AMPD alumni at the Toronto International Film Festival

Alumni from York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) have films appearing at the 46th annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which runs until Sept. 17.

This year, TIFF features several School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) alumni sharing their talent on and off the screen, contributing to AMPD’s ongoing impact on the fine arts.  

“From Matt Johnson and Matt Miller’s Blackberry in wide theatrical release to Salar Pashtoonar’s Bad Omen receiving a Student Academy Award, as well as countless invitations to the Berlinale, TIFF, HotDocs and almost every other film festival around the globe – each recognition of a work by a York graduate from the BFA or MFA program in Cinema & Media Arts is also an endorsement of the creative collaboration between faculty, staff and students at York University’s production and screenwriting program to nurture creative talent in an inclusive and supportive environment,” says Manfred Becker, master of fine arts (MFA) graduate program director in York’s Department of Cinema & Media Arts.

Cinema & Media Arts alumni screenings this year at the festival

Atefeh Khademolreza
Atefeh Khademolreza

Meteor, directed by Atefeh Khademolreza (MFA ’19), is a Persian-language short film exploring grief and defiance in the face of the repression suffered by women and the LGBTQ+ community in Iran.

The TIFF world premiere of Swan Song, directed by Chelsea McMullan (MFA ’10) and shot by co-director of photography Tess Girard (BFA ’05), is a feature-length documentary examining the National Ballet of Canada’s 2022 production of Swan Lake, choreographed for the first time by the company’s artistic director Karen Kain, who famously debuted in the ballet in 1971, and chose Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s work as her retirement project.

Ivan D. Ossa

I Don’t Know Who You Are, also a world premiere, is the debut film of M. H. Murray (BFA ’15). It focuses on a Toronto musician who, after a sexual assault, spends a weekend trying to find the money for HIV-preventive treatment.

Express, a 22-minute short film directed by Ivan D. Ossa (BFA ’21), follows a young man, who prides himself on his drive and determination who makes some tough discoveries as he awaits some big news.

Theatre alumni among this year’s TIFF Rising Stars

Amrit Kaur
Amrit Kaur

Theatre alumni Amrit Kaur (BFA ’15) is among this year’s cohort of TIFF Rising Stars. The Rising Stars program provides exclusive access to professional development, mentorship sessions and industry events for emerging actors.

Kaur is best known for her breakout role on Mindy Kaling and Justin Noble’s HBO Max hit series The Sex Lives of College Girls, and her performance has been praised by critics like the Chicago Sun Times’ Richard Roeper as “funny,” “clever” and “captivating.”

“There is nothing more gratifying than witnessing the professional success of our graduates. We know that degrees in the performing arts lead to career success in film, television and a range of other media. It’s great to see Amrit’s success across international screens and to celebrate her recognition by TIFF,” shared AMPD Dean Sarah Bay-Cheng.

Kaur appears at TIFF this year in The Queen of My Dreams, directed by Fawzia Mirza, as Azra, a queer Muslim grad student travelling back to her ancestral home in Pakistan. Set in 1999, she returns home after the sudden death of her father, Hassan (Hamza Haq). Her stern mother, Mariam (Nimra Bucha), demands she play the role of the perfect grieving daughter. But through flashbacks to Mariam’s own life in Karachi 30 years before, the film shows the connections uniting mother and daughter, starting with their shared love of Bollywood star Sharmila Tagore.

AMPD invites other alum who want to be celebrated as part of TIFF to reach out to through the Faculty’s social media channel on X, formerly known as Twitter: @YorkUAMPD.