Get to Know the Residents of the 2023 Norman Jewison Film Program

Posted: Jul 10, 2023

Today is the first official day of residency for the 2023 cohort of the Norman Jewison Film Program. We are thrilled to welcome 18 new storytellers to the CFC campus and into the CFC family! We look forward to watching them grow as creators throughout the program, while advancing their skills and taking the next steps to accelerate their careers in the screen industry.

The Norman Jewison Film Program is known industry-wide as a vital incubator for bold new voices and original content and for launching some of Canada’s most prolific and celebrated creators. These program alumni can be found in all corners of the industry, fuelling and enriching our industry and our screens with their creativity, content and passion.

Throughout the 5 ½ month residency, this year’s residents will participate in a variety of intensive and immersive workshops, case studies, industry sessions and collaborations that will help advance their narrative storytelling skills, grow their body of work and build their creative community. 
Read more about the 2023 Norman Jewison Film Program residents below and keep an eye out for these creators as they make their mark on the industry as they share their unique voices, stories and perspectives with audiences in Canada and around the world.


A collage of 5 headshots of filmmakers
(Top to bottom, L-R) Ian Bawa, Raghed Charabaty, Yuwi Kang, Fateema Al-Hamaydeh Miller, Leah Johnston

Fateema Al-Hamaydeh Miller (she/her)

Fateema Al-Hamaydeh Miller is a mixed-race Palestinian filmmaker based in Toronto. Her work explores themes of fragmented identity, isolation and connection through grounded “oh no, should I laugh?” comedy. Fateema is particularly passionate about creating nuanced and humanizing representations of Arabs and Muslims for the screen and prioritizes making space for marginalized voices in front of and behind the camera. She is a Women in the Director’s Chair alumni, Toronto Arab Film Festival commission recipient and Cinephilia Productions Film and TV Development Workroom alum. Fateema whole-heartedly believes in laughter as resistance and in telling stories that are subversive and soft.

“My work as a filmmaker circles around themes of grief, fracture, and post-traumatic growth. Drawing inspiration from my lived experience and my own healing journey, I am excited by the exploration of the depths of human experience and finding absurdity and levity in the painful gift of being alive.”

Ian Bawa

Ian Bawa is a South Asian filmmaker from Winnipeg, Manitoba. He’s best known for his films Offline, The Champ, Imitations, Tapeworm, and Seeking Fire. His short film, Strong Son, which he is currently adapting into a feature, premiered at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival. His latest short, My Son Went Quiet, is set to be released later this year. He is also directing and co-starring with his dog Diamond in the upcoming documentary series Finding Diamonds for CBC Gem. Ian is a proud alumni of the University of Winnipeg, the TIFF Filmmaker Lab, ReelWorld’s E20 and Hollywood Connector Program, National Screen Institute’s Totally TV and Business for Producers Program, the Netflix/BANFF’s Diversity of Voices Initiative, and National Film Board’s Creation Lab.

“What makes a great movie or story is authenticity and vulnerability. Films are allowed to be fun, funny, sad, dramatic, cheesy, etc. – but they should also have the ability to be honest and truthful to whatever the filmmaker is trying to say. When a filmmaker is truly authentic and vulnerable in telling their story they are able to connect with their audience and keep them interested, and more importantly, keep them watching.”

Leah Johnston (she/her)

Leah Johnston is a filmmaker from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her short films Some Thing Wont Sleep (’14), My Younger Older Sister (’15), Ingrid and the Black Hole (’16) and Mother’s Skin (’22) have played in festivals around the world, including Shanghai International Film Festival and Fantasia Film Festival, taking home multiple awards including Best Canadian Short from Edmonton International Film Festival and the Corus Fearless Female Filmmaker Award from National Screen Institute. Through her production company, Pretty Fierce Films, she is developing her first feature supported by Canada Council for the Arts, and two television series supported by Bell Fund/CMF, including a Y.A. sci-fi series with co-creator/co-showrunner Rachael Schaefer (The Next Step) and E.P. Michael Goldsmith (Malory Towers), and a true-crime mini-series with co-creator Jason Buxton (Blackbird).

“I’m interested in exploring the interplay between our conscious and our unconscious selves – between what is happening on the surface and the secret and oftentimes hidden desires that lie beneath. The tension between these two warring sides is fundamental to our human experience, and by looking at it, I am trying to better understand not only my characters, but also myself.”

