Meet the New Filmmakers Awarded at TIFF ’17

Alongside Sundance and SXSW, the Toronto International Film Festival’s reputation for platforming new filmmakers continues to grow with a crop of new names scoring major awards at this year’s event.

New Machine Magazine’s Ana Stefanovic delved deeper into the list of winners to reveal more insight about the newer filmmakers awarded.

S. Craig Zahler – Brawl In Cell Block 99

Country: USA
Award: The Grolsch People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award – Third Place
Synopsis: A former boxer-turned-drug runner lands in a prison battleground after a deal gets deadly.

About a filmmaker:

  • S. Craig Zahler was born in Miami, Florida.
  • Craig graduated from NYU film school, focusing on cinematography.
  • In addition to film, he is an accomplished musician and novelist, who has written novels including western, crime and science fiction.
  • He wrote, directed and co-composed the score for the 2015 film Bone Tomahawk
    Bone Tomahawk, which starred Kurt Russell, won the José Luis Guarner Critic’s Award – for Best Director at the Sitges – Catalonian International Film Festival.
  • As a drummer, lyricist and singer, Craig is a member of the heavy metal band Realmbuilder.

JR co-directed with Agnès Varda – Visages, Villages (Faces, Places)

Country: France
Award: The Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award
Synopsis: Director Agnes Varda and photographer/muralist J.R. journey through rural France and form an unlikely friendship.

About the filmmaker:

  • JR is an actor, director and photographer, who prefers to keep his identity secret.
  • JR started his career after finding a camera in the Paris metro, and traveled Europe to meet those who express themselves on walls and facades, and pasted their portraits in the streets, undergrounds and rooftops of Paris.
  • The documentary Visages, Villages (France, 2017) is co-directed with Agnès Varda,
  • The film also won Palme de Whiskers and Golden Eye at Cannes Film Festival; was nominated for Best Documentary at Melbourne International Film Festival, for Documentary Film at London Film Festival, for Best Documentary at Adelaide Film Festival, all in 2017.
  • When Agnes and JR met in 2015, they immediately wanted to work together, to make a film in France, far from the cities.
  • JR also directed short movie Ellis (2015), starring Robert De Niro and Les bosquets (2015) a ballet and eponymous short film, nominated for Best Documentary Short at Tribeca Film Festival 2015.
  • His feature documentary Women Are Heroes (2010) was nominated at Cannes Film Festival 2010 for Golden Camera.
  • JR’s Face 2 Face (2007) was the biggest illegal exhibition ever (he didn’t get official permission to place large scale photos on Palestinian or Israeli walls). It involved taking portraits of Palestinians and Israelis who have the same job and pasting them face to face, in huge formats, in unavoidable places, on both Israeli and Palestinian sides of the wall.
  • He creates pervasive art that he puts up on the buildings in the Paris area projects, on the walls of the Middle East, on the broken bridges of Africa or in the favelas of Brazil. In his artistic acts, no scene separates the actors from the spectators.

Follow JR on Instagram and Facebook.

Sadaf Foroughi – Ava

Country: Canada
Award: International Critics’ Award (FIPRESCI) and Best Canadian First Feature Film – Honorable Mention
Synopsis: Ava’s life is dictated by rules. Coming of age in Iran, she faces pressure to conform to the expectations of her parents, her school, and her friends. When Ava learns that her parents were once flagrant rule breakers themselves, she begins to rebel against the very foundations of her society.

About the filmmaker :

  • Sadaf Foroughi was born in 1976 in Tehran, Iran and is now based in Montreal
  • Sadaf has a bachelor degree in French literature and also works as a film editor
  • After receiving her Masters degree in film studies from University of Provence in Aix-en-Provence, France, she went on to complete her doctorate in film philosophy.
  • She also studied film at New York Film Academy.
    Sadaf began her artistic career in 2003, when she started to create and produce short films, documentaries and video art pieces
  • In 2005 she was selected to participate in the Berlinale Talent Campus as a writer-director.
  • She is the permanent member of the Iranian Short Film Society (ISFA) since 2005 and the permanent member of the Société Des Auteurs & Compositeurs Dramatiques (SCAM) since 2010.

See Sadaf’s portfolio on Vimeo.

Huang Hsin-Yao – The Great Buddha+

Country: Taiwan
Award: Netpac Award
Synopsis: A Buddha statue, three middle-aged men and a mysterious woman. The unexpected encounter among them creates a story of suspense. Will the Buddha protect everyone of us? Or does He choose the right ones at His own will? If we are nobody with no money, is the Buddha still willing to protect us? Or, is the Buddha statue no longer the Buddha we believe?!

