A still from Destiny, which opens the Reel World Film Festival on April 2. (Photo: Reel World Film Festival)
Mark your calendars: tomorrow is opening night of the Reel World Film Festival in Toronto.
The festival was started in 1999 by the actor Tonya Lee Williams (best known as Dr. Olivia Barber Winters on The Young and the Restless), and its mandate is to showcase the broad range of talent in the Canadian film industry, by giving exposure to filmmakers from a wide range of backgrounds and communities. The programming is culturally and racially diverse, with a focus on Canadian content (though more than 140 countries have been represented by the film festival so far).
This year's festival runs over four days (with an encore presentation in Markham, just north of Toronto, next week) and offers an impressive lineup of films.
The opening night gala screening of Destiny, by Toronto filmmaker Jeremy Whittaker, is particularly exciting. Whittaker's film tells the story of a recent college graduate, Lisa, whose pursuit of a music career takes her from Toronto to Jamaica, where most of the action takes place. Whittaker himself grew up in Jamaica, and his film tries to capture a sense of the place that most audiences might not have seen before.
“It’s a different kind of Jamaican story,” Whittaker told the Toronto Star. “Very real, but nothing to do with guns and violence. But a lot of drama and twists and turns, and it captures the music culture there.”
The movie screens on April 2 at 6:30 p.m. at Canada Square, and again on April 12 at 2:30 p.m. at First Markham Place Cinemas.
This year's festival also includes a film made by two staffers on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight. Philip Leung and Alex Narvaez are the directors of My Heritage, a mockumentary short about a white boy adopted and raised in Toronto by a first-generation Asian father.
My Heritage runs on April 5 at 6 p.m. at Canada Square, and again on April 13 at 2:30 p.m. at First Markham Place Cinemas. And you can watch the trailer for it below: