) Dir. Brian Crano
VENUS (Canada) Dir. Eisha Marjara

World Premieres: 

8 MINUTES AHEAD (Canada, China) Dir. Ben Hoskyn
NEVER SAW IT COMING (Canada) Dir. Gail Harvey
NOBODY FAMOUS (Canada) Dir. Sarah Rotella
PRODIGALS (Canada) Dir. Michelle Ouellet
THE PRODIGAL DAD (Canada) Dir. Robert Wenzek
SOMEONE ELSE'S WEDDING (Canada) Dir. Pat Kiely

WFF 2017 Feature Films Eligible for the Borsos Competition for Best Canadian Feature: 



World Premiere: 

BFF (Canada) Dir. Sofia Auza
GOOD GIRLS DON'T (Canada) Dir. Ana de Lara
MONDAY (Canada) Dir. Liz Levine
NORTH OF NOWHERE (Canada) DIr. Brady Keeler
SOMETHING BY THE MANBOYS (Canada) Dir. Rusty Ockenden
THE STAKEOUT (Canada) Dir. Jax Smith
UP & AWAY (Canada) Dir. Tito Ferradans

North American Premiere: 


Canadian Premiere: 

LOLZITA (Canada) Dir. Katie Boland

Western Canadian Premiere: 

THE BEEP TEST (LA COURSE NAVETTE) (Canada) Dir. Maxime Aubert
THE BURDEN (MIN BÖRDA) (Sweden) Dir. Niki Lindroth von Bahr
THE BUTTERFLY (LA MARIPOSA) (Canada) Dir. Andy Alvarez
COME TO BED (Canada) Dir. Mike Fly
DEAR HATETTS (Canada) Dir. Kerry Barber
DISCO OBU (India) Dir. Anand Kishore
FINDING THE LINE (Australia, Canada) Dir. Bjarne Salén
FLASH FLOOD: A ROTOSCOPED DOCUMENTARY (Canada, United States) Dir. Alli Mackay
FOR NONNA ANNA (Canada) Dir. Luis De Filippis
HOLY ANGELS (Canada) Dir. Jay Cardinal Villeneuve
PRE-DRINK (Canada) Dir. Marc-Antoine Lemire
SHADES OF WINTER: CROSSROADS (Austria) Dir. Sandra Lahnsteiner
UNINTENTIONAL MOTHER (Canada) Dir. Mary Galloway
WAITING FOR LOU (EN ATTENDANT LOU) (Canada) Dir. Katerine Martineau
WE FORGOT TO BREAK UP (Canada) Dir. Chandler Levack

British Columbia Premiere: 

2.5 MILLION (United States) Dir. Tyler-Wilkinson-Ray
A GENTLE NIGHT (XIAO CHENG ER YUE) (China, France) Dir. Qiu Yang
ANIMAL (HEYVAN) (Iran) Dir. Bahram and Bahman Ark
CYPHER (Canada) Dir. Lawrence Le Lam
BECOMING HISTORY - 20 YEARS OF THE NCAF (Canada) Dir. Mike Douglas
THE UNDERTAKER'S SON (Canada) Dir. The Affolter Brothers

Whistler Premiere: 

FEAR US WOMEN (United States) Dir. David Darg
FLOATING LIGHT (Canada) Dir. Natalie Murao
FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH (Canada) Dir. Mike Douglas
IRIDESCENCE (Canada) Dir. Max Beauchamp
LIONS IN WAITING (Canada) Dir. Jason Karman
NEGATIVE SPACE (Canada) Dir. Max Porter and Ru Kuwuhata
TSIKRU (Canada) Dir. Eric Crosland and Tim Symes
VIOLET AND JUNE (Canada) Dir. Linnea Ritland

Are you going to #NewFest2017

NewFest 2017, the 29th annual New York LGBT Film Festival, will take place October 19th – 24th, 2017.

NewFest 2017 will celebrate the year’s best LGBT films from the U.S. and abroad, as well as parties and events bringing filmmakers, movie lovers, and the community together for six days. Presented by HBO and programmed in partnership with Outfest, NewFest’s collection of narratives, documentaries and shorts portrays the diverse and compelling stories from across the LGBT spectrum. NewFest 2017 is a festival that is not to be missed!

Check out this year's slate and get your tickets here

The Curmudgeon of Cinema Himself Gives We Forgot to Break Up 4 Stars - A song will be sung @TIFF2017

The Film Corner with Greg Klymkiw

September 13, 2017

We Forgot To Break Up (2017)
Dir. Chandler Levack
Scr. Steven McCarthy & Levack
Nvl. Kayt Burgess
Starring: Sofia Banzhaf, Cara Gee, Grace Glowicki, Steven McCarthy, Mark Rendall, Dov Tiefenbach, Jesse Todd

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Backstage within a concert venue, a young man hurriedly attempts to pen a note amidst all the accoutrements which suggest that at any point, a soon-to-be-prepping-to-perform band will be filing in. Sure enough, one by one, they do. 

Each time, with each musician, the same thing happens.

At first, the young man is not recognized. Then, he is.

You see, he was, many, many years ago, familiar to all of them - more than familiar, actually, but very, very close. To one of them, he was more intimate than all the rest.

There will be a confrontation. Perhaps even a reckoning.

And there will be a song.

We Forgot To Break Up is a clever, compulsive slice of dramatic life. It builds to a third act that could have, in less skilled creative hands, seemed little more than a glorified music video with an extended preamble. As David Lynch recently proved, week after week in Season 3 of Twin Peaks, there are some final acts that ring-out musically with dramatic/thematic resonance, and do so in ways we seldom see in the movies anymore.

We Forgot To Break Up succeeds in an identical fashion.

It’s a short dramatic film adapted from a novel. Obviously this means that it’s a slice from a much larger work, but happily, the movie feels like a piece unto itself and is bereft of that whiff inherent in short calling-card-styled films meant to announce an eventual feature is round the corner. Though this might indeed be the case here (a short that could become a feature), it's not something that nags at us as the picture unspools. This, is good. So's the film.


We Forgot To Break Up plays at TIFF 2017

Adapting to Brevity: Steven McCarthy on We Forgot to Break Up

Film International

September 16, 2017

By Tom Ue

We Forgot to Break Up is having its world premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Directed by Chandler Levak and written by Steven McCarthy and Levack, the 15-minute short film follows Evan Strocker (Jesse Todd) as he returns to see the band that he has managed following a three-year absence. This absence has seen a change to all of the band members; indeed, Evan is now living as a trans man. Adapted from Kayt Burgess’ novel Heidegger Stairwell, the film features consistently strong performances, both acting and musical. In what follows, I discuss with McCarthy his involvement as writer, musician, and actor in this project. The ElastoCitizens, McCarthy’s ten-piece funk band, are cult favourites on the Toronto music scene. His acclaimed theatre productions such as BlissMalaria Lullaby, and Boblo combined elements of circus, dance, trapeze, and rock and roll. Best known for roles in The Strain, HBO’s Good God, the indie hit Picture Day, and A&E’s The Crossing, he has had the pleasure of working with such directors as Guillermo del Toro, Ken Finkleman, Kate Melville and Robert Harmon. More recently McCarthy starred in Andrew Currie’s ensemble comedy The Steps, sharing the screen with Christine Lahti, James Brolin, Emmanuelle Chriqui and Jason Ritter. In 2015 he wrote and directed his first short film, “O Negative” which has played at festivals all over North America including TIFF, RiverRun, Whistler, Cleveland, Palm Springs, and the Portland International Film Festival. It was named one of Canada’s Top Ten Short Films of 2015 by the TIFF jury and has now been seen all over the world as a Vimeo Staff Pick.

Steven has taught at the Randolph Academy, The National Theatre School, and Ryerson University, and is presently a faculty member at Armstrong Studios. Recently, Canadian Stage Theatre Co. produced his first ever translation, Guillaume Corbeil’s Five Faces for Evelyn Frost. Check out his Web site at

Thank-you so much for an excellent and thought-provoking short film! What attracted you to Kayt Burgess’ novel Heidegger Stairwell?

