From Ellen Page to Alanis Obomsawin, get to know the folks behind the films at TIFF this Sunday
DGC Ontario's Meet the Makers: Visionaries is free and open to festival goers
This Sunday, September 8th, you'll have the opportunity to brush shoulders with a roster of esteemed artists and craftspeople and gain unique industry insight at DGC Ontario's Meet the Makers: Visionaries at TIFF. The full-day (free and open to the public!) event will bring together a number of visionary documentary and fiction filmmakers, sound and picture editors, and production designers for a series of illuminating panel discussions led by Amanda Parris and Johanna Schneller, hosts of CBC Arts' The Filmmakers. Here's a look at what's in store:
Documentary Panel at 10:00am
From confronting pressing issues that plague marginalized communities across Canada and the globe, to poignant studies of retired cops and rock icons, this group of documentarians explore the ways the world has changed and continues to change.
Ellen Page (There's Something in the Water)
Although she first became a household name over a decade ago for her portrayal of a wisecracking teen, Page's activism has also played a part in her public image for some time now—from hosting and producing Viceland series Gaycation, to wielding her platform to speak out against hate-fuelled leadership (on late-night TV, nonetheless). Making her directorial debut alongside Gaycation co-host Ian Daniel, with There's Something in the Water Page takes on environmental racism—the way climate change disproportionately affects communities of colour—in her home province of Nova Scotia.
Feras Fayyad (The Cave)
Fayyad has devoted his filmmaking career to chronicling the plight of his native Syria, which often involves risking his own life to shed light on the nation in a way the media doesn't. His 2017 effort Last Men in Aleppo received the World Documentary Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and a Best Documentary Oscar nomination, and The Cave, which screens as the opening night film of this year's TIFF Docs programme, spotlights a Syrian underground hospital run by women doctors.
Daniel Roher (Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band)
Even after helming a number of documentary shorts that brought him to the forests of Uganda and a remote Inuit community in Nunavut, Once Were Brothers marks Roher's widest scope to date. Drawing on rare archival footage and interviews with rock 'n' roll legends Eric Clapton and Bruce Springsteen, the film tells the story of The Band—a pivotal piece of Americana rock that was marshaled by a Canadian. The first Canadian doc to screen as TIFF's opening night film, Once Were Brothers also grants 26-year-old Roher the title of youngest filmmaker to ever open the festival.
Alanis Obomsawin (Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger)
Obomsawin adds to her prodigious filmography with the world premiere of Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger, named after an Indigenous boy whose battle with a rare muscle disorder incited a dispute between the Manitoban and Canadian governments, and following the campaigning of Indigenous groups, gave birth to Jordan's Principle. At 86 years old, this is Obomsawin's 53rd film, and rounds off her 2010s cycle of works concerning the rights of Indigenous children.
Alan Zweig (Coppers)
Returning to subject matter formerly probed in his 2009 doc on former inmates, A Hard Name, noted Canadian documentarian Alan Zweig now points his cameras at retired police officers, who recount tales from their days on the force that range from amusing to shattering. In routine fashion, Zweig zeroes in on the effects of trauma to cast everyday figures in a new light.
Picture Editors at 11:30
With backgrounds in prestige TV and Canadian indie cinema, this panel of picture editors shows just how crucial the decisions made in the editing room can be towards piecing together a riveting story that connects with audiences.
Eamonn O'Connor (Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band)
Having made a career cutting an assortment of music-centric documentaries, from the Gemini Award-winning miniseries Yonge Street: Toronto Rock & Roll Stories to Hip-Hop Evolution, O'Connor worked closely with director Daniel Roher, using archive footage to interweave the past and present in one big, booming profile of rock 'n' roll giant Robbie Robertson.
Jorge Weisz (Castle in the Ground)
This CSA-nominated editor counts myriad Canadian and Mexican indies among his credits, not the least of which includes Joey Klein's latest work, Castle in the Ground, whose carefully constructed visuals reflect the characters' internal states as they lose contact with reality under the grip of drug addiction.
Susan Shipton (Guest of Honour)
Shipton first collaborated with Atom Egoyan on 1991's The Adjuster and has gone on to edit nearly every one of his films since, over a decade-spanning career that includes The Sweet Hereafter and Chloe. She returns once more as the editor of his latest effort, Guest of Honour.
Kelley Dixon (The Goldfinch)
After years spent as an editor on both Breaking Bad and its spinoff Better Call Saul, Dixon makes her theatrical feature debut with The Goldfinch, a film whose editing plays an integral role as the story alternates between two timeframes: that of young Theo (Oakes Fegley), the 13-year-old survivor of a bombing that kills his mother, and early-20s Theo (Ansel Elgort), whose troubled childhood has resulted in an adulthood entrenched in addiction, grief, and the criminal underworld of art forgery.
Sound Editors at 1:00
From fine-tuning thundering explosions to the lowest of whispers, this slate of sound editors has mastered every aspect of their crafts working on beloved series including Game of Thrones and The Handmaid's Tale.
