The last day, the 17th of September marks the end of another year of the Toronto International Film Festival. Most noted difference is the fewer number of films programmed, as attendances over the past years have been dropping. Reasons for this state of affairs are many including higher unaffordable movie prices, the removal of the festival all movie pass and movie pirating.

Of the 79 festival films seen this year, I have selected my 10 best – the best of the best.

These are listed in alphabetical order:
BPM (France)

The public is the most important and the PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD went to THREE BILLBOARDS.

Other winners as selected by the Toronto Intrenational Film Festival, are, as listed below, in the different categories.

Till next year…….

The Toronto International Film Festival® announced its award winners at the closing ceremony at TIFF Bell Lightbox today, hosted by Piers Handling, CEO and Director of TIFF, and Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of TIFF. To watch the presentation, visit tiff.net/ceremony. The 42nd Festival wraps up this evening.
The short film awards below were selected by a jury comprised of Marit van den Elshout, Head of CineMart at the International Film Festival Rotterdam; award-winning filmmaker Johnny Ma (Old Stone); and Cannes 2017 Art Cinema Award winner Chloé Zhao (The Rider).


The IWC Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Short Film goes to Marc-Antoine Lemire’s Pre-Drink. The jury remarked the film “is a monumental yet intimate portrayal of a woman in transition. Lead by the towering performances of the film’s two actors, both of who are worthy of receiving their own awards. The jury were especially taken by the leading actress who gives one of the best performances we saw in the Short Cuts programmes. The 2017 Short Cuts jury honors Pre-Drink for Best Canadian short film.”

The award offers a $10,000 cash prize, made possible by IWC Schaffhausen.


The IWC Short Cuts Award for Best Short Film goes to Niki Lindroth von Bahr’s The Burden (Min Börda). The jury remarked, “Whimsical but tragic, imaginative and just plain weird, this is exactly what one can expect from a Scandinavian musical with fish in bath robes singing out their existentialist crisis. This is a film that stands out in this program and any film program it will ever be part of.” The award offers a $10,000 cash prize made possible by IWC Schaffhausen.
The jury gave honourable mentions to Matthew Rankin’s The Tesla World Light (Tesla: Lumière Mondiale) and Qiu Yang’s Xiao Cheng Er Yue (A Gentle Night).

The Canadian awards below were selected by a jury comprised of Mark Adams, Artistic Director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival; Canadian documentarian and Hillman Prize winner Min Sook Lee (Migrant Dreams); and artist and filmmaker Ella Cooper, who is also the founder of Black Women Film! Canada.


The City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film goes to Wayne Wapeemukwa’s Luk’ Luk’l. The jury remarked, “The award goes to a striking debut film that disrupts borders – of form and content and suggests new cinematic territories.This beautifully realized film offers a unique Canadian perspective, made with real compassion, insight and remarkable characters from Vancouver’s East Side.” This award carries a cash prize of $15,000, made possible by the City of Toronto.

The jury gave honourable mention to Sadaf Foroughi’s Ava.


The Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film goes to Robin Aubert’s Les Affamés. The jury remarked, “This year the Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film goes to a hybrid art-house film that proved to be something of a revelation. Wonderfully scripted and perfectly cast, this film managed the rare feat of featuring genuinely interesting and well-rounded characters; surprising dramatic and comedic moments with well thought-out multi-generational female roles (who were totally badass, I might add) while also dealing with poignant and contemporary issues, set against a striking rural backdrop and hundreds of ‘ravenous’ zombies.”

This award carries a cash prize of $30,000 and a custom award, sponsored by Canada Goose.

The jury gave honourable mention to Simon Lavoie’s The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches (La petite fille qui aimait trop les allumettes).


The Festival welcomed an international FIPRESCI jury for the 26th year. The jury members comprised of jury president Jonathan Rosenbaum (USA), Robert Daudelin (Canada), Martin Horyna (Czech Republic), Ivonete Pinto (Brazil), Marietta Steinhart (Austria), and Jim Slotek (Canada).

Prize of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) for the Discovery programme is awarded to Sadaf Foroughi for Ava.

Prize of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) for Special Presentations is awarded to Manuel Martín Cuenca for The Motive (El Autor).


As selected by a jury from the Network for the Promotion of Asian Pacific Cinema for the sixth consecutive year, the NETPAC Award for World or International Asian Film Premiere goes to Huang Hsin-Yao’s The Great Buddha+.

Jury members include jury chairperson Rashmi Doraiswamy (India), Jian Hao (China), and Savine Wong (Canada). The jury remarked, “The NETPAC Jury awards The Great Buddha+ for depicting the interface between the haves and have-nots, with black humor and style, innovating with noir in representing the social reality of Taiwan today.”


