Introducing the 2022 Norman Jewison Film Program Residents
Posted: Jun 15, 2022
Posted: Jun 15, 2022
The Norman Jewison Film Program is set to launch once again! We are excited to welcome 19 talented storytellers to this year’s program – five directors, five producers, five writers and four editors – each one bringing with them unique points of view, stories, experiences and skills.
The Film Program is renowned for offering an immersive experience that nurtures a creator’s artistic vision and it has proven to be a vital incubator for the next generation of creators and industry leaders. An intensive and collaborative professional experience, the program is a key destination for creative professionals and has launched the careers of well over 500 creators, helping to build capacity in our domestic screen entertainment industry.
This year’s program gets underway in Toronto on July 5, 2022 – the same day the summer cohort of the Bell Media Prime Time TV Program begins. During the 5 ½ month program these creators will develop their narrative storytelling skills, expand their professional and creative networks, receive one-on-one mentorship from fellow storytellers and industry professionals, collaborate on a number of exercises and productions, and generate original IP for their portfolio and the feature and TV marketplace. It’s going to be a busy few months!
Now it’s time to meet this year’s residents of the Norman Jewison Film Program:
(L-R, top to bottom): Erica Orofino, Andrew Hamilton, Bea Santos, Mehrtash Mohit, Lu Asfaha.
Lu Asfaha got her start in post-production, editing on the CSA-winning series Being Black in Toronto and the Critics Choice-nominated documentary series Shine True. Her short credits include Freedom Summer, Paladin and the satirical horror short, Fresh Meat, which was a ScreenCraft finalist and premiered at Inside Out 2021. Lu was a Doc Accelerator Fellow at Hot Docs 2019 and won the RBC Emerging Director Award at Regent Park Film Festival. Most recently, Lu was BlueCat Screenplay Competition’s Feature Winner and won the Fellini Award for Best International Script.
“I think the true power of stories is their ability to teach us things about ourselves, and the filmmakers that strive to do that elevate their movies from good to great. Who doesn’t love a thoughtful dive into a character, in any genre, that leaves us with a better understanding of the human condition, and therefore ourselves?”
Andrew Hamilton is a Jamaican-Canadian filmmaker who was born and raised in Toronto. A cinephile fascinated by genre films and the impact of dramatic storytelling, Andrew actively looks to shape introspective and empathetic stories filled with the type of wonder you can only find at the movies. He has directed and produced commercials and music videos for 10+ years, and most recently, his short film Duppy was featured in film festivals across North America. Andrew is currently in development of his first feature One of the Good Ones.
“My [lived] experiences are constantly shaping my ideas on art and the stories I want to tell. That emotional weight you feel as you go through a day is the most powerful indicator of what really matters to you, and at a certain point, I realized it was a creative compass.”
Mehrtash Mohit is an Iranian-Canadian writer and director. He explores themes about unpacking societal values and exposing dilemmas. His most recent short film, Retributive Minds, won Best Foreign Language Film at NYCSHORTS, and he is currently in development on another short, Finding Shelter, which received funding from Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council and was nominated for best short screenplay at the Atlanta Film Festival and New York International Screenplay Awards. Mehrtash is also in development on his first feature film, which was selected for research funding from Canada Council of the Arts.
“Each person carries many stories during their lifetime and understanding what makes them who they are, their journey and the challenges they’ve faced in either contrast or alignment to my own is my biggest inspiration [as a creator].”
Erica Orofino is an award-winning filmmaker based in Toronto. She is passionate about stories by underrepresented voices that tackle taboo subject matter. Her work is fueled by the desire to connect people, and focuses on the female perspective, sexuality, complex familial relationships and mental illness. Most recently, Erica’s latest dramatic short, She Keeps Me, won Best Canadian Short at the 2022 Pendance Film Festival.
“I think what makes a great film is if you come away from watching it feeling something really strongly or viscerally. Some of my favourite films are disgusting, or make me feel really uncomfortable. I love that. I think the best movies have a strong point of view, feel really intentional, and make you think about things differently.”