Raghed Charabaty (they/them)

Raghed Charabaty is a Lebanese-Canadian filmmaker. Their films have screened and won at TIFF Canada’s Top Ten and the Festival du Nouveau Cinema, among many others. They are a two-time alumnus of the Netflix-BANFF DOV Pitch Program 22/23, as well as the BIPOC TV & Film x WarnerBros Writers Lab 2022. Raghed is a recipient of the 2017 SSHRC Award in Honour of Nelson Mandela. Their work is in the permanent collections at the Anna Leonowens and SMU Art Galleries and has been featured in Canadian Art, Aesthetica, and Tribe Photo. Raghed holds an MFA in Film from YorkU.

“[Where I find creative inspiration is] in the corners, at the edges, in the peripheries. Through a broken window where the sunlight scatters. Have you ever skipped a step in your dream? In the place where the desert meets the sea. The failing spotlight, twinkling at the club. In the liminal space between a breakfast that has gone cold and the hot coffee you just made. In a song you love but can only hum.”

Yuqi Kang (she/her)

Yuqi Kang is a Chinese Mongol filmmaker. Her feature debut, A Little Wisdom, premiered at Busan International Film Festival and SXSW. It was awarded the Best Canadian Feature Documentary at Hot Docs, Grand Jury Award at DOC NYC, and was named one of the five breakthrough directors by the Director Guild of Canada. Yuqi is an alumna of Tribeca Institute, Hot Docs, Chicken & Egg Pictures, FIRST Doc Lab as well as RIDM Talent Lab for her documentary projects. She is also a part of the TIFF Talent Lab as well as the Canadian Academy Directors Program for Women for her fiction projects. In 2019, Yuqi was named in DOC NYC’s 40 Under 40 list. She holds a BFA in Drawing from Alberta University of the Arts and an MFA in Filmmaking from the School of Visual Arts in New York, where she was awarded the Paula Rhodes Memorial Award for Exceptional Achievement in Social Documentary Film. 

“The greatest magic of cinema for me is when I could be fully immersed in another person’s life. I get to experience their world and live through their joy and pain in life. Its transcendent power in filmmaking can potentially achieve keeps me motivated as a storyteller. I believe any films can give me these human experiences are great movies.”


A collage of five headshots of filmmakers.
(L-R) Isoken Ogiemwonyi, Kevin Dong, Nic Altobelli, Lee Marshall, Malachi Ellis

Isoken Ogiemwonyi (she/her)

Isoken is a Canadian-Nigerian writer, producer and entrepreneur. She produced two seasons of the acclaimed book to series adaptation of the best selling The Smart Money Woman, which was nominated for Best TV Series by the AMVCA . She was named a Top 25 African Woman Achiever by the Guardian UK, and is a recipient of the MTN Young Creative Entrepreneur Award. She was inaugurated as part of the 2021 cohort of Canada’s Reelworld Screen Institute’s Emerging 20 writers and producers accelerator program. She studied in England and Switzerland and her work is informed by the intersection of her identity, experiences and living across multiple continents.

“As a writer and producer, I am interested in exploring multidimensional and relatable characters that viewers can connect with. I want to showcase characters that are flawed and complex, and who defy the idea of Blackness as a monolith. Overall, my goal is to tell layered, authentic stories that resonate with audiences and challenge industry conditioning that Black and African stories don’t travel, and are not compelling or commercially viable.”

Kevin Dong (he/him)

Kevin Dong is a producer based in Calgary, Treaty 7 region, Alberta. Deeply informed by his prairie-tinged Chinese-Canadian upbringing, Kevin pursues a producing practice aimed at nurturing distinct, creator-driven works from unique, underseen, and unexpected places. Through Telefilm’s Talent to Watch program, he produced the feature comedy Events Transpiring Before, During, and After a High School Basketball Game (dir. Ted Stenson). He also produced an hourlong “Rat Patrol” documentary called Living Without Menace for CBC Gem.

“Great movies use the expressive possibilities of the artform to tell engaging stories, generate deep or complex feelings, and offer up new experiences of the world for its audience to share in. A great movie grabs hold of an audience and binds them together in emotional communion. The greatest movies do so across space and time, and hint at the possibility of truly understanding one another.”

Lee Marshall (she/her)

Lee Marshall produces stories that celebrate outsiders, interlopers, and misfits on the screen. Her first feature Bleed With Me (2021) was called “a tautly constructed work of psychological horror” by The Guardian, and her most recent short Face (2022) was selected by SODEC for Clermont-Ferrand. She is developing a horrific sci-fi film with support from Telefilm while also writing a dark comedy series for the IPF-CMF Development Packaging Program. Lee just wrapped filming a short thriller in Nova Scotia with frequent collaborator Amelia Moses.