This is the third year for Platform, the Festival’s juried programme that champions directors’ cinema from around the world. The Festival welcomed an international jury comprised of award-winning filmmakers Chen Kaige, Małgorzata Szumowska, and Wim Wenders who unanimously awarded the Toronto Platform Prize, presented by Air France, to Warwick Thornton’s Sweet Country.

“This is a spiritual epic taking place in 1929 in Australia’s Northern Territory,” said the jury in a statement. “It is a great saga of human fate, and its themes of race and struggle for survival are handled in such a simple, rich, unpretentious and touching way, that it became for us a deeply emotional metaphor for our common fight for dignity.

Speaking about their deliberations, the jury added: “We saw 12 films from all over the world that took us into very different universes of the soul and to extremely different places on our planet. We were thankful to be able to see these films and we very much appreciated that actually exactly half of them were made by women. TIFF is leading the way, we feel.”

“As we only had one award to give, we had to be quite radical. We also limited ourselves to only one special mention, even if other films might have imposed themselves for best acting, writing or directing.”

Awarding a special mention to Clio Barnard’s Dark River, the jury said: “This film, deeply rooted in the Yorkshire countryside, convinced us, as its characters and actors, its photography, its story and its sense of place were all so much ONE, so utterly believable and controlled, that we were totally taken by it.”

The Toronto Platform Prize offers a custom award and a $25,000 cash prize, made possible by Air France.

New this year, the Festival presents a free screening of Toronto Platform Prize winner Sweet Country at TIFF Bell Lightbox at 8:30 pm on September 17. Tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 6:30pm.


This year marked the 40th year that Toronto audiences were able to cast a ballot for their favourite Festival film for the Grolsch People’s Choice Award. This year’s award goes to Martin McDonagh for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The award offers a $15,000 cash prize and custom award, sponsored by Grolsch. The second runner-up is Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name. The first runner-up is Craig Gillespie’s I, Tonya.

The Grolsch People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award goes to Joseph Kahn’s Bodied. The second runner-up is Craig Zahler’s Brawl in Cell Block 99. The first runner-up is James Franco’s The Disaster Artist.

The Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award goes to Agnès Varda and JR’s Faces Places. The second runner-up is Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken! The first runner-up is Long Time Running directed by Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas De Pencier.

Interview with Festival Director Michael York (MY Film Festival)

MY Film Festival is a brand new and exciting event which will take place in Toronto, Ontario. Our mission is to connect emerging artists with local filmmakers. We are anticipating a solid turn out with many press, bloggers, casting directors and agents to be in attendance this year. If you are a resident of ONTARIO, please get in contact with us for your free waiver code.



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

Michael York: MY Film Festival is a great way for filmmakers to get the opportunity to display their work in the biggest city in Canada – Toronto. I hope someday people can reflect on their screenings at the festival and see that it helped start/ shape or promote their career.

What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?

I would expect to exchange info with other great, passionate filmmakers and expand my network, as well as being inspired by great films.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

MY film festival are looking for well written and shot films, do to an over welcoming amount of submissions our first year we look for great sound quality as well as well thought out lighting. We don’t discriminate against run and gun productions but we intrigued by unorthodox shots and seemingly flawless cuts.

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

I feel from personal experience that films that are not in english have a tougher time standing out or holding the attention of viewers due to the subtitles that can take away from the beautiful cinematography or performances.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Our motivation and our goal is to be able to launch careers, we want to help people make those connections that a blind email or call may not be able to have.

How has your Film Freeway submission process been?

FilmFreeway is actually the only platform we use to promote the festival due to it’s very user friendly layout. They have done a great job of building up a strong database of filmmakers and if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have had a single submission.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

I have a lot of big ideas for MY film festival, I could see it going many different directions. I had a thought that it could someday grow into an art show in a large warehouse where we would have multiple film screenings at once with different rooms dressed in different themes based on the genre of the films being shown. The viewers/festival attendees would have the freedom to sit and watch something or quietly excuse themselves to a separate room with another film playing. There are also talks about bringing in a partner who would award the winner of the best short film with one hundred and fifty thousand dollars to turn their passion project into a feature film.

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

That is a good question, I think it would still have to be Scarface. I must have watched that a thousand times when I was a kid.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

What makes a great film for me is a well shot, captivating story with character arcs and a solid ending. (Not always a happy one)

How is the film scene in your city?