It was the people involved. Nicole and Matt Hilliard-Forde of Motel Pictures had the rights to the novel and were working on adapting it into a feature. They decided that applying for a Bravo Fact might be a good way to kickstart the project into high gear. They first approached me as an actor and I immediately said yes: I loved the cast they were putting together and the idea of being in a band movie was appealing for lots of reasons. Chandler, the director, and I met up a couple of times to discuss the project and she pitched me the idea of coming onboard as a co-writer and I thought “why not?”

Clearly, much of the novel had to be cut and compressed for this adaptation: what were some of the more important omissions?

This film is basically based on only one scene of the novel. Even this was ambitious for a short film with all of the characters we were writing for. I was less tied to the book than others had been and I proposed that we really blow apart the source material and reduce it to its foundations and then re-build from there. We changed the location and that helped give the scene some reality and some urgency. The main elements are all there but the setting and the characters are all quite different. The fact that we knew which actors we were writing for gave Chandler and I quite a lot of ammunition. We could play to the actor’s strengths and idiosyncracies. We also had a few parties all together at my place and Nicole’s and Matt’s place to get to know each other a bit better and that helped the writing process enormously.

How did the screenplay evolve?

Once we’d ripped the source scene back to its foundations we built from there. Chandler and I would meet in cafes and bars throughout Toronto and it evolved quite naturally. For both of us, this was our first time collaborating on a screenplay so sometimes it was tricky. I proposed making a list of archetypes and traits and re-building the characters with these traits in mind. Who’s the Dad of the band, who’s the middle child who feels neglected, who’s the funny uncle? Who likes to complain and do nothing? Who pairs up for lunches and who stays behind to get work done? Looking at the band as a barely functioning family gave us a lot of good juice to go on. Having been a part of my own band, the ElastoCitizens, for more than a decade I could speak from a fair amount of experience.

So much of the film is communicated through silences and through characters’ trying (and failing) to communicate: what were some of the challenges of writing this dialogue?

The best part of the writing was that, in the end, we knew our scenes were going to be acted by phenomenal actors. So, for me, the most important part was getting the structure right – where does the story need to take place? Who wants what from whom? What’s in their way? What are they afraid of people knowing? What are they hoping for? How does one scene build upon another? Once that’s accomplished the rest is just window dressing. We got great feedback from the actors and used it to make the scenes more action-based and less writery. Jesse Todd, our lead, approached me about one scene that was particularly tricky and we were able to have a workshop at my house where we let he and Mark Rendall improvise based on the given circumstances of the scene we’d written. From watching what they did, we were able to throw out the script and create an entirely new one. We also had a rehearsal day the day before we shot and just listening to the actors read is huge – you learn what works rhythmically and what’s holding them up. Actors’ instincts are amazing. I think the key to filmmaking is knowing how to trust your collaborators and those jam sessions were a great example of that.

We know that Evan wrote a memoir, but we don’t know what approach he took (i.e. whether this would be a revenge story or a more factual one): what do you imagine he wrote and why?

I don’t think it would be about revenge. But any memoir, by its very nature, is going to be subjective. I thought a lot about what it might feel like to have the story of your band told by someone else, about the power of the printed word, and the hurt feelings and arguments that would ensue. I think the film is more powerful because the band is reacting to the fact of the book before they’ve even read it, and reacting to Evan’s return, and what it might mean for each of them, in the fragile place that they’re in as a group.

What attracted you to your character Augus?

Like I said, I’m the lead singer and manager of a ten-piece funk band with ten good friends, some of whom I’ve been friends with since we were kids growing up in Sault Ste. Marie. This film and this role was a natural fit for me. This is the second time I’ve written a role for myself but of course it’s quite different from “O Negative.” But yes, I’ve been the guy holding the door to the rehearsal hall open when people show up two hours late; I’ve been the guy putting up posters on Queen at 3 am only to see them torn down a half hour later; I’ve had these arguments and these reunions, these reconciliations. Creating something with people you love is hard work but it teaches you a lot about humility and a lot about communication. That’s what I wanted to bring to Angus: The weight of that responsibility. Bands and groups of all types have weird dynamics, and decisions get made in all sorts of ways. I wanted to show someone who felt that a lot of that weight rested on his shoulders, and who maybe wished it didn’t.

The performance looks and sounds wonderful. How did you decide on the band’s sound?

The director’s favourite band as a teenager was the Dears and so our incredible music director Michael Perlmutter reached out to Murray Lightburn, their lead singer, to see if he would write the title song for us. He said yes! More than that, he ended up coming in from Montreal and coaching us on our rehearsal day. Most of us played the instruments we play in the film already, but he gave us some amazing insight into the ups and downs of a successful indie band. We worked the song at a music jam space and then headed down to the phenomenal Orange Lounge recording studio on Queen West to record the vocals. It was a great way for us all to get to know each other and a real thrill for me to sing his song.

What’s next for this short film?

For that you’ll have to ask Motel Pictures. My job is done!

Have you thought about adapting this into a feature?

They already have plans to create a full-length film, that’s been their plan all along.

What’s next for you?

I’m just about to shoot a guest-starring role on Frankie Drake – a brand new series produced by Shaftesbury. I’m acting in a couple of other shorts this fall and doing a play as well. I’m also working on my own screenplay, a feature version of my short that played at TIFF a couple of years back.

Tom Ue was educated at Linacre College, University of Oxford, and at University College London, where he has worked from 2011 to 2016. His PhD examined Shakespeare’s influence on the writing of George Gissing. Ue has held visiting fellowships at Indiana University, Yale University, and the University of Toronto Scarborough, and he was the 2011 Cameron Hollyer Memorial Lecturer. He has published widely on Gissing, Conan Doyle, E. W. Hornung, and their contemporaries. Ue is the Frederick Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English at the University of Toronto Scarborough and an Honorary Research Associate at University College London.

Chandler Levack on Her New TIFF Short & the Importance of Telling Trans Stories

“It’s a constant renegotiation of who you are,” says Chandler Levack. The 30-year old Toronto native—whose short film, We Forgot to Break Up, premiered at TIFF this past Sunday—was talking about the moment when the film’s protagonist, Evan (played by Jesse Todd), once a woman, returns to an old group of friends to reintroduce themself as a man.

Evan’s coming out and the consequent reactions from his old bandmates consume all 15 minutes of We Forgot to Break Up, which was adapted from the novel Heidegger’s Stairwell by Kayt BurgessBut, despite being a short, the film is a poignant display of the complex, layered relationships between ex-lovers and old friends. FLARE talked to the director about what it was like to adapt a short film from a novel and the crucial need for the telling of trans stories, now more than ever.

Was staying faithful to the book important to you? 

Yes, but this is an interesting question because the book chronicles this band from when they meet in high school to when they’re in their 40s. There’s a lot of backstory and lots of layered character arcs that I wanted to remain faithful to. I really loved the core relationship—the breakup between Evan and Lou—and the atmosphere of being backstage before a show. At the same time, when you’re telling a story in such a short amount of time, with such a contained scene, it’s hard to put all that in.

Aside from length, what’s different about the film in comparison to the novel? 

The scene I adapted is the very first scene in the novel, but in the book, it takes place in a very fancy hotel room and there are tons of people hanging out backstage, so it’s a really different atmosphere. I wanted to show this band as grubby. In the book, they’re supposed to be internationally famous rockstars, but to make them more relatable, I wanted to make them a mid-level working band just trying to survive. In the book, Evan is this very fancy, renegade journalist traveling the world, and I thought, “Let’s just make him a regular person.” It was about taking parts of the book that were great in the original conceit of it, but then trying to make it more relatable and grounded in the kinds of bands that I know.

How did you conceptualize what the band would be like on screen? 

It was an interesting challenge—the book hints at what the band sounds like and the band’s aesthetic, but when you’re building a rock band from scratch, it was really cool and interesting to think about what this rock band was about. Murray Lightburn of The Dears actually came to Toronto and coached the actors on how to be a rock band on stage. He also read the script and gave feedback, so he was an invaluable collaborator. We also watched a lot of videos of bands performing on stage, like Radiohead and Sonic Youth, and we tried to find our own way.

How did you come to cast Canadian Jesse Todd for the role of Evan? 