“I’m inspired by ordinary people. Everyone has a great story that’s just waiting to be made into a movie. Sometimes the most interesting stories are quiet at first; they might be just a whisper until someone takes the time to really listen. I’m also inspired by the possibility of change.”

Malachi Jamaal Ellis (he/him)

Malachi Ellis is a Toronto-based Black film and television producer who strives to tell stories revolutionizing the status quo for BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ audiences. He was recently selected for the Reelworld Screen Institute’s Producer Program and was named one of Playback Magazine’s 10 to Watch. His most recent producing credits include I Live Here (Aspen Shortsfest, CBC Gem), Diaspora (TIFF, Palm Springs International ShortFest), and Fish Boy (BFI Flare, Frameline). Malachi is an alumnus of the Toronto Metropolitan University’s RTA Media Production and the OYA Emerging Filmmakers programs.

“In all my work, the throughline has always been identity – individuals discovering themselves through ordinary and extraordinary circumstances. I grew up watching, reading, and listening to anything I could find where the creative voices reflected a part of me. I found myself in the stories in film and television, and I am determined to help others do the same.”

Nic Altobelli (she/they)

Nic Altobelli is a Canadian Producer passionate about telling stories that reflect diverse experiences. They were selected by the GEMS Genre Lab to attend the Frontières Market in July through Fantasia Film Festival and Festival de Cannes. Nic’s films have screened at international film festivals, including Hollyshorts, Raindance (UK), Sun Valley Film Festival, Blood in the Snow, Vancouver Asian Film Festival, Nightmares Film Festival and Vancouver International Women in Film Festival. Their production company has a current slate of multiple music videos, short films, feature films and TV series. Nic will be producing two projects supported by Canada Council for the Arts going to camera this year, along with the MPPIA Award-winning short My Roommate Ahriman. They are a proud member of the CMPA, a Leo Awards Nominee, completed the WIFTV Producer Program in 2022 and sits on the jury for Sundar Prize Film Festival.

“Every time I think about what makes a movie magic, it’s the group of extraordinarily talented artists and specialists showing up in the same space and time to create together. And it’s the fact that this gathering happens repeatedly, in a beautiful and brilliantly singular way until someone says the ‘W’ word.”


NJFP 2023 Writers Lab
(L-R) Minh-Anh Vo Dinh, Kimberly Manky, Margarita Valderrama, Mitchell LeBlanc

Kimberly Manky (she/her)

Kimberly Manky is a Vancouver-based screenwriter who has written for Disney, ABCmouse and Nickelodeon. Her TV projects and features have placed in numerous screenwriting competitions, including the Academy’s Nicholl Fellowship. She studied Screenwriting at Oxford, Contextual Theology at St. Mellitus College, and received a Master’s Degree (Honors) in Creative Writing from the University of London. Kimberly aims to break stigmas around mental health and disability, bringing awareness and understanding to these common human experiences. She’s a Fellow of the Netflix Children’s Content Lab, an alumna of RespectAbility’s Entertainment Lab, and a 2023 Mentee for the 1in4 Coalition Writers Program.

“There is still stigma and self-stigma (internalized shame) around mental health and disability, even though 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental illness, and 1 in 5 Canadians have at least one disability. I want to bring awareness and understanding to these very common human experiences, start conversations, and change people’s perspectives.”

Margarita Valderrama (she/her)

Margarita is a Colombian-Canadian, Dora Award-nominated actor, writer and filmmaker based in Toronto. She is also a Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prize protégé and currently part of the Reelworld Emerging 20 Program. Her first short film script, Date Night, won the ACTRA Toronto Shorts Competition and has since received official selection from various film festivals across North America. She completed Factory Theatre’s Playwriting Unit (The Foundry), two Playwriting Residencies through Aluna Theatre, and was part of the Stratford Festival’s Playwrights Retreat. Margarita is currently developing her first feature Eyes Open | Ojos Abiertos.

“I’m inspired by my family and their stories full of resiliency and love, and by existing and relating to the world in two languages – English and Spanish. I’m striving to represent my culture and community through a lens that focuses on the nuances of the immigrant experience with lots of humour and heart.”

Minh-Anh Vo Dinh (he/him)

Minh-Anh Vo Dinh is a queer Vietnamese screenwriter who focuses on anything that spooks and unsettles the audience. He believes in highlighting the voices of Asian women and 2SLGBTQ+ individuals within horror and how their unique perspectives can elevate the genre with nuances and sensitivity. His scripts explore trauma, dysfunctional relationships and belonging while using horror to accentuate the story. His Viet folk horror feature The Othered is currently in development with East Films.

