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"The Reelworld FIlm Festival is a must for any Canadian BIPOC artist or film industry professional."
Artist / Producer
"The Reelworld Film Festival had a pivotal role in my development as a filmmaker. In 2003 I was named a TRAILBLAZER in the Reelworld Festival Program which recognized my short films and gave me a platform to articulate my voice and artistic vision. This honour gave me the confidence to apply for the First Annual Tony Stoltz Completion Fund Award for my first feature Devotion that was in post-production at the time. Devotion was selected as the winner by a jury of industry professionals and the funding was essential to completing the sound edit of the film. Reel World’s support also enabled me to acquire a Dolby license which elevated the film’s production value. In 2005, Devotion won The Reelworld Film Festival’s Star! Audience Award which was an enormous surprise and led to further media exposure and international film festival screenings. I still remember going up to accept the award and seeing my community of peers, friends and festival goers whose support encouraged me to continue to pursue my dreams"
“Reelworld gave me the confidence I needed early in my career to persevere, and they’ve continued to do the same for other young filmmakers over the years, making them an invaluable organization for the ethnically diverse and under privileged cinematic arts communities across Canada and abroad.”
Michael L. Suan
Producer, Director, KingSky Productions Int’l Ltd.
“The Emerging 20 summit is a fantastic gateway for all emerging filmmakers to get the opportunity to tell their stories. Graduates come out of the program more experienced and confident. I personally have been able to pitch to networks such as CBC, Bell Media, Rogers and Netflix! The E20 is a great way to groom the filmmakers and storytellers of the future!”
2017 E20 Alumni
“Reelworld was ahead of it's time, showcasing, promoting and amplifying diverse voices decades before it was a mainstream conversation. The E20 program has impacted my career by introducing me to talented filmmakers, whom I connected with and we've mutually supported each other as we rise up through the film industry together. There is nothing more important than community.”
"Being a Reelworld Alumni has benefited me greatly and professionally on the international stage. Not only had it introduced me to the world of producing but it also helped me to create the right strategies to get my projects further in the development and financing stages. Reelworld has been the pioneer of diversity long before it became trendy. My experience with the E20 program has cultivated life long friendships and relationships and it is the perfect incubator for emerging film creatives".
Natasha Semone Vassell
“Through participating in the Reelworld E20 Program in 2017, I met close friends who I'm still collaborating with and got invaluable experience learning how to pitch to different funders. Reelworld really helped jumpstart my film There's No Place Like This Place Anyplace, by selecting me for Telefilm's Talent to Watch Program. With the Talent to Watch funding, I was able to get the rest of my film funded and finish my first feature, which is premiering at Hot Docs 2020.”
2017 E20 Alumni
"Participating in Reelworld had a significant impact on my career. I established industry relationships that I continue to maintain. To be recognized as one of the country's top 20 emerging creators of color has helped open doors that may not have otherwise been opened. Reelworld Film Festival is an invaluable asset, for which I am grateful."
2019 E20 Alumni
“I am eternally grateful to Reelworld Film Festival for its support and faith in me, as a first-generation Tamil filmmaker. I've been working in the screen industries for just over 10 years now and it is only with Reelworld's nomination through the E-20 Program, that I was in the position to receive funding for my first feature drama This Place, through Telefilm Canada's Talent to Watch Program. For artists like me, who did not go to film school or follow a "traditional" path, Reelworld is a space that creates direct access for marginalized and often-excluded filmmakers to realize their dreams. I entered the program with the hopes that I could work towards making my dream of bringing this project to fruition. Through the mentorship I received, I submitted the project for consideration, which was then championed by the Reelworld team, resulting in our success in receiving funding to finally make the film. Now in post-production, I am realizing my dream as a direct result of the platform the festival provides for Black, Indigenous, and other filmmakers of colour. At a time where filmmakers like myself continue to create on the margins, Reelworld helps to centre our stories, by celebrating and supporting our work. This is precisely why Reelworld is so crucial to our communities, helping us navigate the screen industries, as we continue to learn and grow forward. I am ever grateful to Reelworld for working with me to ensure that I can continue onward, practicing my craft and creating new stories for the screen.”