We knew we wanted to cast a trans male actor, but there weren’t any trans male actors in ACTRA (the actors union we were working with), so we held an open casting call for any trans person interested in the role. We asked people who were interested to record themselves telling a story about an album that impacted their life. Jesse told this really vulnerable story that was also really funny—which they recorded in the bathroom where they work—about Radiohead’s album Kid A and how they listened to it when their house burned down. When I saw Jesse’s audition, I was like “Wow, this person is amazing.”

Why do you think it’s important to tell trans stories? 

Trans people are people. They’re complex, and the need for trans people to see themselves represented on screen—especially in situations where they aren’t being victimized for their trans nature—is crucial.

What advice would you give to others who want to tell stories which don’t reflect their own experience? 

You really need to have as many people as possible around you that did have that experience, and you should listen to them and make them an active part of your collaboration. Alongside collaborating with Jesse on the script, we sent it to some trans consultants, and Jesse spoke with Mya Taylor from Tangerine about acting and sharing their experiences on camera.

What do you think is the next step for telling trans stories?

Trans people should be telling their own stories. I don’t think it’s enough to even cast a trans person to play themselves in a film—they should be the ones behind the camera and writing the script. That’s how we push representation forward in the industry. We’re still at a point where people still don’t really know what trans looks like, so for someone to see a trans character who is making jokes, doing selfish things and awkwardly putting themselves out there—I think that’s nice to see. I want to see more flawed, complex trans characters going through universal stuff, like a shitty break-up.

Scottish Mental Heath Arts Festival 2017 OFFICIAL SELECTION FILMS ANNOUNCED including the other half

The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival is pleased to announce its Official Selection films for 2017. The titles listed below will screen at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) between 12th and 15th of October. 

All of the work being shown has emerged from our annual International Film Competition, which has evolved into a key source of cinematic material for the festival. Richard Warden, film lead for the Mental Health Foundation, said: “What emerges across the programme is a striking sense of confidence, both in the storytelling itself and in the belief that these stories are worth telling. The implication is that these films mustexist, and deserve to be seen and experienced by a wide audience. We are honoured that our official selection screenings provide a platform for such vital creativity addressing mental health.”

Tickets can be booked directly via the links found under each film. An overview of the CCA film programme with more details can also be found on the booking site Eventbrite. Most screening events are free.

A Features Pass allowing access to all eight feature-length titles in the programme at the CCA can be purchased here. Additional offerings include the panel discussion Six Feet Over: Death & Documentary, a Community Filmmaking Presentation and a Men’s Mental Health Workshop as part of an entire day devoted to the topic.

The winning films from the competition will be announced at the festival’s programme launch on Thursday 14th September and honoured at the International Film Awards on the evening of Thursday 12th October. Tickets for this event, which sees the Grand Jury Prize revealed and is followed by a drinks reception, can be booked here



Hope Litoff | USA | 2017 | 82m | Documentary

Book Here



Gordon Collins | Scotland | 2016 | 13m | Drama

Book Here: Scottish Shorts



Bartosz Kruhlik | Poland | 2016 | 25m | Drama

Book Here: Men, Interrupted I



Akira Kamiki | Brazil | 2017 | 12m | Drama

Book Here: Men, Interrupted II



Duncan Cowles | Scotland | 2017 | 10m | Documentary

Book Here: Scottish Shorts



Helena Ohman | Scotland | 2017 | 8m | Drama

Book Here: Community Counts



Alexis Chartrand | Canada | 2016 | 20m | Drama

Book Here: International Shorts



Dundee Futures Project | Scotland | 2017 | 3m | Animation

Book Here: Community Counts



Paul Cunningham | Scotland | 2017 | 2m | Documentary

Book Here: Community Counts



Mark Kidel | France | 2017 | 86m | Documentary

Book Here



Jeff Newman | Canada | 2016 | 78m | Documentary

Book Here



Rui Fan Wang | England | 2017 | 4m | Animation

Book Here: International Shorts



Jasper Valentine | England | 2017 | 9m | Documentary

Book Here: Men, Interrupted I



Hiba Nabulsi | Jordan | 2016 | 6m | Documentary

Book Here: International Shorts



Anne-Marieke Graafmans | Netherlands | 2016 | 53m | Documentary

Book Here



Mary Johnston | Scotland | 2017 | 2m | Documentary

Book Here: Community Counts



Edem Dotse | Ghana | 2016 | 15m | Drama

Book Here: Men, Interrupted II



Patrick Taylor | England | 2017 | 5m | Music Video

Book Here: Music Matters



Chico Pereira | Germany, Spain, UK | 2017 | 85m | Documentary

Book Here



Tero Peltoniemi | Finland | 2017 | 21m | Documentary

Book Here: Men, Interrupted I



Jacinthe Dessureault | Canada | 2016 | 18m | Drama

Book Here: Men, Interrupted II



Genevieve Clay-Smith | Australia | 2017 | 10m | Experimental

Book Here: Community Counts



Sarah Johnson | Australia | 2016 | 7m | Experimental

Book Here: Community Counts



Sharon Graham | Scotland | 2017 | 2m | Documentary

Book Here: Community Counts



Catriona MacInnes | England, Scotland | 2017 | 16m | Drama

Book Here: Scottish Shorts



Nathan Fagan | Ireland | 2017 | 19m | Documentary

Book Here: Music Matters

Book Here: Men, Interrupted I



Roxana Vilk | Scotland | 2016 | 9m | Documentary

Book Here: Scottish Shorts



Genevieve Bicknell | Scotland | 2017 | 12m | Documentary

Book Here: Scottish Shorts



Maureen Ni Fiann | England | 2017 | 42m | Documentary

Book Here: Music Matters



Seyed M. Tabatabaei | Iran | 2017 | 8m | Animation

Book Here: International Shorts



Paolo Virzi | Italy | 2016 | 116m | Drama

Book Here



Simon Hewitt | England | 2016 | 5m | Animation

Book Here: Men, Interrupted II



Brendan Coote | England | 2017 | 4m | Drama

Book Here: Community Counts



FALCK | Norway | 2014 | 15m | Experimental

Book Here: International Shorts



Awi Rabelista | England | 2017 | 25m | Documentary

Book Here: Men, Interrupted II



Emma Lazenby | England | 2016 | 6m | Animation

Book Here: Community Counts



Ariadne Asimakopoulos, Maartje Wegdam | Netherlands | 2017 | 76m | Documentary

Book Here



Nicholas Connor | England | 2016 | 54m | Drama

Book Here: Youth Perspective



Peter Marsden | Scotland | 2016 | 6m | Drama

Book Here: Scottish Shorts



Joey Klein | Canada | 2016 | 103m | Drama

Book Here



Lucas Helth | Denmark | 2017 | 22m | Drama

Book Here: Youth Perspective

Book Here: International Shorts



Eileen O’Meara | USA | 2016 | 3m | Animation

Book Here: International Shorts



Sean Scullion | Scotland | 2016 | 5m | Documentary

Book Here: Community Counts



Ian Tierney | England | 2016 | 10m | Documentary

Book Here: Men, Interrupted I



Carla Simón | Spain | 2017 | 96m | Drama

Book Here



Ingrid Kamerling | Netherlands | 2016 | 54m | Documentary

Book Here



Tom Lock Griffiths | England | 2016 | 19m | Experimental

Book Here: with Vivian, Vivian



Oscar Lewis| England | 2017 | 5m | Animation

Book Here: Men, Interrupted I



Gina Wenzel | Germany | 2017 | 24m | Drama

Book Here: International Shorts


The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival has a new look for 2017. Find out more here


written by Charles Trapunski September 6, 2017

It seems that this year, TIFF presents a great number of features that are directed by actors (I once asked about this in an interview, and an actor turned director mentioned the importance of listening and being present). However, though the features look strong as well, the shorts that are directed by former actors this year are really strong. It is obvious that TIFF Short Cut programmers Jason Anderson and Danis Goulet are making the actors turned director earn their way into TIFF (there was a record number of submissions this year), and the results show that these are Short Cuts to seek out.


Lira’s Forest – Connor Jessup is putting other performers to shame, because he continues to act in films like Closet Monster and TV shows such as American Crime. His short film Boy premiered at the festival in 2015, and his latest work Lira’s Forest is whimsical and wonderful. Executive produced by Albert Shin, the short is a world builder and looks and sounds awesome. Oh, and Jessup recently turned 23.


