York Film Downtown brings industry panels to TIFF Bell Lightbox

York ‘s Department of Film has established a new series of high-profile panels to share professional and academic expertise with the next generation of filmmakers and the general public.

York Film Downtown features panel discussions with industry professionals on the art and business of cinema. The presentations, moderated by York film professors, are held downtown in the newly opened TIFF Bell Lightbox. All events in the series are open to the public and free of charge.

“We’re excited to partner with TIFF Bell Lightbox to share with the wider community these important conversations about the contemporary landscape of Canadian film culture,” said Film Department Chair Amnon Buchbinder. “While the series will be of particular interest to those preparing to take their first steps beyond film school, looking to launch a professional career in the industry, we hope these talks will forge new connections for all of us on a multitude of levels.”

Putting Your Docs in a Row, taking place Jan. 27, features filmmakers Min Sook Lee (Tiger Spirit), Robert Lang (Museum Stories, Raw Opium), Angad Bhalla (The House that Herman Built) and broadcaster Jane Jankovic, commissioning editor/producer of Canadian documentaries for TVOntario, in a discussion about the current climate for documentary production. The moderator is Professor Brenda Longfellow, a documentary filmmaker and theorist whose productions include Shadow Maker: Gwendolyn MacEwen, Poet; Tina in Mexico; and Weather Report.

Right: Min Sook Lee

“Documentary production today is undergoing radical changes,” said Longfellow. “From digital accessibility through ongoing transformations of the broadcast world, to new interactive, online and participatory forms of documentary, contemporary documentary filmmakers are confronted with a range of options.

Left: Robert Lang

“What’s constant, however, are the fundamentals of great documentary storytelling. What makes a compelling story? What kinds of inventive and nimble strategies do documentary filmmakers need to nurture in order to survive in this new world? “

Four more events are scheduled in the York Film Downtown’s inaugural season.

Right: Brenda Longfellow

On Feb. 17, Making your First Feature… & Getting it Seen looks at opportunities and challenges facing first-time feature filmmakers. An innovative film distributor and three screenwriter/directors whose debut feature productions are now in theatrical release discuss the strategies they’ve used to overcome the hurdles.

The panellists are:

York alumnus Daniel Cockburn (BFA ‘99), whose “meta detective story” You are Here wowed audiences and critics at the 2010 Locarno, Toronto, Rotterdam and Goteborg film festivals, and in January 2011 garnered Cockburn the Toronto Film Critics Association’s Jay Scott Prize for Emerging Talent.

Right: Daniel Cockburn

Ryan Redford (BFA ‘01), whose drama Oliver Sherman, starring Donal Logue, Molly Parker and Garret Dillahunt, premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival and opens at Toronto’s Cumberland Cinema Feb. 4.

Left: Ryan Redford

Ingrid Veninger, whose bilingual (English/Slovak) coming-of-age film Modra played the Toronto, Atlantic, Bratislava, Vancouver and Sao Paolo festivals, was selected by TIFF as one of Canada’s Top Ten of 2010, and opens at the Royal in Toronto Feb. 11.

Robin Smith (BFA ‘90), president of KinoSmith, an independent distribution and marketing company for Canadian and international films, whose releases include Brigitte Berman’s Hugh Hefner, Guiseppe Tornatore’s The Unknown Woman, Sean Garrity’s Zooey and Adam and Yung Chang’s Up the Yangtze.

The discussion is moderated by Professor Amnon Buchbinder, a screenwriter, director (The Fishing Trip, Whole New Thing), author (The Way of the Screenwriter) and Chair of York’s Department of Film.

Left: Amnon Buchbinder

First Grants: The Horseshoe Nail brings together filmmakers and funders from the Toronto and Ontario Arts Councils, the Canada Council and Bravo!FACT on March 3 to dissect the do’s and don’ts of a successful grant application. Independent filmmaker, Professor John Greyson (Lilies, Proteus, Rex vs. Singh, Fig Trees) moderates the discussion.

In Expanded Narratives for Urban Screens on March 17, media artists explore how narrative has been revolutionized by new story platforms. The session is moderated by Professor Janine Marchessault, Canada Research Chair in Art, Digital Media and Globalization and a co-investigator in the Future Cinema Lab in the Faculty of Fine Arts.

Left: John Greyson

Screenwriters Norman Snider (“Casino Jack”, “Call Me: The Rise and Fall of Heidi Fleiss”), Matt Johnson (“nirvana the band the show”) and Jill Golick (“Ruby Skye P.I.”, “Wimzie’s House”, “Blue Murder”) address the changing universe of writing for TV and the Internet in Breaking into Broadcasting on March 31. The moderator is Professor Howard Wiseman, screenwriter and director (“St. Urbain’s Horseman”, “72 Hours: True Crime”).

The York Film Downtown panels start at 7pm in the Learning Studios at TIFF Bell Lightbox, located in Reitman Square, 350 King St. West.

The series launched Nov. 25, 2010 with Dip, Dip & Swing, a discussion about the challenges of curating for the screen in a digital age, moderated by Professor Sharon Hiyashi. Panellists were Noah Cowan, artistic director of TIFF Bell Lightbox; Lisa Steele, creative director of Vtape; Sarah Robayo Sheridan, director of exhibitions and publications at Mercer Union; and Scott Miller Berry, executive director of the Images Festival.

Right: Janine Marchessault

York Film Downtown is presented under the auspices of the Film Department’s Norman Jewison Series, named in honour of the Canadian film director and producer whose generous support has made this program possible. The series brings distinguished Canadian and international filmmakers, screenwriters, film historians and theorists to meet with students and to present and discuss their work in public forums open to the wider community.