Bea is a Canadian filmmaker and actor with more than a decade of experience. Her films fuse magical realism and lo fi sci-fi with themes of death, loss, escape and ultimately, hope. She is currently developing her first feature, an English/Spanish language film loosely based on a crime mystery involving her late mother. She holds a degree in literature and art history from McGill University.
“I find creative inspiration in my own lived experiences, art history and ancient myths, family legends, from people-watching, and from observing others over time. Something clicks for me when I can ground something totally fantastical in a broader, real-world collective experience.”
(L-R, top to bottom): Amy Trefry, Bonnie Do, Fonna Seidu, Farhad Pakdel and Claire Desmarais.
Claire Desmarais is an emerging writer and producer currently based in Toronto. She spent a decade producing live entertainment before pivoting her career to the screen. Claire has trained in comedy writing with The Second City, as an Assistant Director with the Director’s Guild of Canada, and learned best practices on the sets of multiple Emmy-nominated productions, including Workin’ Moms (CBC/Netflix), What We Do in the Shadows (FX), and The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu). As a storyteller, Claire is driven to entertain audiences with content that challenges stereotypes and reflects the lived experiences of communities who are traditionally underrepresented in dominant media. Most recently, she produced her first short film, Capsule (dir. Dani Kind), and has several projects in development.
“I’m inspired by storytellers who are bold enough to write characters who are both flawed and lovable, explore questions without clear answers, and present new perspectives. I find work like this inspiring for the respect and freedom it lends to the audience to perhaps challenge their own beliefs, figure out how it made them feel, and why.”
Bonnie Do is a producer with more than a decade of experience in film and television business affairs. She began her career at Telefilm Canada before joining Toronto-based production company Serendipity Point Films, where she worked on seven productions, most recently as an associate producer on Crimes of the Future (dir. David Cronenberg).
“Great movies or stories for me call up memories and ideas and encourage reflection. I really love leaving a movie or show feeling really excited to talk with anybody about it!”
Farhad Pakdel is a filmmaker whose work explores identity (de)construction, liminality, absence, place, and memory. Farhad has produced, directed and written several films that have screened at film festivals worldwide. He is the founder of Mise En Abyme, a production company with a mission to produce films by diverse creators with unique visions that push the boundaries. Farhad holds an MFA in Film from York University and an MA in Cinema from the University of Art in Tehran.
“I find inspiration in everyday life, in the extraordinary world of connections, chance encounters, revelations, absences and presences, and desires – a world in which everyone pursues a purpose. I always reflect on how our decisions make different paths and how a different choice would have created a different (hi)story.”
Fonna Seidu burst into the film industry in 2018 as a producer on the multiple award-winning short, Promise Me (dir. Alison Duke). She has since worked on 40+ projects, including the Canadian Screen Award-winning doc Being Black in Toronto, and Virgins!, a webseries funded by IPF, Bell and CBC. She also produced Fresh Meat, supported by CBC and BIPOC TV & Film, and is collaborating on a queer comedy heist feature Let’s Do This, which participated in Breaking Through the Lens. Through her production company, Snail Mail Media, Fonna has additionally produced content for clients like Cosette, Breakthroughs Film and Television, and Western University.
“Many creatives have AMAZING concepts but sometimes get deeply stuck in the rumination, reflection, and examination of their ideas. Fear (of failure, rejection, imperfection, etc.) will always come with creativity, but it is the artist’s decision about what they are going to do about it.”
Amy Trefry is an emerging actor, producer and writer, currently living and working on the traditional and unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, now known as Vancouver. Amy is the owner of Interwoven Films, a self-proclaimed small but ambitious production company that is dedicated to engaging in inclusive storytelling that challenges audiences and creators alike to see themselves in the diverse voices around us. Throughout their work as an artist, Amy views film as an opportunity to create change through conversation, by exploring the boundaries of convention, tradition, and norms.
“Having come from a personal and professional background in environmental conservation and biology, the natural world is something I continue to draw immense inspiration from in all of my work. Many of my projects explore the intersection of people who experience othering or are marginalized and our connection to nature and the environment.”