Bird – Molly Parker is a household name from her work on House of Cards and the Paul Gross film Men with Brooms (amongst a storied career), but her sense of style present in the short film Bird has a unique sensibility, and plays out in quite an unexpected way. The first hint should have been the presence of Amanda Plummer, but the music by Lesley Barber (of Manchester by the Sea and A Better Man) is ethereal.


Nuuca – The Thunder Bay born and raised actress Michelle Latimer can scarcely be called an actress any more, having come a long way from Paradise Falls. But she continues to make outstanding projects, after her VICELAND documentary Rise was one of just two Canadian-helmed projects at Sundance, as a result she made Nuuca. Not only does the short have a clear message linking industrialization with the rise of violence towards Indigenous women, but the images present in the short, it’s like a Denis Côté film or something from Fritz Lang. Just a stunning accomplishment.


There is also a Justine Bateman-helmed short, Five Minutes. Other standouts are Chandler Levack’s We Forgot to Break Up, which really lingers, The Treehouse by Juan Sebastián Quebrada may be the equal of any romantic feature, Matthew Rankin’s The Tesla World Light, Jodilerks Dela Cruz Employee of the Month from the Phillipines, The Burden, which is one of the weirdest animated musical shorts in a long time, and Naledi Jackson’s The Drop In.


For more information about these exceptional short films, please visit

TIFF ’17 Interview: Chandler Levack on Finding Harmony in “We Forgot to Break Up”

The Moveable Fest

Stephen Saito

Throughout college, Chandler Levack led a double life, learning how to make movies by day, under the tutelage of such filmmakers as “Into the Forest” director Patricia Rozema and “Mad Men” writer Semi Chellas, and dipping into clubs in the evenings where she was fast establishing herself as a music journalist. These two worlds rarely crossed, so when she got an e-mail from the guitarist of the Toronto-based punk band PUP, asking if she might know the name of a good director, she had just the person in mind.

“I was like, ‘Well, actually I want to direct it,” Levack says now with a laugh, about her first time behind the camera professionally. “So they really took a chance on me and my friend Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux, who I co-directed the video with.”

The gamble paid off handsomely, as Levack and Schaulin-Rioux took a thousand-dollar budget and earned a nomination for a UK Music Video, and the filmmaker’s unique background also made her the ideal helmer for “We Forgot to Break Up,” an adaptation of Kayt Burgess’ novel “Heidigger Stairwell” that will be premiering this week at the Toronto Film Festival as part of the shorts program. One suspects only Levack could authentically capture the backstage machinations before a big concert so effortlessly that the smell of liquor and sweat in the band Heidigger’s dressing room practically wafts off the screen. And there is plenty of the latter upon the arrival of Evan (Jesse Todd), a former member of the band who is nervous in seeing his old compadres after transitioning into a man. Well before the band performs the soaring title song, the short pulses with electricity as Evan approaches each of the band members, including the likes of Mark Rendall and Grace Glowicki, with trepidation and leaves surprised by their reaction to his new identity, for better or worse.

For a film about acceptance, it is beautiful to watch not only what happens onscreen, but off of it as Levack weaves together her two artistic passions so seamlessly without sacrificing the power of one for the other. Shortly before the film’s premiere, she spoke about literally putting on a show with “We Forgot to Break Up,” handling sensitive subject matter with great respect and how she was able to shape the characters’ moods with evocative lighting design.

How did this come about?

Canada has this short film grant program called BravoFACT where they fund short films and documentaries for emerging filmmakers. A day before the application was due, the producers Nicole and Matt Hilliard-Forde of Motel Pictures asked me if I wanted to come on board to direct adapt the novel “Heidigger Stairwell,” which was written by Kayt Burgess. It won the Amazon Three-Day novel writing contest, and I really enjoyed the premise of a former manager being friends with a Broken Social Scene-type rock band. My background is actually in music journalism and directing music videos, and there’s an interesting mythology with our own contribution to Canadian rock with these big, sprawling, complicated bands like Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene [where] you have these people who have known each other for many years and have complicated lives that extend far and wide past the bands. [This story] also had a really great trans character at the heart of it, and a really interesting love story between a straight man and a trans man, which is something I’d never seen before.

Did your own experience with rock bands contribute to how authentic this feels?

I’ve actually been a music journalist since I was 17. I watched Cameron’s Crowe “Almost Famous” when I was 15 and I was like, “I want this to be my life. ” My degree is in Cinema Studies from University of Toronto, so I was taking film classes simultaneously while I started reviewing albums and interviewing bands for music publications in Toronto and then I interned at Spin Magazine in the summer of 2007 and started writing about music for the Village Voice and the Rolling Stone website. So I’ve just always been obsessed with music and developed some close friendships with people who have been musicians and when I started directing music videos, it blended my love of cinema and also my love of music together.

But because I was also writing so much for magazines and newspapers, I never thought of myself as a filmmaker. I always figured I would become a pop culture critic or a nonfiction writer like my favorite writers at the time, who were people like Chuck Klosterman, Joan Didion, Pauline Kael, and Susan Sontag. And I think I was scared to make films because of my education. It was so theoretical and academic that it made me feel like films are canon, things that can only be studied. I would watch all of these incredible films, like Fellini’s “I Vitelloni” or the early Maysles Brothers docs, and write long academic essays thinking, “How does anyone make a movie?”

At the same time, I always loved writing dialogue and have been obsessed with comedy and theatre my whole life. My whole education in being a filmmaker has been making these low-budget music videos with Jeremy [Schaulin-Rioux] and with PUP where I was encouraged to be ambitious and take a lot of artistic risks and just do really crazy beautiful things with no money. But I think every emerging filmmaker should try making music videos first. The song is like the narrative for the film, so it’s a really great way to find your voice and find your platform.

If “We Forgot to Break Up” started as a novel, did it naturally lend itself to a short or was it difficult to adapt?

It was really challenging. I’ve never adapted anyone else’s material before. The novel chronicles the band from when they’re teenagers to when they’re out on the road as famous rock stars. We were trying to tell a story in a short amount of time, with a lot of backstory and exposition, so I think the film works because we have a specific container – Evan seeing the band again backstage in the hour before they play a show. We can hint at their personal band dynamics and these complicated relationships without giving too much away. But it was a real challenge to find the individual voices and dynamics of all the characters.

My co-writer Steven McCarthy, who also plays Angus in the film, is a really talented actor and director in his own right who has an extensive background in theatre and dramaturgy. One of the most brilliant things he did was break down every character like they were in a family – who is the black sheep? Who is the mom? Who is the dad? Who is the younger brother and the bossy older sister? That helped immensely in figuring out what every character wanted and needed from each other. Then once the actors came in, we did a lot of rehearsals and talked a lot about their character’s backstories. Two of the scenes — with Lugh and with Will — were rewritten [based on] the actors improvising off each other while Steve and I recorded and transcribed the workshop. So we used the book as a foundation to build our own specific histories and relationships that could work as a film.

How did you find Jesse Todd as your lead?

This is Jesse’s first time acting in anything ever and it was really important for me and the producers that we cast a trans actor for the role.We did an open casting call and we tried to see as many people as we could. In Canada, there are barely any trans actors in ACTRA, our acting union, and no trans males, [but because of] programs like “Orange is the New Black” and “Transparent,” we’re all starting to see trans actors playing themselves on screen. Obviously, it’s so powerful and important for trans actors to be able to play any role, not just a trans role. But more crucially, they should be the ones behind the camera, writing and directing their own stories.

We asked different trans males, who were all non-actors, to record themselves telling us a story about a song or an album that impacted their life. Jesse was one of the last submissions, who was encouraged to apply from our mutual friend William Ellis. [Jesse] filmed their audition in the bathroom of this queer bar where they work called the Beaver and told this powerful, funny, sad story about listening to [Radiohead’s] “Kid A” as a teenager. It was just so vulnerable and funny, I was just like I have to meet this person immediately. I am not trans and the story that Evan experiences in the film was in some ways one that I was familiar with — going through a painful breakup and having to distance yourself from the people who you thought used to define you — but in other ways, a really radically different experience that needed to be honest and authentic and also represent a group of people who are not normally depicted on screen. Having Jesse to collaborate with was really key – they had a lot of extremely valuable input on the development of the script and pushed and fought for things that made the movie much stronger.

