Getting a career off the ground can be daunting for some, especially if you are young and new to your chosen path. For young up-and-coming filmmakers, getting noticed by the public and the filmmaking community can seem especially challenging. But there is one film festival in Toronto that hopes to remedy that. On the eve of the 2016 edition of the Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival, Paul Krumholz, one of the festival’s programmers, shared in this guest post some of this thoughts about the purpose of the festival, as well as some detail as to where they source the young filmmakers that they feature:
What were your favourite filmmakers doing before they became famous? If they’re anything like the ones whose work we feature in Toronto Youth Shorts, they were hustling – to squeeze writing sessions in between classes and day jobs, to hunt for funding sources, and to convince friends to donate their time and labour. Even once a film is finished, getting it in front of eyeballs can be a whole new challenge.
Since 2009, the Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival has tried to help with that last part, providing a forum for the best up-and-coming, under-30 filmmakers in the GTA to share their work. While there’s no road map for young filmmakers trying to develop their careers, we hope that our festival can be one of the stops along the way, where good work can reach a wider audience of colleagues, industry professionals, and cinema fans.
As a not-for-profit, volunteer-run organization, our staff puts this festival together every year because we believe in the importance of investing in the next generation of Canadian film talent. And as someone who grew up outside Canada, I’m especially proud to live in a place that supports its artists as much as Torontonians do, which is why I’ve contributed to the festival as a programmer over the last two years.
The process by which we put together our lineup is more active than most festivals. In addition to soliciting films through the normal avenues, we take advantage of the fact that Toronto is home to some of the best film schools in North America. Each spring, our programmers trek around the GTA to attend screenings at high schools, colleges and universities, in search of work we think deserves a bigger audience. This year’s lineup features 44 films, chosen from over 200 submissions (and the hundreds more our programmers watched in the community). One of the upsides of this method is that it gives us a sense of what themes and issues are important to young Torontonians in a given year. In addition to the aesthetic criteria by which we evaluate our submissions, we value cultural relevance in the work we choose to program.
We also hope that our lineup represents the diversity of the cinematic work produced by young people in our city. Of the 44 films in this year’s lineup, more than half are directed by women, and a quarter feature non-white actors or subjects in the lead role. In particular, I’m excited to share some of this year’s documentaries and animated films, which I think break new ground for the quality of work we’ve shown.
We invite you to join us in celebrating the next generation of Toronto filmmakers this Saturday, August 6 at Innis College at University of Toronto. For more information and to order tickets, visit torontoyouthshorts.ca