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  • Originally published on
  • Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021
Toronto Film Fest Unveils Plans For Talent Development, Media Inclusion
Additions made to Selects, Visionaires lineups

The Toronto International Film Festival has set the lineups for its Talent Development programs, including TIFF Filmmaker Lab, TIFF Talent Accelerator, TIFF Rising Stars, and the TIFF Micki Moore Residency, as well as the recently confirmed Media Inclusion Initiative participants.

“Removing barriers for creators, storytellers, and performers so they can continue developing their voice and realizing their vision is a key part of TIFF’s mission,” said Geoff Macnaughton, Senior Director, Industry and Theatrical. “Our Talent Development programs provide carefully curated labs, access to resources, and financial support to help accelerate the careers of filmmakers, screenwriters, and actors refining their craft in tangible ways.”

Filmmaker Lab provides an immersive learning experience for 20 directors who will participate in curated, private sessions that will put them in contact with some of the finest creative talent in the world, who have carved out their careers by remaining true to their beliefs about the importance of personal expression in cinema. This year’s participants are: Omolola Ajao, Zayn Alexander, Ian Bawa, Enrique Buleo, Jorge Camarotti, Jaione Camborda, Harry Cepka, Justin Ducharme, Sarra El Abed, Gunhild Enger, Tiffany Hsiung, Jessica Barclay Lawton, Marianne Métivier, Rachael Moton, Minos Nikolakakis, Vonne Patiag, Zoé Pelchat, André Hayato Saito, Vitória Vasconcellos, and Adrian Wallace. 

The 2021 Filmmaker Lab Governors are Ramin Bahrani, Tracey Deer, Miranda Harcourt, and Sanjay Sharma. They will be joined by guest speakers Hany Abu-Assad, Tom Grievson, Mia Hansen-Løve, Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs, Alexandre Moratto, and Edgar Wright.

Filmmaker Lab is supported by Telefilm Canada, Pinewood Studios, and Share Her Journey, TIFF’s commitment to increasing participation, skills, and opportunities for women behind and in front of the camera. Since its inception Share Her Journey has directly supported 362 filmmakers and film professionals and showcased 280 official Festival titles in an effort to have more films by women made, experienced, and celebrated. 

New this year, the TIFF Worb Filmmaker Fellowship and the TIFF Barry Avrich Fellowship will promote diversity and inclusion in filmmaking by supporting two emerging creators participating in TIFF Filmmaker Lab, and the Share Her Journey Giving Circle Fellowship will support an emerging woman filmmaker participating in TIFF Filmmaker Lab. The TIFF Canada Goose Fellowship is made possible by Canada Goose’s support of Share Her Journey. The Fellowship supports three women who are emerging creators participating in TIFF Filmmaker Lab. 

The TIFF Fellows for 2021 are:

  • Tiffany Hsiung – Share Her Journey Giving Circle Filmmaker Lab Fellow 
  • Arooj Azeem – Share Her Journey Rising Stars Fellow 
  • Emma Ferreira – Share Her Journey Rising Stars Fellow  
  • Jessica Barclay Lawton – Share Her Journey Filmmaker Lab Fellow 
  • Amber Midthunder – Share Her Journey Rising Stars Fellow 
  • Rachael Moton – Share Her Journey Filmmaker Lab Fellow 
  • Gunhild Enger – Share Her Journey Filmmaker Lab Fellow
  • Karam Taher – Share Her Journey Rising Stars Fellow 
  • Marianne Métivier – TIFF Worb Filmmaker Filmmaker Lab Fellow
  • Justin Ducharme – TIFF Barry Avrich Filmmaker Lab Fellow 
  • Vitória Vasconcellos – TIFF Canada Goose Filmmaker Lab Fellow 
  • Zoé Pelchat – TIFF Canada Goose Filmmaker Lab Fellow 
  • Jaione Camborda – TIFF Canada Goose Filmmaker Lab Fellow 
  • Omolola Ajao – Netflix Talent Accelerator Fellow 
  • Sarra El Abed – Netflix Talent Accelerator Fellow 
  • Tamara Mariam Dawit – Netflix Talent Accelerator Fellow 
  • Shehrezade Mian – Netflix Talent Accelerator Fellow 
  • Yasmine Mathurin – Netflix Talent Accelerator Fellow 
  • Mayumi Yoshida – Netflix Talent Accelerator Fellow

The TIFF Talent Accelerator is a customized, year-long development experience for promising Canadian creators who are women. Directors Omolola Ajao and Sarra El Abed (also part of this year’s Filmmaker Lab); producers Tamara Mariam Dawit and Shehrezade Mian; and writers Yasmine Mathurin and Mayumi Yoshida have been selected to participate.

The TIFF Talent Accelerator program is made possible by TIFF’s Share Her Journey initiative and is generously supported by the RBC Women Creators’ Initiative. Participants in the Talent Accelerator program receive fellowship funding presented by Netflix. 

Atefeh Khademolreza has been named the recipient of the Micki Moore Residency for 2021. The screenwriting residency for women is supported by Toronto journalist and broadcaster Micki Moore and Share Her Journey. Khademolreza will receive a 10-week residency, mentorship from a script consultant, industry accreditation for the Festival, and $3,000 towards developing her screenwriting project.