[Jesse] had filmed their transition previously on YouTube, so they let me watch videos of them going through the process of taking testosterone and having top surgery, which was fascinating and incredibly valuable to have as a tool towards learning and understanding what Evan has gone through in the years since he last saw the band. [Jesse] forced me to reconsider my own assumptions about gender and trans identity and I learned a lot and became much more cognizant of the story I wanted to tell and the film I wanted to make as a result of our friendship. So I would encourage anyone who wants to tell a trans or queer story or any Othered story that’s different from your own lived experience to surround themselves and actively collaborate with people who can bring their own experiences and points of view to your work and really listen to them, especially when they are challenging you or calling you out on your own biases or assumptions. I really hope the next time Jesse and I work together on a film, that [Jesse is] the writer/director and maybe I can be a producer or a PA.

The band in the film all appears to be really playing their instruments during the concert scene — were they cast based on musical experience? Or were they just really good looking doing it?

Three of the actors who play in the band are musicians. Steve McCarthy has a funk band called the Elastocitizens, Dov Tiefenbach used to be the lead singer in Theresa’s Sound World, and Mark Rendall is also a musician and solo artist. Grace Glowicki had never played bass before and the Cara Gee has never played the keyboard. I was intimidated to film the big rock and roll show at the end, and was really grateful that our composer Murray Lightburn actually came to Toronto rehearse with the actors and teach them how to be a band. He is the lead singer of a band in Montreal called The Dears, and there was one day where the producers booked a rehearsal studio and we watched a bunch of videos with bands performing live and studied their movement and energy and chemistry onstage. Then we broke down all their parts individually and Murray gave everyone their rock star persona. We booked a studio and a recording session, so they all sang the song for real and Murray recorded and mixed the track.

How did you collaborate on the song with Murray Lightburn?

Michael Perlmutter, our executive producer and music supervisor asked me, “Who would you want to compose to song?” And I suggested The Dears because they were my favorite band when I was 15. The suggestion was a bit, like “That’s not going to happen,” but we put the offer out and it was really exciting that he wanted to do it. It’s an exciting and intimidating thing to create a rock band from scratch and I didn’t want to lean too much on how the book suggested the band should sound like. I sent [Murray] three or four songs that I really liked that had cool elements – Sonic Youth’s “Massage The History, The Dears “Heartless Romantic” and a song by The Jealous Girlfriends called “Secret Identity.” Murray took that as inspiration and he read the book and he read the script, so the lyrics are based on the themes from the script. The song evolved over time as we tried to figure it out. We knew we wanted a boy-girl harmony, a big guitar solo and a cool, cathartic chorus. Murray recorded some aspects of the song himself and got a friend to play drums. But once the cast recorded it, it was really magical and surprising. They completely transformed it into something really special. It’s a hit!

Was it difficult to stage the concert aspect?

We had a little bit of movie magic. We got really lucky to shoot at the Danforth Music Hall, which is a really iconic venue in Toronto and a fantastic place to see a concert. It’s just amazing on camera. There were maybe 16 extras that we kind of like all grouped together, so it looked like a huge audience watching the band. Before we shot, my friends PUP ended up playing three sold out shows at the Danforth, so they let me put Jesse, our lead, into the audience. We filmed his reaction shots in the crowd before we shot the band stuff and we copied the same lighting design from PUP so that the band’s performance would match the look of the audience.

The lighting throughout is so effective at conveying emotion, particularly during the scene where Evan and Lugh, the lead singer, talk about their estrangement and the changing colors in the background as the technicians run a soundcheck reflect the shifting mood. How did you figure that out?

It was really all Cabot McNenly, our extremely talented cinematographer, to have it change and shift during that scene. Originally, I wanted to stage that scene in a small stairwell, but the location didn’t have anything to offer. During our location scout, Cabot pointed out the fact that there’s this whole glorious balcony at the Danforth Music Hall. So we conceived of the idea that they can be testing the lighting on stage and the light can be reflecting off of them. I wanted the scene to take place originally in one seven-minute zoom shot, which is a classic first-time director mistake, and of course, we ended up needing those close-ups for emotional impact. But it ended up being so cinematic and beautiful to have the blue light coming up on their faces. I loved to see them looking at each other with the light coming off the stage. Louise [Simpson], the lighting board designer at the Danforth Music Hall, created a beautiful lighting scheme for all of it, so it was a real nice collaboration between me, Cabot, and everyone at the Danforth that also felt emotionally tied to what the characters were experiencing as well.

What’s it like for you to have this film premiere at Toronto?

It’s so amazing. I still can’t believe it. I’m a Torontonian and have been attending and covering the festival as a journalist for about eight years now. There are so many movies and filmmakers that I’ve discovered at TIFF that have actively changed my life and informed my whole perspective on cinema, from Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Cemetery of Splendor” to Noah Baumbach’s “Frances Ha.” Because of TIFF, I’ve also gotten to interview legendary filmmakers like Mike Leigh, Pedro Almodovar and Jill Soloway and maybe also secretly ask them for advice! So when I found out that “We Forgot to Break Up” was accepted into the festival, even to be in the same programme book as my cinematic heroes like Agnes Varda, Yorgos Lanthimos, Greta Gerwig and Michael Haneke is just overwhelming. It means so much to me. I think we’re at a really exciting moment for Canadian film and I’m inspired by so many of my peers and friends who are emerging Canadian filmmakers. I’ve wanted to call myself a filmmaker my whole life, so I’m just really excited to be a part of TIFF.

“We Forgot to Break Up” will play as part of the Short Cuts Program 5 at the Toronto Film Festival on September 10th at 3:45 pm the Scotiabank 14 and September 16th at 3 pm at the Scotiabank 10.

40 must-see shorts at TIFF 2017

 Andrew Parker

 August 31, 2017

 FilmToronto International Film Festival

In addition to screening hundreds of feature films every year, the Toronto International Film Festival (kicking off on Thursday, September 7th and running to the 17th) boasts an exceptionally strong line-up of shorts. The Short Cuts Programme has become one of the most prominent showcases of short filmmaking in the world, but films functioning outside of the sexier, long-form norm can be found popping up throughout the festival in various sections, perhaps most notably in the daring, boundary pushing Wavelengths program. Sometimes feature films in many of TIFF’s other programs will be accompanied by like-minded shorts as a sort of appetizer for things to come. The array of short films and filmmakers is just as varied and diverse as the features that tend to overshadow these smaller cinematic accomplishments.

With that in mind, here’s a look at 40 shorts at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival (listed in alphabetical order) that viewers won’t want to miss. For a full list of short films and programmes playing at TIFF, check out the TIFF website.


If one were to close their eyes while watching Swiss filmmaker Michaela Müller’s animated short, Airport, viewers could be forgiven for thinking they were actually in a bustling, functional, chaotic airport. Open your eyes, however, and be dazzled by the gorgeous paint-on-glass splendour that naturally captures key details, anxieties, and motions instantly recognizable in any airport experience. It’s a lovely slice of life.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 7

The Argument (with annotations)

Canadian filmmaker Daniel Cockburn (WeakendYou Are Here) returns to TIFF with this witty blending of semantics and melodrama. Starting off with a cinematic discussion on the nature of metaphor and intention (covering everything from The Big Lebowski to Alive to The Shining), Cockburn’s latest finds an unhappy professor utilizing her teachings in her own life (via the titular annotations serving as a running internal monologue). Not only a discussion about the use of metaphor in a literary and cinematic sense, Cockburn has also created a short that’s dripping with visual metaphor in its own right, building to a sumptuous, layered film.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 2

Bickford Park

Ambiguity and charm are two feelings that are hard to blend together, but filmmakers Dane Clark and Linsey Stewart have done just that with the black and white relationship comedy Bickford Park. A likable Liane Balaban stars as a young wife growing further apart from her garage rocker husband and finding companionship in a young man who’s teaching her how to skateboard. The underlying relationship issues contained within Bickford Park’s narrative are obvious, but the conflicted feelings of the film’s protagonist are realistically rendered and malleable thanks to astute plotting and Balaban’s dynamic performance.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 1