We are based out of Toronto, Ontario. The film scene here is booming! Both union and non union films are in constant rotation. We have massive tax incentives for American productions to save a buck and have access to countless great locations and industry professionals. This draws a lot of traffic, we actually have had to turn down several feature films due to lack of studio space.

my film festival2.jpg


Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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Interview with Festival Director Henry C.M. Wong (Toronto Youth Shorts Festival)

Toronto Youth Shorts is a spotlight showcase of cinematic short form content created by young emerging artists in the Greater Toronto and Southern Ontario Area. Each year, the festival acts as a professional forum for these young artists to engage their peers and the industry whilegrowing their professional profiles through learning and networking opportunities. An industry jury hands out the annual festival awards that come with production prizes. Behind the scenes, Toronto Youth Shorts is run by a volunteer force of savvy young professionals with a combination of training in the arts, event management, marketing, and media.

Go to Website 

Watch Video Testimonials of Festival

Interview with Henry C.M. Wong:

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

Henry C.M. Wong: Toronto Youth Shorts primarily serves the young filmmaking crowd of the Greater Toronto and Southern Ontario area. A lot of our participants are either students or young graduates getting their start in the industry and Toronto Youth Shorts act as a platform for them to see what the market is like. We invite established pros each year to give the filmmakers feedback on their work so the festival is also a great learning opportunity for them.

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

HW: As an emerging filmmaker showing your film at Toronto Youth Shorts, there will be many opportunities for you to engage your peers, the industry, and potentially win cash prizes and production services toward their next project. As an audience, you will see what the future of the industry looks like through the lens of a young person in the city. The content we show tends to be raw, provocative, whimsical, and emotionally engaging and I predict this year’s lineup to be the same.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?  

HW: For Toronto Youth Shorts, you have to be 30 years old or younger and your film must be 20 minutes or under. Any genre is accepted. Other than your typical drama, comedy, animation, and documentary pieces, we’ve screened video art, web series, news type pieces, experimental works, music videos, and PSAs. Content is becoming more and more of a blur that these distinctions don’t really matter anymore in a festival cinematic context.

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

HW: I don’t think that’s a fair statement to make. Just looking at Toronto as an example, there are hundreds of submissions-based events with different mandates and programming sensibilities. Even two festivals working within the same genre space will not be identical. Sure, there are some big events like TIFF and Hot Docs that are extremely competitive but overall, with the available platforms there are out there, a good film with audience appeal will likely find a home somewhere.

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

HW: I enjoy the engagement with these young artists. It’s great to see content that’s different from your standard wide-release made on almost nonexistent budgets with a local touch.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?  

HW: I was a student in my postgraduate program when I started this festival. My personal and professional growth since have certainly influenced the way the event is structured. I look at films from that demographic a lot differently than when I first started and my tastes have certainly evolved. But I have a wonderful dedicated team that ensures there is an array of viewpoints and perspectives involved when choosing the films.
Our program is bigger than before due to the accessibility of the artform. The work we show is more daring and bold than it has ever been. One thing I take pride in though is how we still manage to maintain that intimacy for young emerging filmmakers in such a setting. It can be extremely daunting to try and navigate a beast like Cannes or TIFF when you’re new to this world and I hope Toronto Youth Shorts can provide the adequate baby steps for these young filmmakers to climb towards the diving board, so to speak.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?  

HW: I hope Toronto Youth Shorts will become the official hub for young emerging filmmakers starting out in the industry. In a way, it already is as we have a lot of industry support and what we offer for young filmmakers is very unique even in the festival space. But it would be nice to see the same level of funding support come to us in the way that some of our peer festivals have.

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

HW: A great short film has a strong but concise story with compelling characters.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?  

HW: As an audience member, Toronto has a very vibrant film scene. Many big titles from all around the world play in Toronto on a regular movie screen. There are also many film festivals taking place in any given month, showcasing all kinds of content that could please any niche audience. Between blockbusters at the multiplex, the indie screening of a local artist at a community cinema, and critically acclaimed work playing at the local arthouse theatre, there is literally something for everyone.



Festival Director Bio: Henry founded Toronto Youth Shorts in 2009. His industry experience includes event management and marketing for the Banff World Media Festival, the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, the Canadian Film Festival, and the Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival. Henry was awarded a Legacy Award in 2016 and a Chinese Canadian Youth Achievement Award in 2011 for his contributions to the Toronto arts community.

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 www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.


Interview with Wendy Markson, Founding Artistic Director for Breakthroughs Film Festival

The Breakthroughs Film Festival is the only festival in Canada devoted exclusively to short films by New Generation (18-30) female artists. We showcase films from any and every genre made by talented young women from all over the world. The title ‘Breakthroughs’ refers to the struggles emerging women artists face in an industry where they make up only 6 percent of directors, and must, in many cases, work even harder than their male counterparts to make their voices heard.

The 2015 Breakthroughs Film Festival will be held June 5-6, 2015.

