York talent abounds at 2014 Toronto International Film Festival


Running September 4 to 14, the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) showcases more than 300 films from over 60 countries. The productions featured this year in the world’s leading public film festival include an impressive array of talent from York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts. Many of the York alumni selected for screening at TIFF 2014 first cut their festival teeth at CineSiege, the annual juried showcase of York’s Department of Film.

Discovery program

TIFF’s Discovery program presents world premieres of feature films by “directors to watch” from around the world.

In Her Place

Saturday, Sep 6 : 2pm TIFF Lightbox – Cinema 2
Tuesday, Sep 9 : 3:30pm Scotiabank Theatre – Cinema 4

In Her Place, written and directed by York film grad Albert Shin (BFA Spec. Hons. ’06) and co-produced by Shin and Igor Drljača (BFA Spec. Hons. ’07, MFA ‘011), is hailed as a “subtle and surprising” film.  It tells the story of a wealthy couple from Seoul, South Korea who are hoping to adopt the unborn child of a troubled rural teenager. In her preview of In Her Place, TIFF’s Canadian features programmer, York film alumna Agata Smoluch Del Sorbo (MFA ’99), says: “With the discipline and maturity of a veteran director, Shin patiently explores the rhythms and tensions born of the three women’s disparate desires. In Her Place takes you on a sobering, rewarding journey of both great hope and devastating heartbreak, and boldly marks the arrival of a bright new filmmaking talent.”

Shin and Drljača are co-founders of the production company Timelapse Pictures, which produced In Her Place and several films directed by Drljača that previously screened at TIFF.

Wet Bum

Sunday, Sept. 7: 3:45pm, Isabel Bader Isabel Bader Theatre
Wednesday, Sept. 10: 2:15pm, The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Wet Bum, York film alumna Lindsay MacKay’s (BFA ’07) debut feature film, is a charming and poignant” coming-of-age story about an awkward teenager who finds unlikely companions in two elderly residents of the retirement home in which she works.

Canadian stage and screen luminaries Diana Leblanc and Leah Pinsent are among the stellar cast. MacKay, who went on to earn an MFA in directing at the prestigious AFI Conservatory in Los Angeles after graduating from York University, developed Wet Bum in TIFF Studio, TIFF’s industry professional development program.

Big Muddy

Tuesday, Sept. 9: 7pm, Scotiabank Theatre – Cinema 13
Thursday, Sept. 11: 8pm, Scotiabank Theatre – Cinema 9

Nadia Litz
Nadia Litz in the ‘Big Muddy’

Set in rural Saskatchewan, Big Muddy is billed as one part murder mystery, one part suspense, one part Western and big on drama.  Big Muddy features the acting talent of former York film student Nadia Litz in the central role and the behind-the-scenes work of Coral Aiken (MFA ’10) as production manager and co-producer, Fabiola Caraza (MA ‘10) as editor, and Jen Marie Thomas (MA ‘11) as the production designer. “Smartly playing with multiple genres, including the western, thrillers, and American crime films of the sixties and seventies, Big Muddy is a distinct, vividly styled and intense Prairie Gothic that captivates from the first frame,” writes Smoluch Del Sorbo in her preview.

The initial short version was screened in the Cinéfondation Selection at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011 (see YFile, May 17, 2011).

Short Cuts Canada Program

A current York U graduate student and several grads will premiere their short films as part of TIFF’s Short Cuts Canada Programs. Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies alumnus Alexander Rogalski (MA ’07) is a programmer for TIFF’s Short Cuts Canada series.

Liompa (Short Cuts Canada Program 2)

Saturday, Sept. 6: 10pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox – Cinema 3 
Monday, Sept 8: 2:30pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox – Cinema 4
Scene from Liompa
‘Liompa’ by York grad student Elizabeth Lazebnik


Elizabeth Lazebnik (BFA Spec. Hons. ’02), currently completing her MFA in Film at York, is the director, co-producer and writer of Liompa, her thesis production, which is being premiered at TIFF. “Almost everything disappeared. How did it happen?” a man wonders on his deathbed. Liompa stars Russian actor Aleksey Serebryakov, who also stars in the feature film Leviafan by director Andrey Zvyaginsyev, which won Best Screenplay at Cannes.

This is Lazebnik’s second TIFF outing. She made her TIFF debut in 2012 with the short film Safe Room.

Chamber Drama
(Short Cuts Canada Program 3)

Sunday, Sept. 7: 9:45pm Scotiabank Theatre  Scotiabank 14
Monday, Sept. 8: 4:15pm Scotiabank Theatre Scotiabank 9

Jeffrey Zablotny (BFA Spec. Hons. ’09) directed, wrote and edited the short thriller, Chamber Drama. Fellow York film alumna Elli Weisbaum (BFA Spec. Hons. ’09) is the producer, while York contract faculty member Steve Munro provided the sound for the film.

Chamber Drama tells the story of Megan, a stubborn teenager with hypersensitive hearing who gets embroiled in a dangerous situation. Cassie Williams, who stars in the role of Megan in Chamber Drama, is a second-year student and a member of the undergraduate Acting Conservatory in the Department of Theatre at York.

A Tomb with a View (Short Cuts Canada Program 4)

Monday, Sept. 8 6:15pm Scotiabank Theatre Scotiabank 14
Tueday, Sept. 9: 9:15am TIFF Bell Lightbox  Cinema 4

York film alumna Tess Girard (BFA Spec. Hons. ’05) is the cinematographer for A Tomb with a View and Hugh Gibson (BFA Spec. Hons. ’04) is co-producer. The film looks at the world’s tallest cemetery, Memorial Necropole Ecumenica in São Paulo, Brazil, celebrating “the high life in the afterlife”.

Together with the film’s director, Ryan Noth, Gibson is pitching A Tomb with a View as a feature documentary project in TIFF’s PITCH THIS! It’s one of six projects selected for pitch to a live audience of 250 international industry professionals. The winner of the competition, taking place Sept. 8, will receive $15,000 from Telefilm Canada for project development.

Fire/FUOCO (Short Cuts Canada Program 6)

Thursday, Sept. 11: 6:15pm Scotiabank Theatre – Cinema 3
Friday, Sept. 12: 2:45pm Scotiabank Theatre – Cinema 10

Raha Shirazi (BFA Spec. Hons. ’06, MFA ‘012), is the director, co-producer and writer of  Fire/FUOCO, part of a trilogy of shorts. This lyrical film that looks at an ancient Iranian custom that has village men gathering and passing torches to share the flame of light.

Shirazi is no stranger to TIFF. She  has several previous TIFF premieres under her belt and also co-directed (with York alumna Chelsea McMullan) York University’s 50th anniversary documentary The Way Must be Tried (2011).

For more information, visit the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival website.