The directorial debut of actress Molly Parker, Bird casts Amanda Plummer as a transient woman returning home to visit her stressed out elderly mother and increasingly senile former marathon runner father. When the beloved family bird flies out the front door and dad goes walkabout, the returning daughter springs into action. Full of subtle nuances, great performances, and a wholly original story, Bird is an assured and confident first film from Parker, and one hopes she’ll make another one soon.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 3

Blue Christmas

Set in Scotland in the late 1960s, Charlotte Wells’ Blue Christmas spins the not so joyful yuletide tale of a tenacious debt collector (Jamie Robson) going from door to door on Christmas Eve to shake people down when he knows they’ll be home. While that could sustain a film fine enough on its own, Wells’ work travels closer into Ken Loach territory (which makes sense seeing that her film was shot by Loach’s frequent cinematographer) that casts her unlikable protagonist in the light of his crumbling home life, with a wife (Michelle Duncan) suffering from undiagnosed and unchecked mental illness and a young son (Lewis McGowan) pushed to the breaking point by both his parents. It’s the kind of film one wished would go on longer, but it says exactly what it needs to in a succinct and lovely manner.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 4

The Burden

Singing sardines, soft-shoe dancing rats, and self-loathing call centre employees are just a few of the things viewers will see in the captivating, toe-tapping, and beautifully empathetic stop-motion animated musical The Burden. Swedish filmmaker Niki Lindroth von Bahr’s ode to loneliness told through the eyes of folks trying to work or sleep through another solitary or unfulfilling night is packed to bursting with great music, original visuals, and humane insights. Did I mention it was a musical? Did I mention the singing fish?

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 6


This lightning paced and visually and narratively elaborate animated set piece from Dutch filmmaker Jamille Van Wijngaarden finds a housecat desperately trying to not get blamed for the apparent natural causes death of the family bird. It goes by quickly, but Wijngaarden packs a lot of laughs and flash into just a couple of minutes.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 6

Creatura Dada

One of the shortest, but most visually powerful shorts to make this list, Caroline Monnet’s Creatura Dada casts indigenous women (including legendary filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin) as attendees of an opulent dinner party. A striking portrait of empowerment and femininity, Monnet’s percussive short leaves a visual and emotional impression on the viewer greater than its short running time might suggest.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 3

Crème de menthe

This tragicomic Canadian short from filmmakers Philippe David Gagné and Jean-Marc E. Roy might take its name from one of the most nausea inducing liqueurs ever created (you know this is true and there’s no telling me otherwise), but the film built around it is eminently likable and moving. A woman (a wonderful Charlotte Aubin) travels back to her hometown for the funeral of her semi-estranged Rush worshiping father, only to find that her dad’s former landlord wants his former tenant’s unit to be emptied out by the end of the week. It’s a task easier said than done considering that mom is very little help and it turned out that dad was a bit of a hoarder. But through this frustrated hero’s journey, a catharsis comes, and it’s quite lovely. This one is guaranteed to make you smile.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 6

The Crying Conch

Canadian filmmaker Vincent Toi’s ambitious and artistically fascinating reimagining of Creole history and myth takes a lot of different storytelling techniques, mixes them up, and comes up with something timeless. Set against the backdrop of Guinea slaves being sent to work in Haiti in the 18th century, but played out by performers working with modern sensibilities and told from the overarching perspective of an orated history, The Crying Conch is insightful, intelligent, playful, and entertaining.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 5

Dislocation Blues

Sky Hopkina’s innovative documentary look at the 2016 Standing Rock protests eschews big picture significance to tell smaller, more intimate stories of the First Nations resistance from perspectives within the movement that are often ignored. Dislocation Blues expertly shows how the personal is almost always political, but it also functions as a well constructed text that dives deeply, but subtly into media manipulation and the double edged sword of nostalgia. There’s a lot to process here, but it’s worth it.

Where to find it:

Wavelengths 1: Appetite for Destruction

Drop by Drop

Inhabitants of a dying community with a dwindling population talk about life on the margins and their plans for the future in Portuguese animator Xá and documentarian Laura Gonçalves’ artful and poignant blending of gorgeous, hand drawn black and white illustration and real life interviews. The community being described by the recordings of these people is never glimpsed, but it sounds appropriately surreal, making the marriage of animation and documentary technique a perfect fit for Drop by Drop.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 3

The Drop In

Up and coming writer-director Naledi Jackson’s The Drop In (featured in the image at the top of the page) is an assured work that’s best viewed by knowing as little as possible about how the plot works outside of saying that it starts when a beauty salon worker is stopped from closing up by a woman begging to get her braids fixed. Outside of saying that, The Drop In is revolutionary in this year’s short selection for several reasons: it plays out entirely between two black female leads (Mouna Traoré and Oluniké Adeliyi), it’s the only subtle sci-fi short in this year’s line-up (with echoes of Blade Runner), and it’s the only short this year (that I’ve seen) to feature a full on action sequence. It’s great, but that’s all I want to tell you outside of a parting word to say that I can’t wait to see what Jackson does next.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 7

A Drowning Man

A Palestinian refugee living on the streets of Athens struggles, hustles, and desperately attempts to scrounge up enough food for a comfortable meal and some smokes in Mahdi Fleifel’s kinetic and heart-wrenching drama A Drowning Man. Effectively placing the viewer into the shoes of someone in a bad situation driven to worse places by desperate, but basic human needs, Fleifel has created a tragic, bracing commentary for our times.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 5

For Nonna Anna

A raw, but moving familial portrait, Luis de Filippis’ For Nonna Anna concerns a teenage transwoman (YouTube star Maya Henry) caring for her frail, Italian speaking grandmother during what feels like a time of need for both women. Delicate and easily identifiable to anyone who has ever had to care for an elderly loved on, For Nonna Annabuilds to a moment of great tenderness and recognition that builds a bridge between generations with a single glance.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 3

A Gentle Night

Qiu Yang picked up the coveted Palme d’Or at Cannes this year for his riveting and immediate look at a Chinese mother trying desperately to locate her missing daughter. Fed up with what she sees as police inaction, she sets out on an all night journey for answers. Played out in sprawling, expertly choreographed shots from atypical perspectives, A Gentle Night flips the script on a genre staple that was in danger of growing stale. We’ve all seen plenty of films where grieving parents search for missing children, but never one like this.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Program 7

Grandmother (?Etsu)

The latest short film from Trevor Mack, Grandmother finds a young indigenous child fascinated by his grandmother’s old VHS camcorder. Seeing the camera not only as an escape from a life dominated by a less than exemplary or understanding surrogate father figure, but also as a way to reconnect to his beloved grandmother, the boy’s journey starts of poignant, but builds to a grand tragedy with stark, timely relevance. It’s moving, gutting, must-see filmmaking.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 3

Great Choice

“At Red Lobster, for a limited time, enjoy 30 shrimp for just $10.99, with our famous fried shrimp, succulent scampi, lemon pepper shrimp, and our delicious grilled shrimp. That’s four different kinds! That’s 30 shrimp on one plate for $10.99, and only at one place…”

Where to find it:

Screening as part of Midnight Madness before the feature Mom and Dad


If the description for the short just above this one seems inscrutable to you, then I can’t even try to explain or contextualize the latest creepy, weirdly comic offering from Astron-6 members Milos Mitrovic and Connor Sweeney. It’s, um, related to The Simpsons… uh… somewhat… and… well, it might be the strangest thing I have seen since that guy dressed up as a cut rate Max Headroom and pirated a TV broadcast.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 7

An Imagined Conversation: Kanye West & Stephen Hawking

Another oddball that almost defies rational explanation, Sol Friedman’s animated and wholly hypothetical vision of a bro-down on the beach between rap’s biggest mouthpiece and the world’s most renowned cosmologist might push the boundaries of good taste for some, but there’s no denying that this short contains some huge belly laughs. Growing stranger and more ridiculous as it goes along, Friedman’s tête-à-tête between two of pop culture’s most instantly recognizable figureheads throws whatever it comes up with at the wall, and shockingly almost all of it sticks. At any rate, viewers will never be able to look at Drake or Bryan Cranston the same way again.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 1

Jodilerks Dela Cruz, Employee of the Month

At a gas station in The Philippines on the verge of going out of business, a once dedicated employee stops giving any sort of a shit in Carlo Francisco Manatad’s black comedy Jodilerks Dela Cruz, Employee of the Month. Sometimes in gleefully bad taste and filmed with a gritty, grimy visual sensibility, but always riveting and relatable, it’s a spectacularly realized yarn based around a good employee gone hilariously bad.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 6

La Libertad

The latest project from Harvard’s Sensory Ethnographic Lab (LeviathanManakamana), La Libertad finds Laura Huertas Millán observing female weavers plying their trade in Mexico. An unfiltered look at craftsmanship, the creative process, and even consumer culture on a subtextual level, La Libertad is just as entrancing and potentially hypnotic as other offerings in the Ethnographic Lab’s filmography, but astute viewers will be thinking longer and harder about what’s happening outside the margins of this observational documentary than some of their other offerings rather than dwelling exclusively on what’s happening within the frame.