About the filmmaker:

  • Hsin-yao Huang was born in 1973 in Tainan, Taiwan.
  • He is an independent filmmaker and writer based in Taiwan
  • His works have been featured at Documenta 2003 at Kassel (Germany), 2004 Taipei Biennial (Taiwan), 2011 London International Documentary Film Festival (U.K.) and the 12th International Environmental Film and Video Festival (Brazil).
  • His feature documentary, comedy, Taivalu (2010), won the Grand Prize and the Best Documentary at the 2011 Taipei Film Festival, and the Merit Prize at the 2010 Taiwan International Documentary Film Festival.
  • His follow up, A-li 88 (2012), was nominated for Best Documentary at Taipei Film Festival in 2013.
  • The Short The Great Buddha (2014) was nominated for Best Short Film at Golden Horse Film Festival in 2014 and for Best Short Film at Taipei Film Festival in 2015
  • The Great Buddha + is Huang’s first narrative film.
  • The film won the Audience Choice Award, Best Narrative Feature, Outstanding Artistic Contribution in Editing, Outstanding Artistic Contribution in Music, Outstanding Artistic Contribution in Art Design, Taipei Grand Award and International New Talent Competition – Grand Prize at Taipei Film Festival in 2017.

Wayne Wapeemukwa –  Luk’ Luk’l

Country: Canada
Award: City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film
Synopsis: A portrait of five Vancouverites living on society’s fringes during the 2010 Winter Olympics, Luk’Luk’I takes us into uncharted territory, falling somewhere between a fiction we need to see and a documentary we wish didn’t have to exist.

  • About filmmaker:
  • Wayne Wapeemukwa is a Canadian film director and screenwriter
  • He earned a B.A. from the University of British Columbia and an M.A. in Philosophy and Psychoanalysis at the New School for Social Research, New York.
  • He premiered his two short films at consecutive Toronto International Film Festivals including Foreclosure (2013) & Luk’Luk’I Mother (2014).
  • He premiered Balmoral Hotel (2014), at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian’s Native Cinema Showcase.
  • Inspired by a radical hope for a more equal and sovereign future, Wayne aspires to keep filming stories and volatilizing desire in order to contribute his personal definition to film form.

Marc-Antoine Lemire – Pre-Drink

Award: IWC Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Short Film
Country: Canada
Synopsis: Alexe is a young trans woman, and Carl a gay man. Best friends since forever, an evening spent together destabilizes Alexe, when both decide to have sex together for the first time.

About filmmaker:

  • Marc-Antoine Lemire is a Canadian film director based in Montreal.
  • He is a graduate of the film studies program at the Université du Québec à Montréal, where he won the Prix du meilleur espoir en cinéma documentaire (a prize for most promising documentarian) in 2013.
  • His breakthrough come with his 2015 short film Les Méduses, which screened at film festivals across Canada and internationally.
  • The short was inspired by his passion for independent film and a desire to shrug off academic techniques, he said.
    He has also worked in the art department for other films, mostly as an art director and propmaster, in between his own projects.
    Marc-Antoine has stated that he is more interested in “daring and sensitive films that to focus on a character’s point of view rather than on technique.”

Follow Marc-Antione on Twitter.

Niki Lindroth von Bahr – The Burden

Award: IWC Short Cuts Award for Best Short Film
Country: Sweden
Synopsis: An animated musical with apocalyptic undertones. The story is divided into four episodes which takes place in a supermarket, a long term hotel, a call center and a hamburger restaurant. The theme is invisible modern day labor for wages and existential anxiety. The atmosphere spans from cheerful tap routines to nightmarish black.

About filmmaker:

  • Niki Lindroth von Bahr was born in 1984 in Stockholm, Sweden
  • She is an artist and animation director based in Stockholm
  • She studied set design/prop making at Nordiska Scenografiskolan in Skelleftea, animation/experimental film at Diagonalakademin in Stockholm and got her master degree in fine art at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm.
  • Works as a freelancing prop maker, puppet maker and animator with a studio in Stockholm.
  • Along with making her own films, Niki also works with sculpture and costume design.
  • In 2016, she and Nicklas Nilsson designed and made the costumes for David Bowies music video Blackstar, directed by Johan Renck
  • Her short animation, comedy Min börda (2017) won Grand Prize at Vila do Conde International Short Film Festival and Short Film Award at Göteborg Film Festival as well as Cristal at Annecy International Animated Film Festival; it won First Prize at Fantoche – International Animation Film Festival, won Best Short Film and Short Film at Melbourne International Film Festival; it was nominated for Illy Prize at Cannes Film Festival all in 2017.
  • Her short animation, comedy Bath House (2014) was nominated for Short Film Award at Göteborg Film Festival, Gold Hugo at Chicago International Film Festival and Grand Jury Prize at AFI Fest, all in 2014 and for Short Film Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival in 2015
  • Her short animation drama Tord och Tord (2011) was nominated for Gold Hugo at Chicago International Film Festival and for The Annecy Cristal at Annecy International Animated Film Festival in 2010; it was nominated for Short Filmmaking Award at Sundance Film Festival in 2011.