When going through the submissions, I noticed that we received quite a few horror and sci-f- films this year. It’s great to see young filmmakers taking the risk of making films in these genres that are not always taken seriously. I was impressed with the sophistication that the filmmakers brought to these genres. For example the Korean Horror film Footprints, directed by Kevin Saychareun, tells a suspenseful story of family and guilt with a seamless blend of the supernatural and the real. The Sci-Fi short Dreaming is a Private Thing by AJ Smith presents a post-apocalyptic world from the unique point of view of a filmmaking robot; in this way, he shows the search for humanity within a futuristic society that any film buff would appreciate.
I was happy to see a good number of films showcasing different cultural backgrounds. FIlms such as Bosniak (directed by Kedj Kuqo) and Blue Eyed Drunks (directed by Abdul Malik) tackle themes that everyone can relate to (survival and acceptance) against the backdrop of the Bosnian War, and from the perspective of Pakistani-Canadian teenagers respectively. With the majority of North American films giving actors of different ethnicities minor roles, it is refreshing to see these young filmmakers showcasing stories and talent from all over the world.
Finally, I was delighted to see many submissions that focused on strong female characters and contemporary gender issues. I am proud to present to our program Who We Are and its collection of films dedicated to empowering women. The documentaries A New Reflection (Pauline Beal & Lindsay Fontatine), Being Tessa (Erin Harris), and Pretty Dangerous (Dan Laera) tell inspiring stories of young women overcoming physical differences and gender stereotypes to pursue their dreams. Phoebe’s Declassified Guide to Unwanted Pick Ups (Rebecca Gao), written and starring Degrassi’s Sara Waisglass, deals with the common issue of unwanted come-ons in a hilarious yet insightful way.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed programming this year’s festival, and can’t wait to share these wonderful films with you all!