Toronto Film Week celebrates independent voices in cinema 

A tragic true story of five Indigenous people, a struggling artist in a rural town in Ontario, and more at Toronto Film Week.

Local and international filmmakers present a diverse array of films at this year’s Toronto Film Week, an annual celebration of independent cinema. The festival runs from April 1 to 5 and will feature 30 independent films on local screens at the Fox Theatre. While this year marks its second consecutive year, the festival has been a part of the film community since its launch in 2016, with subsequent events in 2017 and most recently in 2023.

Toronto Film Week aims to strike a balance between commercially appealing films and artistically challenging ones. Maarten Cornelis, the festival manager, says it’s designed to complement the Toronto Arthouse Festival. Cornelis says that out of 800 submissions, 30 were selected this year for their quality and storytelling approaches.

Festival Director, Chris Demeester leads a team that evaluates and selects the films. Their goal is to create a themed story that complements and connects them together. “We try to find films that are not represented by anybody and that we really think should be shown to the audience. We try to find those and give them a chance,” Cornelis says.

Opening the festival is the award-winning feature, Atikamekw Suns, about the deaths of five Indigenous people from the Atikamekw First Nation in Quebec. Nicholas Koscik’s short documentary, Dear Friend, Where Have You Gone? focuses on the mental health struggles of a northern Ontario artist and the lack of support for the arts in rural areas.

Koscik said he hopes audiences take away something from his film. “Definitely my hope for this is that there is a conversation that sparks in terms of the correlation between being able to pursue your arts as well as mental health. But also, I hope that people focus on Northern Ontario or any part of northern Canada that is a bit more remote or rural.”

Toronto Film Week is an outlet for independent filmmakers like Koscik to share their stories with the world. “Toronto Week is such a great and important event because it focuses on independent artists — very much free thinkers.” He adds, “Approach it with an open mind and they’ll just be able to see at that rate just how much talent there is out there that isn’t being noticed.”

Tickets for Toronto Film Week are free for Fox Members and $7+HST for non-members. Cornelis says, “It’s about the film and the filmmaker, not about the film festival — it’s about showing them in a great theatre.”

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Posted: Mar 30 2024 5:16 pm
Filed under: Arts & Life Entertainment News