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Higher Learning: Breaking Free - Stories of Isolation and Struggle

  • Press & Industry screenings and events are only for accredited passes.

Moderated by TIFF Short Cuts Programmer Danis Goulet, this free, public Higher Learning panel explores four Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival selections with strong character journeys and themes of isolation and struggle: SNIP (Terril Calder), Old Stone (Johnny Ma), Werewolf (Ashley McKenzie), and Mariner (Thyrone Tommy).

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Thyrone Tommy

Thyrone Tommy is a Toronto-based filmmaker. His short films include Seed of a Deadbeat (12), Liar, Cheater, Whore (12), and Avalanche (14). Mariner (16) is his latest short film.

Terril Calder

Terril Calder is a Métis artist born in Fort Frances, Ontario. She studied film at the University of Manitoba and has directed several short films, including Vessel (13), Repercussions (13), The Traveling Medicine Show 3: Transformation (14), The "Lodge" (14), and SNIP (16).

Johnny Ma

Johnny Ma was born in Shanghai and raised in Canada. He studied film at Columbia University. His short film A Grand Canal (13) premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was a Canada’s Top Ten pick. Old Stone (16), his directorial debut and first feature film, premiered at Berlinale and was awarded the Best Canadian First Feature Film award at TIFF that year. The film also won the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television’s award for Best First Feature. His other short films include The Robbery (10), Play (11), and The Genius from Quintino (12).

Ashley McKenzie

Ashley McKenzie lives on Cape Breton Island on the Eastern coast of Canada. Her debut feature, Werewolf, screened at TIFF ‘16 and Berlinale, won the Grand Prix Focus QC/Canada at Festival du nouveau cinema, and was included in the Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival. McKenzie is the latest recipient of the Jay Scott Prize, which recognizes an emerging talent who is positively affecting the direction of Canadian cinema. Her short film work includes Rhonda’s Party (10), When You Sleep (12), Stray (13), and 4 Quarters (15).

Danis Goulet

Danis Goulet is co-programmer for the Festival’s Short Cuts programme. She is the former Artistic Director of the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, where she curated award-winning short film commissioning projects. She has developed initiatives for the Ontario Arts Council and served on the boards for the Toronto Arts Council and the Images Festival. As a director and TIFF Talent Lab alumna, her films have screened at venues around the world, including the Toronto International Film Festival, Berlinale, imagineNATIVE and the Sundance Film Festival.