CFC Alumni Take the Spotlight at TIFF 2019

CFC Alumni Take the Spotlight at TIFF 2019

Fifty-eight Alumni Working on 23 Projects Screening at Festival

Toronto, August 20, 2019 – The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) is extremely proud to share that 58 of its alumni will be attending the 44th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) with 23 projects, which includes those participating in initiatives such as the Micki Moore Residency, TIFF Filmmaker Lab, TIFF Talent Accelerator and Telefilm Canada Pitch This! Competition.

CFC alumni projects span a variety of TIFF programs, from Short Cuts to Galas; Contemporary World Cinema to Midnight Madness; Special Presentations to Discovery and TIFF Docs. The breadth of their work testifies to their remarkable creativity, and to the CFC as a place that primes its talented residents to thrive in an evolving global industry.

This year, we are especially proud that four films at the festival were developed, and in two cases, produced, at the CFC, with all four emerging from these alumni’s time as residents in the Cineplex Film Program.

Discover which people and alumni projects will be at this year’s festival!


In the Contemporary World Cinema program, the feature, Tammy’s Always Dying, was writer alumna Joanne Sarazen’s original feature concept when she was a resident in the Cineplex Film Program. Two CFC alumnae, director Amy Jo Johnson and producer Jessica Adams, boarded the project post-CFC, bringing on editor alumnus Bryan Atkinson and composer alumnus Casey MQ for this dark comedy about addiction, recovery and the female experience.

Sarazen was also selected as this year’s Micki Moore Resident, a program TIFF established in 2018 for outstanding Canadian female feature film screenwriters. Read our profile of Sarazen, written while Tammy’s Always Dying was wrapping production.

Additional alumni projects in the Contemporary World Cinema program include:

  • Kathleen Hepburn co-wrote and co-directed The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, a powerful extended conversation between two Indigenous women that was also produced by Lori Lozinski.
  • Two lost souls grapple with the hard truths of addiction in Castle in the Ground, from producer William Woods and Jennifer Mesich (associate producer) and editor Jorge Weisz.
  • Michael Pierro edited The Last Porno Show, in which a man inherits his estranged father’s prized possession – a derelict porno theatre.
  • White Lie, about a young woman who becomes a campus celebrity after fabricating her own cancer diagnosis, features actor-alumni Zahra Bentham and Thomas Olajide.


Sanja Zivkovic, whose CFC-produced short film CLEO screened at TIFF 2016, wrote and directed Easy Land, screening in this year’s Discovery program. It had its start when she was a director resident at the CFC. Since then, current producer resident Julie Strifler signed on, along with additional alumni – executive producer Matt Code, editor Chris Mutton and composer Casey MQ. The film follows follows a mother and daughter, Serbian refugees, as they struggle to navigate the many obstacles facing newcomers to Canada.

The Discovery program also showcases other CFC alumni:

  • Raf explores how a deadbeat woman’s life changes through her relationship to a new BFF, and stars Grace Glowicki with music by composer Casey MQ
  • The Rest of Us looks at what drama and friendship unfolds when a single-mother welcomes her ex-partner’s wife and daughter into her life, and was directed by Aisling Chin-Yee, with a substantial additional alumni presence: story editor Mark Van de Ven, production manager/actor Brendan Brady, executive producer Damon D’Oliveira, and producers Emma Fleury and William Woods.
  • Sweetness in the Belly, a tale of an altruistic and devout young woman with a nomadic past, was produced by Jennifer Kawaja, with production supervisor Andrew Nicholas McCann Smith and composer Todor Kobakov.


  • American Woman offers a fictionalized reimagining of the Patty Hearst affair, and is directed by Semi Chellas, with music by the CFC’s Slaight Music Residency’s Composer Chair, Lesley Barber, along with Aimee Bessada and Spencer Creaghan as assistants.
  • The buzzy opening night documentary, Once We Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band, counts Peter Raymont as one of its executive producers.