For more information, please contact us at wendy@breakthroughsfilmfestival.com, and check out our website: http://www.breakthroughsfilmfestival.com

Matthew Toffolo Interviews Founding Artistic Director Wendy Markson:

Matthew: Why is the city of Toronto the perfect fit for what you’re showcasing at the festival?

Wendy: Toronto is the 4th largest city in North America and one of the most multicultural cities in the world, allowing Breakthroughs to draw on a great diversity of emerging talent. As one of the main creative hubs in Canada and host of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), one of the largest and most influential film festivals worldwide, Toronto is home to a great many established and aspiring filmmakers and always draws new talent. Toronto also houses three world-class universities and countless film college programs, which guarantees a never-ending stream of new young women emerging at various stages of their film careers. Providing filmmakers with access to a diverse and well-developed filmmaking community along with all the tools they need to develop their work, Toronto is the ideal location for a festival showcasing the work of female artists as they negotiate their positions in this traditionally male-dominated industry.

Matthew: What is the goal of your film festival?

Wendy: Breakthroughs works to provide New Generation women filmmakers with more clear opportunities by offering the only festival in Canada devoted solely to short films made by young women. By promoting submissions to our festival, we hope to encourage the work of young women who may feel challenged by the male domination of the industry, allowing them to see our festival as a stepping stone, or ‘breakthrough’, towards their future development and success as filmmakers. At the same time, we hope that attendance at the festival will raise awareness of the under-representation of women filmmakers, by showcasing to both the film and larger cultural communities the great value women bring to the table.

Matthew: How has the festival changed since is began until now?

Wendy: Breakthroughs is only entering its 4th year, and has grown a little in size each year in the number of submissions received and attendance. In the last two years, we’ve also been fortunate to receive recognition and funding from the government of Ontario. While we previously accepted submissions from Canadian applicants only, for the first time in 2015 we are accepting submissions from the international community. As we are still in the early stages of growing our organization, the possibilities are endless! Currently, we are working towards partnering with other film festivals and cultural organizations to be able to more widely promote our unique offering to the local and international community.

Matthew: How many films are you showcasing at your Film Festival this year in how many days?

Wendy: Between 15 and 20 films over 2 days.

Matthew: Can you give us a sneak peak of what to expect for the 2015 Festival?

Wendy: Each year, we select the most interesting films to screen, while aiming to showcase the great variety of talent women filmmakers bring to the industry. As in previous years, we will screen short films from a variety of genres — comedy, drama, documentary, animation, etc. This year, by opening the festival to applicants from around the world, we hope to add an international flair to the variety we’ve already been able to showcase.

Matthew: Is there going to be an overall theme for the 2015 festival?

Wendy: The overall theme of each year’s Breakthroughs Film Festival is simply, yet importantly, the inspiring talent New Generation women filmmakers are bringing to the industry.

Matthew: Where do you see your festival in 5 years?

Wendy: In 5 years, we would like to see Breakthroughs emerge as one of the go-to festivals in Toronto for New Generation female artists to develop and showcase their work, as well as for others in the film industry to discover new talent. We hope to achieve this by partnering with more widely-known festivals and cultural organizations, and by welcoming more high-profile Toronto film industry names onto our Board of Directors.

Matthew: What’s the current status of the Film Scene in Toronto?

Wendy: Toronto is North America’s third largest screen-based production centre, thanks to world-class talent in every aspect of filmmaking. We are home to over 50 film festivals and counting! The Toronto film scene owes a lot to the huge success of TIFF, which in addition to its annual film festival, also acts year-round as a hub for film discovery and appreciation. Toronto is also huge in the documentary film scene with Hot Docs, the largest documentary festival in North America. Toronto’s vibrant film scene consistently draws a high volume and variety of talent from around the world, and it’s booming.

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

Wendy: My favorite childhood film was The Sound of Music, which I watched over and over again until I could not only sing all the songs, but even recite most of the dialogue from memory! Climb Every Mountain, sisters! Great message for young women. More recently, I’ve been watching and re-watching Samsara, a sort of global travelogue showcasing some of the most beautiful, and occasionally disturbing, real sites and scenes of our diverse world. It’s breathtaking.

Matthew: What else are you passionate about besides running this festival?

Wendy: I’m passionate about mindful communication, authenticity, self-expression, and the diverse beauty of the human experience. And with all those ideals in mind, encouraging people to work together rather than against each other to build the kind of world we want to live in.

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Matthew Toffolo, Interviewer BIO

Filmmaker of over 20 short films and TV episodes, Matthew Toffolo is the current CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival. He had worked for the organization since its inception in 2007 serving as the Short Film Festival’s moderator during the Audience Feedback sessions.

Go to http://www.wildsound.ca and submit your film, script, or story to the festival.

Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com and watch recent and past winning writing festival readings.