Where to find it:

Wavelengths 4: As above, so below


A dancer and single mother brings her still breast feeding toddler away on a retreat to a cabin in the woods to focus on her next gig as a choreographer and wean her son onto the bottle. What could have been comic in its own right takes an inspired, creative, and bonkers horror movie twist in Canadian filmmakers Justin Hardin and Rob Brunner’s Latched when a mysterious, monstrous creature is awakened to turn the woman’s life into a nightmare. It’s a strange one, but certainly memorable and entertaining.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 6

Lira’s Forest

Although the still incredibly young and immeasurably talented Canadian artist Connor Jessup might be known best to festival audiences as the break-out star of feature films Blackbird and Closet Monster, he has amassed quite a C.V. of directorial efforts worth noting. The fantastical and austere Lira’s Forest is a great addition to Jessup’s filmmaking career. Playing out like a live action sequence from a Miyazaki film, Lira’s Forest is a simple encounter between an elderly woman with emphysema sitting on her porch and a child-like, silent creature in a cat mask. A poignant look at staying young, growing old, and the power of wonder, Lira’s Forest is a quiet little marvel.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 8

Midnight Confessions

Midnight Confessions, the latest off-the-wall comedy from director, star, and co-writer Maxwell McCabe Lokos (someone I hope has a film at the festival every year until he gets tired of making them), is the side-splitting and more than slightly pathetic tale of a pathological liar calling up former friends in the middle of the night from his West Berlin shithole apartment circa 1989. The caller wants to rebuild burned bridges and let those he aggrieved say how they really feel about him, but things don’t go so well. A fascinating and funny look at the nature of guilt, Midnight Confessions is a grimy delight.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 7



One of the most haunting and best written films in this year’s shorts programme is Sam Kuhn’s mash-up of noir, teen movies, and transcendental cinema, Möbius. Told largely from the inner monologue of a teenager trying to piece together the disappearance of her boyfriend, Kuhn’s film starts in a place of visual splendour and narrative delicacy before exploding outward in surprising, elegant fashion. It’s stylish, unnerving, playful, and not to be missed.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 6

Mother (Madre)

Not to be confused with the latest feature from Darren Aronofsky that’s also playing this year’s festival, Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s intense, largely single take thriller focuses on a single Spanish mother (Marta Nieto) who gets a call from her young son from a French beach. The boy’s father has seemingly disappeared, the battery on the child’s phone is dying, and the young man has no idea the name of the beach. Tapping into a primal, unimaginable fear to great effect, Mother is one of the most thrilling shorts of the festival.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 2


Canadian filmmaker and documentarian Michelle Latimer returns to the festival with Nucca, a haunting, stripped down look at the alarming and unacceptable number of missing and endangered indigenous women. Over shots of a North Dakota reservation that has become a hotbed for oil drilling, a young woman talks about the day her community stopped feeling like a safe place to live. Nuuca takes a vital, often overlooked issue and strips it back to its painful, harrowing essence.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 5

Onward Lossless Follows

Filmmaker Michael Robinson’s avant garde short begins with the sounds of a preacher talking about predestination and temperament, but this entrancing, moving, and unnerving work of cinematic art evolves into something unexpected. Expertly blending strobing effects, text, subtext, slowed down stock footage, audio cues, and music to almost symphonic effect, Robinson has crafted one of the best (and hard to explain) art films of the year.

Where to find it:

Wavelengths 1: Appetite for Destruction

The President’s Visit

Providing the biggest number of hearty belly laughs of any film on this list, Cyril Aris’ The President’s Visit concerns a small Lebanese fishing village that’s whipped into a frenzy when a local soap maker lets it slip that the country’s leader is buying some of his artisanal soaps for his “cleansing” of the country’s corrupt political landscape. What was supposed to be a secret trip to the town turns into an all out frenzy with people going out of their way (and in some cases, outright lying) in an effort to impress the president. Aris’ cast is comedically gifted across the board, and the director can get just as much mileage out of a well timed sound effect happening in the distance as he can from the film’s sharply written dialogue and message.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 3

Rose Gold

Canadian filmmaker Sara Cwynar’s purposefully colourful and vibrant Rose Gold unfolds at a blistering pace, painting a picture of consumerism as a form of near mania. Expertly edited, Cwynar looks at vanishing ways of life, branding, nostalgia, and how many rabid consumers give in to objectification in such an accomplished fashion that it never feels overwhelming. This is smart filmmaking made for smart people.

Where to find it:

Wavelengths 3: Figures in a Landscape


The children of Syrian refugees now living in Canada attempt to adjust to cultural and language shifts in filmmaker Yassmina Karajah’s heartbreaking and profound second short. A cautious young man and his sister (Assad al Arid and Salam al Marzouqi, who like the rest of the primary cast are non-actors) set out with some more adventurous friends to find a local swimming pool and shopping mall to pass the time. Gradually, a secret will be revealed that the brother has been hiding from his sister, but even prior to Rupture’s big reveal, Karajah’s film functions as a timely and perceptive look at struggles into integrate into a new culture after leaving tragic circumstances behind.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 1


Toronto filmmaker Kazik Radwanski (TowerHow Heavy This Hammer) returns to the festival this year in the Wavelengths programme with this deceptively simple look at a pair of contractors (Jasmin Geljo and Igor Drljaca) as they work on a home in Toronto’s Danforth area. Never showing the faces of anyone involved with the renovation (but curiously showing those of people across the laneway and street) Scaffold seems experimental and almost banal at first, but gradually stories begin to form and emotions are stirred thanks to Radwanski’s unique method of placing viewers at an almost waist-level view of the action. It’s a fascinating work from one of Canada’s best working filmmakers.

Where to find it:

Screening before Denis Côté observational documentary feature, A Skin so Soft (Ta peau si lisse)

Shadow Nettes

A great performative piece full of movement and surreal delights should be able to tell a viewer any number of stories without bombarding them with too much unecessary detail, and that’s precisely what Phillip Barker’s black-and-white-and-nearly-wordless short Shadow Nettes does splendidly. Depicting fishermen who like to capture shadows, it’s a film so expertly designed and choreographed that almost no explanation is needed to get attuned to its singular wavelength.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 8


The definition of a slow-burn, this patient, but worthwhile film from Japanese filmmaker Kei Chikaura starts out by following a skittish, ear-bud wearing Chinese tourist as he attempts to navigate a bustling Tokyo commercial centre. What begins as a low-key fish out of water story and observational drama quickly turns into something humane and moving following a key revelation about this young man’s journey. It’s a revelation worth waiting around for.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 8

The Tesla World Light

One of the world’s greatest and unrecognized inventors contemplates his life and research in a letter penned to one of his greatest funders – J.P. Morgan – in Canadian filmmaker Matthew Rankin’s visually dazzling blend of documentary, fictional filmmaking, outsider art, and animation. The Tesla World Light creatively blends a lot of dissimilar techniques with such unique precision that it becomes a lovely reflection of its titular historical figurehead.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 6

The Treehouse

Latin American filmmaker Juan Sebastián Quebrada’s The Treehouse would be hilarious if it didn’t feel so realistic and lived in that it almost becomes uncomfortable. In The Treehouse, a woman moves into a new apartment with her long term lover, but in the process of getting settled in she starts to learn that her boyfriend isn’t who she first thought he was. A picture perfect look at falling in and out of love and the remorse people feel when they learn the truth about someone, The Treehouse is complex and understanding in ways that few shorts about doomed relationships could ever achieve.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 4

Turtles Are Always Home

At turns eerie and calming, Rawane Nassif’s observational film travels to the seemingly deserted and quiet Qanat Quarter of Doha, Qatar. Paying close attention to the tackily fabricated facades of storefronts and buildings that are designed to look like visitors are anywhere but Qatar, Nassif has crafted something that runs counter to filmmaking convention. By looking at the glossy artifice straight on and remaining silent, Nassif’s film is the rare example where reflections in a pane of glass are more telling and honest than the actual foreground image.

