Toronto festival screens York students’ film

The School, a 12-minute film made by recent York grads Ezra Krybus and Matthew Miller, is hitting the festival circuit in a big way, including the Toronto International Film Festival next week.

Right: Children count beans in The School

Based on a short story by American writer Donald Barthelme, this darkly comedic fable explores what happens when everything starts to die in Mr. Gibson’s Grade 2 class. The children’s beans die, the fish die and the children ask their teacher why.

Left: Director Matthew Miller talks to child actor between takes

Miller remembered reading the story in Grade 9 and proposed adapting it for film as a fourth-year production project last year with Krybus. The two jointly wrote, directed and edited the film. Krybus was also director of photography and Miller, producer. The creative team was made up entirely of York film and video students and another recent grad, Dan Dimopoulos, who designed the production.

Krybus and Miller wrote the screenplay, then filmed it over 16 days during the winter holidays.

Right: Ezra Krybus shoots winter scene

Playing the teacher is A.J. Pittis, a graduate of George Brown College who has acted at the Stratford Festival. Krybus and Miller auditioned and cast professional child actors as his class. The entire cast worked for free and gave up Christmas break to film, says a grateful Miller.

The film cost $12,000 to make and publicize, he says. He and Krybus financed the production and spent the summer sending out tapes and press kits to festivals. “We’ve had a perfect track record so far,” says Miller. The School is showing at 12 festivals in North America this fall.

Left: A.J. Pittis plays teacher Edgar Gibson


It will be screened twice at one of the most prestigious, the Toronto International Film Festival, as part of the Perspective Canada series. It shows Sept. 9 at 9:30pm and Sept. 12 at 8:45am at the Royal Ontario Museum cinema. Watch for reviews after a special media- and industry-only screening on Sept. 6. In late September it will become the first Canadian film shown at the Manhattan Short Film Festival.

To date, nine festival screenings have been confirmed:

  • International Student Film Festival of Hollywood, Sept. 3-14
  • Toronto International Film Festival, Sept. 4-13
  • Atlantic Film Festival (Halifax), Sept. 12-20
  • Cinefest Sudbury, Sept. 15-21
  • Los Angeles Short Film Festival, Sept. 16-22
  • Palm Springs International Short Film Festival, Sept. 16-22
  • Vancouver International Film Festival, Sept. 25-Oct. 10
  • Manhattan Short Film Festival, Sept. 28
  • Chicago International Film Festival, Oct. 2-14

Krybus and Miller are madly fundraising to cover their travel costs to attend these festivals and to finance upcoming projects.

They are continuing to work with Sascha Drews, a filmmaker and musician who produced the sound and original music for The School. The three have written a short screenplay, The Drizzle, now in preproduction in Germany and are currently working on a feature-length screenplay.

Anyone wishing to make a contribution towards the travel costs of these two film artists is invited to contact Matthew Miller at 647-292-4407.