2017 E20 Alumni
"Reelworld was one of the first festivals I ever attended, and showed work at. In fact I made a short film (Poor Man's Conversation, 2003) shortly after graduating, just to attend the festival! Luckily I got in, and that's where I met some amazing folks. Not just Tonya Williams, and the gang of well-wishers and organizers, but a group of other young talent, spread across various communities and backgrounds, that gave me the confidence to keep going. I watched films at that edition of the festival that inspired me, and others that angered me (in a good way). All of it was fuel. And by the end of that festival, I made a pact with a small group of artists, to go to India and make a short film. That short, Amal, paved the way for the rest of my career, and those collaborations persist today, 17 years later."
“Since the inception of my career, Reelworld has been a part of it. From introductions to like minded and creatives, to projects screening at the festival. I will always be grateful to Reelworld for not just supporting me, but for also understanding me as an artist and person of colour in the film industry.”
2019 Trailblazer Recipient
“Reelworld has played an integral role in shaping the career I have today. In 2017, my project The 410 was accepted into Telefilm’s Micro Budget Program through Reelworld. The three-episode series went on to air on CBC Gem, screened at Slamdance 2020 in Park City, and was nominated for three Canadian Screen Awards! As a young actor, I had my early short films screen at Reelworld through their initiative with ACTRA/ and YEAA -The Young Emerging Actor’s Assembly. Since I've entered the arts, I’ve always known Reelworld to be a champion of diverse voices and an organization that fights to give storytellers like myself a leg up. Without their support, I wouldn’t be the filmmaker I am today.”
"The Reelworld E20 program gave me & my voice as a creator of colour a huge vote of confidence. The program provided critical feedback on my project & helped me craft a stronger sense of its place in the market. The connections I've made as an Emerging 20 at Reelworld continue to enrich my journey as a storyteller & I believe Reelworld enriches the arts in Canada as a whole. Thank you Reelworld & Tonya Williams!"
2018 E20 Alumni
“Reelworld was very helpful when I started out my career. It allowed me to broaden my network and meet other people working on their craft. I learnt a lot about myself and how to set my career on a successful path.
I am very appreciative of all the support I received from Tonya and the Reelworld team. Future artists have a safe and caring space and place to develop, hone and showcase their talents.”
“Reelworld has helped me become the artist that I am in so many ways. First off, it introduced me to my favourite film of all time Nairobi Half Life. They embraced me in the Emerging 20 and gave me the skills to move ahead on a project. They introduced me to industry veterans who are still my mentors to this very day. No idea what I'd do without them. They are a crucial resource for young diverse artists in this industry. I don't think there's any organization like it anywhere else.”
“I would like to congratulate Reelworld on its twentieth anniversary. Throughout its history, Reelworld has remained committed to creating positive social change through film and its cumulative effect both on Canadian film-makers and on audiences has been significant.
Reelworld gave me one of its earliest Trailblazer Awards, for which I remain very grateful. Despite having received over 110 other awards, it remains a very significant and much appreciated milestone in my development as it is only one of two Canadian awards I have ever received. It gave me an important impetus to continue my work to better the human condition through mass communications.
“The Reelworld E20 program has been a major stepping stone in my film career. Not only did I receive valuable feedback on both my pitching skills and my feature film project in development, but I also met and have maintained relationships with many top industry professionals. It was an honour to be selected for this program. I will always advise any emerging creator I meet to apply.”
“As a South Asian-Canadian screen artist, Reelworld has constantly been by my side, fostering my career as it has done for so many diverse Canadian artists. As an E20 alumni, Reelworld's speed networking events and panels helped my partner and I refine our package for the dramatic short film "Captive Love", which was necessary to make the film a reality. Through Reelworld's partnership with ACTRA Toronto, this festival showcased some of the first screen projects I wrote, which was a stepping stone for me getting into the WGC Diverse Screenwriters Program and eventually becoming a WGC member writing for television. Most recently, Reelworld premiered "Maternal", the short film I wrote about privilege in the arts. Maternal went on to a highly successful festival run, its lead actor was nominated for an ACTRA Toronto award, and this summer will join the CBC Reflections collection. In Toronto, Reelworld is the home for all ethnically diverse artists, understanding their needs and giving them a voice to show that our stories do matter.”
“Reelworld Festival had a huge impact on my career. I started out as a student volunteer at Reelworld Film Festival in 2002, and this led to my short film opening up the festival in 2003. In 2004 I made my debut as a music video director and screened “Boy Like You” during that festival as well as “Yoga” in 2009. All of that led me to connecting with the most incredible people in the industry which opened the doors to the amazing creative career that I have now.”
Manager, Production - T71, Corus Tempo
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