Where to find it:

Wavelengths 2: Fluid Frontiers

We Forgot to Break Up

Writer, journalist filmmaker, and music video director Chandler Levack’s adaptation of Kayt Burgess’ novel Heidegger’s Stairwell concerns, Evan (Jesse Todd), a former manager for a band that’s reached the big time following his acrimonious, sudden, but emotionally understandable split from the group. Returning out of nowhere after four years to tell his former clients that he has written a tell-all book about the band and his life stirs up plenty of mixed feelings. Levack, who still has quite the career ahead of her, has proven to be a master of characterization, creating deeper personalities and connections in a short film than many accomplished filmmakers could over an entire feature. Add to Levack’s talents a top notch cast (including Grace Glowicki, Cara Gee, Dov Tiefenbach, and co-writer Stephen McCarthy) and one ends up with an exceptionally moving backstage drama.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 5

We Love Moses

A story of young people crushing on each other with a twist, British filmmaker Dionne Edwards We Love Moses is a smart and witty look at how teenage girls can experiment and explore their sexuality while their male peers are often too consumed by proving their masculinity at the same age. Grade eight student Ella (a wonderful Danaë Jean Marie) develops a crush for her big brother’s best friend, Moses (Jerome Holder), but the relationship between the two men isn’t what Ella initially expected. Edwards’ thoughtfully assembled script and direction offers up a multi-layered look at the pressures faced by teens when they try to subscribe to pre-determined, rigid societal norms.

Where to find it:

Short Cuts Programme 5


Down to just eight slots this year, the Toronto International Film Festival's Short Cuts programs still do their best to impress


AUGUST 29, 2017 2:21 PM

Glance at this year’s TIFF schedule and the downsizing doesn’t really leap out at you – there seem to be just as many Galas and Special Presentations as ever, cramming venues with red carpets.

Look for the Short Cuts screenings, though, and the cuts are obvious: there are just eight programs of Canadian and international short subjects, down from 11 last year.

Not that selection has suffered, mind you; programmers Jason Anderson and Danis Goulet have curated another fine selection of short cinema, organized into roughly thematic collections.

Program One looks at connections, from the oddball pairing of a hip-hop king and the greatest mind on Earth in Sol Friedman’s animated An Imagined Conversation: Kanye West And Stephen Hawking to the quartet of young refugees whose repressed traumas bubble back up as they visit a Vancouver pool in Yassmina Karajah’s Rupture. And Dane Clark and Linsey Stewart’s Bickford Park looks at another sort of connection, as a young woman (Liane Balaban) avoids dealing with her husband (Patrick Costello) by taking skateboarding lessons from a teenager (Daniel Policelli).

Program Two is about "high-pressure situations," and includes Heather Young’s Milk – which stars Babette Hayward as a dairy worker dealing with a pregnancy, and reminded me of Denis Côté’s observational documentaries – and Daniel Cockburn’s dry The Argument (With Annotations), which elegantly knits the semiotics of cinema into an understated relationship drama about an academic (Clare Coulter) who realizes that her partner (Robin Benger) is kind of a tool.


Program Three, about "hoping and coping," features Trevor Mack’s haunting Grandmother – a meditation on family, memory and generational pain with a striking visual aesthetic – and The President’s Visit, Lebanese filmmaker Cyril Aris’s comedy about the mounting hysteria in a small town awaiting the eponymous leader. This program also includes Bird, a delicate drama about a woman (Amanda Plummer) trying to do right by her aging parents (Geza Kovacs and The Argument’s Coulter). It’s the writing and directing debut of the actor Molly Parker, and it’s exactly as thoughtful and textured as I’d expect something of hers to be.

Program Four, about "the mysteries of human desire," offers a couple of imported gems: Charlotte Wells’s Blue Christmas, a grim English drama about a debt collector (Jamie Robson) and his disturbed wife (Michelle Duncan), and Carolina Markowitz’s Long Distance Relationship, a very strange monologue from a Brazilian gentleman (Matías Singer) who would like to have sex with an extraterrestrial someday.

Program Five, about "those who struggle to find a place for themselves," features Chandler Levack’s We Forgot To Break Up, a sharp character study about a guy named Evan (Jesse Todd) who drops backstage to catch up with his old friends in a band, who knew him when he was called Evie.

Packed with Toronto talent – including Steven McCarthy (who also co-wrote the script), Cara Gee, Grace Glowicki, Dov Tiefenbach, Mark Rendall and Sofia Banzhaf – and shot by Cabot McNenly in a hushed, intimate manner that belies the bustling Danforth Music Hall location, it’s a small marvel of storytelling, building entire histories out of half-finished sentences and quick glances. And the song that closes the film has been bouncing around in my head for the last couple of weeks. (Full disclosure: I know a few of these people. It’s still a really good short.)

Program Six, composed of “daring films that blur boundaries and break conventions," offers the year’s strongest and strangest lineup. There’s The Burden, a stop-motion musical from Swedish director Niki Lindroth von Bahr; Filipino filmmaker Carlo Francisco Manatad’s slow-burn satire Jodilerks Dela Cruz, Employee Of The Month; Matthew Rankin’s delirious stop-motion kinograph The Tesla World Light and Jamille van Wijngaarden’s equally delirious (if considerably more concise) animated farce Catastrophe.

Sam Kuhn’s Möbius and Justin Harding and Rob Brunner’s Latched both mix dance and the fantastical, to very different results; there’s the down-to-earth observational dramedy of Philippe David Gagné and Jean-Marc E. Roy’s Crème De Menthe, in which a young woman (Charlotte Aubin) finally connects to her late father by sorting through his personal effects, and Patrick Bresnan and Ivete Lucas’s Roadside Attraction people-watches on a strip of Florida road that overlooks the airport where Air Force One delivers Donald Trump to his weekend getaways.

Program Seven, about characters facing "the very worst of challenges," collects oddball entries like Midnight Confession, a darkish-night-of-the-soul story from writer/director/star Maxwell McCabe-Lokos, and Michaela Müller’s Airport uses beautiful hand-painted animation to turn the mundane experience of travel into an impressionistic landscape of beauty and horror.

Oh, but there’s more: fans of The Simpsons will be equally attracted and repelled by the freakish live-action inhabitants of homer_b, from Astron-6 members Milos Mitrovic and Conor Sweeney, while Qiu Yang’s Cannes-winning drama A Gentle Night packs a great deal of tension into a quarter of an hour. (You don’t need to know more than that.)

Finally, there’s Program Eight, about “surviving and thriving” – which is not necessarily a description I’d apply to Connor Jessup’s Lira’s Forest, a sort of live-action Miyazaki fable about a dying woman (Patricia Hamilton) visited by a fox spirit. But I suppose it depends on your point of view. One could say the same for the events of Phillip Barker’s Shadow Nettes, an eerie mixture of myth and dance.

Things are a little more concrete in Jessica Palud’s Marlon, a brooding drama that follows a teenage girl (Flavie Delangle) as she prepares to visit her mother in prison, and in Kei Chikaura’s Signature, about a young Chinese man (Lu Yulai) seeking purpose in Tokyo. And the resulting mixture is a fine, considered selection of cinema from Canada and beyond – just like all of this year’s programs, really. Fewer doesn't have to mean lesser.