  • Everybody will want to stay up late for the much-buzzed-about Blood Quantum, equal parts horror and pointed cultural critique in which zombies devour the world while an isolated Mi’gmaq community is immune to the plague. Written and directed by Jeff Barnaby, the film stars Devery Jacobs and was produced by John Christou.


We’re thrilled that two CFC productions are screening in this year’s festival:

  • FLOOD, written and directed by Directors’ Lab alumnum Joseph Amenta, was produced by Daniel Sedore and edited by Orlee Buium, with Stephen Krecklo composing. The film features a queer teenage boy taking his younger sister on a tenth-birthday adventure involving face paint and glitter, until their celebration is interrupted and the cost of their freedom is exposed.
  • MEASURE, written and directed by Directors’ Lab alumna Karen Chapman, was produced by Elizabeth Melanson and edited by Chris Melanchan, with Jason Couse composing. The film follows nine year-old Shane, who seems to be wandering the streets of Toronto but is on a secret mission, one he must complete before his mother discovers he was suspended from school.

The celebrated Short Cuts program is always a great place to see a broader array of CFC alumni work, with rising stars in this year’s festival to include:

  • God’s Nightmares – director Daniel Cockburn blends found film hallucinations with the metaphysical musings rattling through his head.
  • Highway to HeavenShirley Vercruysse produced this evocative documentary and meditation on Canadian multiculturalism, which looks at 25 houses of worship that line a single road in Richmond, BC.
  • I Am in the World as Free and Slender as a Deer on a Plain – This exploration of a young woman’s sexual autonomy features among its cast, Andy McQueen.
  • It’s NothingAnna Maguire directed this study of what happens when a recent graduate is urged by an impossibly perfect woman to start digging a hole in a nearby park, and stars Emily Piggford, as well as the talents of producer Jessica Adams, with music by Ben Fox, and editing by Maureen Grant.
  • Life SupportRenuka Jeyapalan directed this funny, poignant tale of the different people who show up at a dog park, which was produced by Tyler Levine and edited by Tiffany Beaudin.
  • VolcanoAlona Metzer produced this two-hander about friends revealing – and concealing – key information over cocktails, all set to music by Antonio Naranjo.


  • The Niagara Falls-set psychological thriller, Clifton Hill, features actor Andy McQueen and line producer Matt Code.
  • Atom Egoyan’s latest, Guest of Honour, delves into a complicated father-daughter relationship and was co-produced by Stephen Traynor.


This is Not a Movie profiles the groundbreaking and often game-changing reporting of legendary foreign correspondent-author Robert Fisk, in the latest from acclaimed documentarian, director Yung Chang and producer Anita Lee.

CFC alumni are also featured prominently in several other initiatives running as part of the festival, including:

In the Telefilm Canada Pitch This! competition, six filmmaking teams are selected to pitch their feature-film idea to an industry audience and jury. This year, two teams feature CFC alumnae:

  • Lauren Grant, for What Night Taught Her, a documentary about Canada’s first sex workers’ rights organization and the people who run it.
  • Natalie Urquhart, for Paying For It, an unconventional romantic comedy about an introverted cartoonist who begins sleeping with prostitutes.

The TIFF Filmmaker Lab is a talent development programme that takes place during the festival, in which a total of 20 Canadian and international directors join a global community of filmmaking over a five-day period with internationally acclaimed filmmakers and guests. Three CFC alumni were selected among the Canadian directors this year: Joseph Amenta (FLOOD), Karen Chapman (MEASURE) and Aisling Chin-Yee (The Rest of Us).

In the new TIFF Talent Accelerator, a customized, yearlong development experience for promising Canadian female creators, two CFC alumna-directors were selected – Karen Chapman for directing and Lisa Jackson for writing.

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About CFC
The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) is a charitable cultural organization that supports, develops and accelerates the content, careers and companies of Canadian creative and entrepreneurial talent in the screen-based and digital industries. Its uniquely designed programs and initiatives span film, television, screen acting, screen composing and songwriting, and innovative work in the digital media and entertainment technology industries, all of which continue to push boundaries and generate world-class content, products and companies for the global marketplace.


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