(L-R, top to bottom): Brishkay Ahmed, Brett Caron, Justin Neal, Christine Rodriguez and Mazin Elsadig.
Brishkay Ahmed has worked as a screenwriter, playwright and director in Afghanistan and Canada for more than a decade. She is the writer of the Afghan legal drama series Between You and Me. In Canada, her work includes In the Rumbling Belly of Motherland (Outstanding Feature Award, Reelworld 2022), the Canadian Screen Award nominated short Fatima In Kabul, and the play Burqa Boutique (Killjoy Theater). Brishkay studied film at New York University and the Iranian Young Cinema Society.
“I find creative inspiration in the messy and chaotic moments occurring around me.”
Since 2009, Brett has worked in a wide range of writing roles: comedy articles, sci-fi eBooks, tabletop game design – all leading him inexorably to screenwriting. His first feature film, Escalation, is set for a 2022 release. When not securely manacled to his keyboard, Brett is a rabid supporter of Toronto rep cinemas like the Revue and the Fox.
“The first screenplay I ever completed was a spec, Ghostbusters 3, as a gift for my dad. He introduced me to so much excellent sci-fi and horror when I was a kid, but Ghostbusters quotes have always been my family’s love language. It’s the perfect alchemy of sci-fi, horror and comedy. For me, Ghostbusters and my dad are inseparably connected.”
Mazin Elsadig has been writing and acting professionally for more than a decade. He’s been featured on productions such as CBC’s Four in the Morning and Degrassi: The Next Generation. He co-founded BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) Productions, where he wrote and produced several projects, including the comedy series We Are Disorderly. He wrote Drake’s hosting material for the JUNO Awards in 2011, and the ESPY’S in 2014; and produced three of his music videos (“Marvins Room,” “Headlines” and “The Motto”). Most recently, Mazin worked as a story editor on Pretty Hard Cases (CBC).
“My biggest inspiration [as a creator] is to reach more people like myself, who don’t feel seen, or rarely get to see themselves on screen.”
Justin Neal is a playwright and screenwriter based in his family’s traditional Sḵwx̱wú7mesh territory, now known as Vancouver. He is the founder of Holy Crow Arts theatre company in Vancouver, where he produced his playSo Damn Proud. Justin’s feature film The Skins Game is in development with Curiosity Pictures and Really Real Films, and both his original series, Boundary Bay, and his feature, The Traveller, have received development funding through the Indigenous Screen Office and Creative BC. Justin holds a joint MFA in Creative Writing and Theatre from the University of British Columbia.
“In the 1990s, I clung onto Thunderheart and Smoke Signals, anxious for more stories like these to breakthrough and get the accolades and eyeballs. But it’s been a trickle. Until now. The devastating and stunning realities of the Indigenous experience across Turtle Island are starting to be told at a level of quality and breadth our multifarious stories deserve. I am hopeful this promising moment leads to industry-wide opportunity and sustainability for our people.”
Christine is an award-winning playwright based in Montreal, and founder and producer at Productions La Tigresse. Her debut short film, Fuego, played a festivals around the world, including the 2021 American Black Film Festival and Cannes (Marché du Film). In 2021, Christine participated in the Warner Bros. Discovery Access x Canadian Academy Writers Program, working on the feature screenplay of Fuego. Most recently, she received a grant from the Rogers – BSO Development Fund to write the pilot for her TV series Nina’s 80s. Christine is inspired by her multicultural environment and her Afro-Trinidadian heritage. Christine holds a Certificate of Professional Screenwriting from UCLA.
“I’m always interested in Afrocentric themes that include multiracial characters, like myself, living through a variety of experiences, from drama to horror to sci-fi, family dynamics and cultural identity often being key points of exploration.”
(L-R, top to bottom): Rémy Huberdeau, Anna Catley, Josh Aries and Carroll Chiramel.