“The more I write, the more I realize my works primarily feature broken people who find comfort in each other, as well as people who are lost and simply looking for belonging and acceptance. And like every good horror writer, I like to throw these people into the most terrifying scenarios possible. At the core of it all, I want emotional rawness in my works no matter how uncomfortable it may be, which is why horror is the perfect vehicle for me to execute the themes and stories I want to tell.”

Mitchell LeBlanc (he/him)

Mitchell LeBlanc is a writer/director based in Toronto. He is an alumnus of the 2022 Warner Brothers Discovery x Canadian Academy Writers Program. His award-winning short film directorial debut, Melody, premiered at the 2020 Videodrunk Film Festival as part of their Canadian Horror showcase. He is currently in post-production on his upcoming film Noise, and has feature projects in development at Amazon Studios and WBD. When not on set, Mitchell teaches at George Brown College’s Faculty of Media & Performing Arts.

“I am inspired by stories that reveal the horrors lurking beneath the surface of everyday life. Stories that set characters against impossible odds and push them to become better (and/or worse) people in order to survive. These stories mythologize the dread of living and create space for existential reflection on the terrors imposed on us by the world, by each other, and by ourselves.”


A collage of four headshots of filmmakers.
(L-R) Arielle Skolnik, Maria Bykina, Ted Husband, Mariana Urrutia

Arielle Skolnik (she/her)

Arielle Skolnik is a Toronto-based editor with an interest in stories that present a unique perspective to the world. After graduating from the Post Production program at Humber College, she joined the DGC and worked as an assistant editor on TV series like Baroness Von Sketch Show, Halo and Chapelwaite. Arielle’s notable editing credits include It’s Gonna Be Great, a digital comedy series from musician Tim Baker and directed by Jordan Canning, as well as CBC Gem’s True Dating Stories, for which she received a CCE Award nomination.

“I find creative inspiration in little moments, the absurdities of everyday life and my life experiences. Sometimes an idea is sparked from a passing thought or feeling and I go with it to see what it becomes. In my editing work, I love looking for subtle expressions and mannerisms that help shape the character.”

Maria Bykina (she/her)

With a passion for storytelling, Maria Bykina has established herself as a film editor that takes pride in bringing nuanced stories to life. Her diverse array of work spans narrative film, documentaries and commercials and has been recognized by the Elvino Sauro Award and the Canada Shorts of Excellence Award. Maria is drawn to stories that depict overall themes of human connection and her editing style is shaped by the desire to capture subtle truths about life. She takes pride in her ability to adapt and explore non-linear storytelling techniques.

“As an immigrant, I am influenced by my own experiences of reflection, loneliness and identity. Studies on family and human connection are themes I always find myself gravitating towards. Ultimately, I am drawn to stories that reveal new conclusions about ourselves and ones that are able to heal the soul.”

Mariana Urrutia (she/her)

Mariana Urrutia is a creative and innovative film editor based in Toronto. She is dedicated to her craft, and has a natural aptitude for visual storytelling. With experience in narrative short films, documentaries and comedic webseries, Mariana strives to craft stories in a way that leaves a lasting impact on audiences. She has distinguished herself in her field not only as a talented storyteller, but also as a willing and insightful collaborator. Mariana holds a BFA in Film from York University and is an associate member of the Canadian Cinema Editors Association.

“I think a great story is one that portrays diverse human experiences in a way that resonates with audiences long after leaving the theater. Especially ones that reach a part of you that you may not have seen portrayed on screen before. My favourite films are ones that I immediately want to share with friends and family, knowing that they hold a small window into parts of my soul.”

Ted Husband (he/him)

Ted Husband is a CSA-nominated editor based in Toronto. His work ranges from music videos for artists like Canadian indie rock legend Brendan Canning, to commercials for clients such as Doritos, Starbucks, Mercedes-Benz and Visa. His latest feature documentary, The Accountant of Auschwitz, premiered at the 2018 Hot Docs Film Festival and went on to play 40+ film festivals worldwide, received four CSA awards, was released in theatres across 15 Canadian cities, and was shown on major platforms like Netflix and Apple TV. Ted is driven to push the limits of his craft, constantly striving to create deeply engrossing cinematic experiences.

“As a film editor, I find creative inspiration from just about anywhere. Whether it’s the director’s vision or the footage itself, music, other movies, travelling, or even people watching at Blue Jays games. Inspiration can come from unexpected places. I believe that creativity has no limits and can emerge from anything. That’s why it’s important to have an open mind and explore new experiences to keep the inspiration flowing.”

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