The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is a seminal event of the film industry’s calendar, and is in full swing this year from Sept. 7-17. Celebrities, filmmakers, producers, critics, and cinephiles travel to Toronto from around the world to screen and celebrate new films from rising names and established stars.
This year, as part of its mission of “changing the way people see the world through film,” TIFF is screening a number of groundbreaking, buzz-worthy films — and a few were created by and with NYFA alumni.
Produced by global superstar Prayanka Chopras and her mother Dr. Madhu Chopra through their production company Purple Pebble Pictures, “Pahuna: the Little Visitors” has garnered a lot of attention at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in its Special Event category screening. NYFA filmmaking alumna Pragya Rathor partnered with the film’s first-time director, Paakhi Tyrewala of Bonfire Tales production company, to work on the shoot.
Described as a “contemporary Indian version of Hansel and Gretel,” the film grants viewers a rare glimpse of Northeast India as it weaves a fable-like story of three children who are forced to flee their Nepalese village and become separated from their parents in the forest, adapting to survive together. Through this rarely seen portrayal of a typically voiceless region of India, the film brings larger issues such as children’s rights, racism and refugee crises to the global stage.
NYFA alumna Renae Maihi’s work in feature film “Waru” has made an paradigm-shifting international debut, screening at TIFF in its Discovery section as well as opening for 2017 imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival in October, which according to Screenz is the world’s largest platform for indigenous media.
According to Stuff, the innovative feature contains eight separate narratives written and directed by nine different Maori women. New Zealand Film Commission told the magazine, “With ‘Waru,’ there has not been a narrative feature film helmed by a Māori woman since Merata Mita’s ‘Mauri’ in 1988. Having a film made by nine wahine Māori screening in Toronto feels like a positive step toward addressing this, with the opportunities the festival can provide for these filmmakers.”
TIFF programmer Jane Schoettle praised the “Waru,” saying it’s “like nothing anybody has seen before.”
Another exciting NYFA-TIFF connection comes via The Hollywood Reporter’s announcement that NYFA alumnus Allan Ungar will be at TIFF this year, working with 13 Films to shop new feature project “Decoy” to buyers.
Heavy hitters including actors Andy Garcia, Frank Grillo and Tyler Posey and producers Andrew Gunn, Michael Bien, Henry Less, Sissy Federer, Tom North, Tannaz Anisi and Greg Schenz are already attached to the action projec. Director Allan Ungar wrote “Gridlocked,” which was acquired by Netflix.