Interview with Festival Director Gabor Pertic (Breakthroughs Film Festival)

Now in its 5th amazing year, the Breakthroughs Film Festival is the only festival in Canada devoted exclusively to short films by New Generation women filmmakers. We show films in any and every genre made by talented young artists from all over the world. 

Breakthroughs Film Festival also features a panel discussion with the participating directors, giving the audience a chance to learn more about what these amazing women can do!

Get to know Festival Director Gabor Pertic:

Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Gabor Pertic: In an industry where women still struggle to get their work seen and heard, Breakthroughs provides an opportunity for new generation female filmmakers to have their films programmed and brought to a big screen. The films and filmmakers we showcase are often times just entering the film industry, which is a crowded, intimidating space to begin with. It can be quite difficult to get your work noticed by a festival or play to an audience, so we’re providing a place where one of our main goals is to give voice to these emerging talents.

Matthew: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

Gabor: Audiences are going to be able to see a curated selection of creative, fresh visions from young female filmmakers. It’s an opportunity to see original content from names you may have not seen on a marquee just yet. It becomes a discovery moment for any audience member, an opportunity to see an incredibly talented group of women at a stage when their art is taking shape and rising.

Matthew: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Gabor: The basic guidelines for any submitted film to Breakthroughs is that it’s directed by a female between the ages of 18-30 and the film runtime sits under 20 minutes. There is an abundance of filmmakers that fit within these parameters who are looking for places to get their film seen. Be it fictional narratives, documentaries, or anything that falls in more of an experimental group, Breakthroughs aims to highlight local and international short films that offer up a mix of these film forms.

Matthew: Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

Gabor: Film programming is a multilayered process, one that has many factors to consider within any given festival. Like Breakthroughs, there are many festivals that work on highlighting more specific programming, be it with regard to content, region, style, and/or theme. Certain top-tier festivals can be ambitious goals for any filmmaker looking to premiere their film but in an incredibly large and competitive space, it may be hard to get noticed. At the end of the day, film festivals strive to showcase the best group of films in any given year that fit with the festival’s specific mandates and artistic direction. It’s just a matter of finding the right partnership between the film and the festival.

Matthew: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Gabor: We all are here because we have a passion for film and we believe that women are making some of the most interesting work out there. We see the daily struggles of female filmmakers not getting the attention or respect they deserve and we hope to be able to provide a change in that narrative, to put the next generation of talented women front and center.

Matthew: How has the festival changed since its inception?

Gabor: One of the biggest changes the festival has undergone was that it opened up to international submissions. Breakthroughs started out only showcasing local Canadian work but we now are actively able to showcase a global perspective and we continue to grow on this worldview, seeking films from every continent.

Matthew: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

Gabor: We are currently right in the middle of a cultural landscape where there are daily discussions being had of women within the film space. Breakthroughs wants to maintain this conversation by working hard to improve upon a consistently unbalanced system. In the next few years, we can only hope that things start to progressive positively and that our festival has contributed in some way to showcasing why it is essential to give a platform for female filmmakers. We aim to be both a voice for these women and a destination for all those who support them.

Matthew: What film have you seen the most times in your life?

Gabor: This would be a great moment to just write The Double Life of Veronique or Meshes of the Afternoon but if we’re talking pure statistical numbers, I should be honest and say there are a few others that outrank them in terms of views. I’ve certainly made my way through a number of formats of When Harry Met Sally… through VHS to DVD to Streaming. Nora Ephron’s script is magical and it’s been a comfort and touchstone at different parts of my life. But, if some biographer where ever to comb through my life in detail, they would uncover that when Space Jam came to video in 1997, there was a six-month window where I easily watched it over a dozen times… This answer went real fast from incredible achievements in the cinematic artform to Michael Jordan playing basketball with Bugs Bunny. Which, I suppose, is a different kind of art all around…

Matthew: In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Gabor: Not sure if I can narrow it down to one sentence, so I’ll just say that a great film is one worth watching.

Matthew: How is the film scene in your city?

Gabor: Toronto is an absolutely incredible city for film. Within any given week, you can go see a film at one of the many festivals the city has to offer, and on your way there, have to walk around a film shoot happening live on one of the streets downtown. People here are filmmakers and film lovers, and more often than not, the answer to the question “hey, do you want to go see a movie?” is “yes”.



Executive Director: Gabor Pertic
 attended the University of Toronto as a Specialist in Cinema Studies, graduating with an Honours B.A. After working as a film critic in Toronto, he transitioned into the world of film festival programming. For several years, he worked in the programming department of the Toronto International Film Festival, four of those years working as Programming Associate to TIFF Director & CEO Piers Handling. In addition to TIFF, Gabor has been continuously working and programming for North America’s largest documentary-exclusive film festival Hot Docs. Over the last decade, Gabor has had the privilege of curating a diverse, international selection of films for Toronto audiences.


Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s