Onnalee Blank (Just Mercy)
Deviating from her early career as a professional ballerina, Blank first worked with director Destin Daniel Cretton as a re-recording mixer on his debut feature I Am Not a Hipster, and teamed up with him once more for the sound on his films Short Term 12 and The Glass Castle. Blank additionally spent some time on a little-known show called Game of Thrones, and worked in the sound departments of recent TIFF favourites Moonlight, Destroyer, and If Beale Street Could Talk.
Steve Munro (Guest of Honour)
Ever since serving as a sound editor on Atom Egoyan's Family Viewing, Munro has become a near-permanent fixture in the Canadian director's filmography, going on to win a Genie Award for Achievement in Sound Editing for his work on The Sweet Hereafter. Munro is also the founder of the Toronto-based sound design firm Trackworks Inc.
Jane Tattersall (American Woman)
Recently lending her expertise to The Handmaid's Tale, Schitt's Creek, and Vikings—the latter of which earned her two Emmy nominations—Tattersall is one of the most prolific sound editors working in the city, and her company Tattersall Sound & Picture is behind a range of Toronto-shot productions.
Emilie Boucek (The Rest of Us / Tammy's Always Dying)
Boucek got her start as a dialogue editor on TV series including Lost Girl and the US Skins, and proceeded to work in the sound departments of a number of features, from The Other Half to Colossal. Boucek has 2 films premiering at TIFF this year: Aisling Chin-Yee's The Rest of Us and Amy Jo Johnson's Tammy's Always Dying.
Directors at 2:30
This quartet of Canadian filmmakers have already all proven themselves as names to watch out for. Now, they're following their celebrated previous projects with new explorations of addiction, abduction, family bonds, and unlikely companions.
Semi Chellas (American Woman)
Chellas is renowned for her background in TV—from her work on the hit CTV series The Eleventh Hour, to penning a number of Emmy-nominated episodes of Mad Men, to writing and producing on Matthew Weiner's follow-up project The Romanoffs. Chellas's feature directorial debut, American Woman, stars Hong Chau as an activist who becomes involved in the abduction of Patty Hearst.
Joey Klein (Castle in the Ground)
Montreal-raised Klein built a career in front of the camera before slipping into the director's chair with his feature film The Other Half, starring Tatiana Maslany and Tom Cullen. His work, which probes mental illness and addiction, is becoming known for its therapeutic elements.
Amy Jo Johnson (Tammy's Always Dying)
While she first rocketed to fame in her early 20s as the Pink Ranger in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Johnson finally got her chance to step behind the camera after settling in Canada, graduating from the Canadian Film Centre, and launching a crowdfunding campaign to make her debut feature The Space Between. Johnson's sophomore effort, Tammy's Always Dying, casts Anastasia Phillips as the daughter of an alcoholic woman, played by Felicity Huffman, who is diagnosed with cancer.
Albert Shin (Clifton Hill)
Bringing his anticipated follow-up to 2014's In Her Place to this year's festival, Shin compiles a powerhouse cast—including Tuppence Middleton, Hannah Gross, Noah Reid and David Cronenberg—in Clifton Hill, the story of a young woman whose memories of a kidnapping resurface after inheriting a Niagara Falls motel.
Production Designers at 4:00
The linuep of production designers coming together as part of this panel are the world-builders responsible for the eclectic visual design of 2019 TIFF selections that span the kitchens of Hamilton restaurants, the suburbs of Sudbury, a grayscale Nova Scotian seaside, and the tracks of a historic French car race.
Phillip Barker (Guest of Honour)
A frequent Atom Egoyan collaborator responsible for designing as disparate environments as the tragedy-stricken small town of The Sweet Hereafter to the '50s Miami of Where the Truth Lies, Barker is an equally accomplished installation artist and short filmmaker whose work was showcased in a retrospective that toured Canadian and French cinematheques.
Zosia Mackenzie (Castle in the Ground)
Mackenzie's production design work can be witnessed across a breadth of contemporary Ontario cinema, including Guidance, Operation Avalanche, The Other Half, Giant Little Ones, and this year's Castle in the Ground, which marks her second time collaborating with director Joey Klein.
Craig Lathrop (The Lighthouse)
Even though he hails from the world moviemaking capital, Lathrop left his native LA and now resides in Toronto. His production design on 2015 period horror The Witch, which involved building sets from the same tools and materials that would have been used during the film's historical era, gained him the recognition of both the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Directors Guild of Canada. For The Lighthouse, Lathrop's team built a full-scale lighthouse on volcanic rock in Nova Scotia.
François Audouy (Ford v Ferrari)
This French-born production designer got his start as a concept illustrator, graphic designer, and art director for a number of high-profile Hollywood features. Before working together on this year's Ford v Ferrari, Audouy established a relationship with director James Mangold by crafting the worlds of The Wolverine and Logan, and he also counts The Greatest Showman, Jurassic World, and the forthcoming Ghostbusters 2020 among his credits.
Meet the Makers: Visionaries at TIFF will take place on Sunday, September 8th at 461 King Street West in the heart of the festival sphere.