An award-winning director and editor, Josh strives to tell stories that are bombastic and fun, while relaying messages of hope and honesty with his signature stylized direction and charm. His breakthrough film, Mr. James is Dead,which he co-directed with Daniel Irving,has played at festivals worldwide, and won the 2021 Leo Award for Best Editing for a Short Program. His action/comedy short, Reverse, netted him the Best Director Award at the Vancouver Asian Film Festival’s 16th Mighty Asian Movie Making Marathon and played the Oscar qualifying Los Angeles Pacific Asian Film Festival in May 2022.
His co-editorial/directorial work with Daniel Irving on TikTok @DanielAndJosh has amassed more than 25 million views and was recognized by the Cannes Film Festival to promote their partnership with the platform.
“Empathy, both on and off screen [is what makes a movie or story great]. Being able to place the audience deep in the story and feel every feeling is so essential in great storytelling.”
Anna Catley is a Toronto-based editor originally from Vancouver. She cut her teeth working as an assistant editor on features such as Patricia Rozema’s Mouthpiece and on music videos, including Drake’s “In My Feelings.” In addition to cutting music videos for artists like The Tragically Hip and Mother Mother, Anna also has extensive experience editing narrative pieces and unscripted content. Her editing credits include the feature Things I Do for Money (dir. Warren P. Sonoda), the award-winning webseries Avocado Toast, and the short film Little Bird (TIFF ’21), for which she received her Canadian Cinema Editors Awards nomination. Anna holds a degree in film studies from Queen’s University.
“A compelling movie is greater than the sum of its parts – it’s acting and editing and sound design, but it’s ultimately about the impression you’re left with when the credits roll. A great movie lingers in your brain for hours, days, years, always provoking new thoughts and feelings. For me, it’s Peter Weir’s Witness. The barn-raising scene? Goosebumps.”
Carroll Chiramel is an Indo-Canadian Filmmaker. He started as an assistant film editor in the Indian film and TV industry before migrating to Toronto. His select credits include award-winning films like Forbidden Tikka Masala, Meet the Parents and Under the Same Sun, which have screened at various film festivals worldwide. Carroll’s experience working with filmmakers across the globe on diverse projects and in multiple languages has helped him evolve as an editor and have shaped his approach. Carroll is an alumnus of Sheridan College.
“Malayalam films from India were my first love of cinema and they enlightened me from the time I started understanding them [and they still do] even today. Malayalam, being my native language, gave me a better insight into storytelling on various subjects made by some of the best filmmakers of Malayalam cinema.”
Rémy Huberdeau is a trans editor and filmmaker with an interest in relationship-based filmmaking for meaningful and transformative storytelling. He has edited narrative, documentary and youth magazine formats, including Paris Paris and 180 for UNIS TV, TVA and TFO, and award-winning arthouse and multichannel shorts, like Ancestors Can You Read Us? and Riverside Queerness. Rémy wrote and directed Transgender Parents for CBC Doc Channel and produced Freedom Summer for CBC Digital. Rémy is an alumnus of the documentary cinema program at Montreal’s l’Institut national de l’image et du son (L’inis) and Hot Docs’ Breakthrough Lab.
“We choose the images we invest in. For me, storywork is to transform both positive and negative attention into a stream of consciousness that reveals deep and magical dignity for the human experience.”
Please join us in welcoming these storytellers to the CFC! We’re so excited they are joining the CFC family.
Thank you to Telefilm Canada and the Paul Bronfman Family Foundation, our generous supporters of The Norman Jewison Film Program who make this program possible.
Special thank you to this year’s selection committee members: Damon D’Oliveira, Lori Lozinski, Roslyn Kalloo, David Ostry, Margaret Lester, Joanne Sarazen, Thyrone Tommy, Jeffrey St. Jules and Renuka Jeyapalan; and to our pre-screeners and readers: Andreas Vatiliotou, A.W. Hopkins, Libby Osler, Muna Deria, Andrew Currie, Gillian McKercher, John Ainslie, Martin Edralin, Rechna Varma and Xi Feng.
Follow along on our socials and website throughout the program for more news and updates, and learn more about the Norman Jewison Film Program here.
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