Continuing its commitment to gender parity in both the domestic and international groups, TIFF Filmmaker Lab continues to be an inclusive, enriching and collaborative space for emerging creatives to be mentored by established artists. TIFF Talent Accelerator is made possible by lead supporter RBC Women Creators’ Initiative and is part of Share Her Journey.

Celebrating its 10th year, the TIFF Rising Stars program provides up-and-coming actors with an exclusive opportunity to experience and engage with the Festival. They will have access to professional development sessions, industry events, mentorship, and networking opportunities. The 2021 Rising Stars are: Arooj Azeem (Quickening), Emma Ferreira (Learn To Swim), Phillip Lewitski (Wildhood), Jaden Michael (Colin in Black and White), Amber Midthunder (The Wheel), Thomas Antony Olajide (Learn To Swim), Dimitrius Schuster-Koloamatangi (The Panthers), and Karam Taher (Farha). Notable alumni of this program include Stephan James (If Beale Street Could Talk, Golden Globe winner Homecoming, Selma), Tatiana Maslany (Stronger, The Other Half, Emmy winner Orphan Black), Sarah Gadon (Alias Grace, Maps to the Stars, A Dangerous Method), Theodore Pellerin (On Becoming a God in Central Florida, Boy Erased), Ellen Wong (Glow, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), Vinnie Bennett (Fast and Furious 9, Ghost in the Shell, Human Traces), Mamoudou Athie (The Front Runner, Unicorn Store, The Get Down), and Jessie Buckley (Judy, Wild Rose, Chernobyl).

Now in its fourth year, TIFF’s Media Inclusion Initiative is a program for 45 emerging journalists. It was developed with the objective of creating a more balanced and representative press corps by assessing and assisting in breaking down the barriers for press from equity-seeking groups, including women, Black people, Indigenous people, people of colour, persons with a disability, and people from the 2SLGBTQ+ communities, seeking to attend and fulsomely cover the Festival. 

This year TIFF has provided accreditation to these journalists, with the added benefit of increased access to guidance from industry professionals and an emphasis on career development. The 2021 program is designed to bring not just access, but experience, networking opportunities and industry knowledge to those unable to get them via traditional means. NBCUniversal and Rotten Tomatoes have provided support for the 2021 Media Inclusion Initiative participants:

  • Alessandra Rangel
  • Alyssa Vitale
  • Amanda Coneen
  • Aviva Dove-Viebahn
  • Caitlin Kennedy
  • DarkSkyLady
  • Caroline Madden
  • Carson Timar
  • Catalina Combs
  • Doug Jamieson
  • Erin M. Brady
  • Fernando Fernandez
  • Gabriela Burgos
  • Ian Thomas Malone
  • Ileana Melendez
  • Jenna Mahale
  • Jesse Webber
  • Josie Meléndez
  • Katie Smith-Wong
  • Kelli Weston
  • Kelly Boutsalis
  • Keno Katsuda
  • Kristen Maldonado
  • Lapacazo Sandoval
  • Latoya Austin
  • Lauren Martinez
  • Lydia Rostant
  • Michelle Kisner 
  • Mie Uzu
  • Nguyen Le
  • Nicola Austin
  • Raul Navedo
  • Reuben Baron
  • Rosa Parra
  • Samuel Earl Leggett Jr
  • Sara Clements
  • Sarah Manvel
  • Siddhant Adlakha
  • Soham Gadre
  • Sophie Butcher
  • Steph Cozza
  • Thomas Stoneham-Judge
  • Thomasena Farrar
  • Zach Gilbert
  • Zofia Wijaszka

Ferdosa Abdi and Alisha Mughal are this year’s Sid Adilman mentees, and their participation and mentorship are supported by the Sid Adilman Endowment Fund at TIFF. 

TIFF has also added one more title to the 2021 Industry Selects lineup, and two speakers to the Visionaries program at TIFF Industry Conference:

The additional film is: I Am Zlatan Jens Sjögren | Sweden 

The 2021 Industry Conference’s Visionaries program offers inspirational sessions with prominent individuals who are forging new creative and business pathways in the industry. The two additions to the Visionaries lineup are: 

Academy Award–nominated, Australian-born cinematographer Greig Fraser joins us to talk about bringing the complex, epic world of this year’s highly anticipated Dune (2021) to life on screen. With a remarkable and varied body of work that includes both critical and commercial successes, including Let Me In (2010), Zero Dark Thirty (2012), Foxcatcher (2014), Lion (2016), Rogue One (2016), and Vice (2018), as well as the upcoming The Batman (2022), Fraser’s approach as a cinematographer stands out in the way it seamlessly supports and complements the storytelling and performances. In this in-depth conversation, Fraser discusses working with director Denis Villeneuve and production designer Patrice Vermette to create a shared artistic, technical and emotional language for Dune, using the written word and imagination to spark visual inspiration and celebrating the beauty of creative collaborations on set. Dune is presented as a Special Event at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

A Share Her Journey Initiative generously supported by Betty-Ann Heggie
Sahraa Karimi is a renowned director and activist, and the first woman to chair Afghan Film. Her first feature, Hava, Maryam, Ayesha (2019), was shot entirely in Kabul with Afghan actors and received critical acclaim at its Venice premiere. On August 13, Karimi called on the international film community to protect filmmakers and other creatives from Taliban violence through a deeply honest open letter. For our closing Industry Conference session, Karimi joins us to speak about fleeing her home country, how the international film community can support and care for Afghan artists, and the role film plays in effecting change.

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