Held annually during the Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF Talent Lab is an artistic development programme intended for aspiring Canadian and international filmmakers. This extremely competitive programme provides 20 emerging directors and screenwriters with an intensive learning experience that seeks to further develop their creativity, artistic process, and voice. With guidance from some of the best-known and most esteemed experts in independent cinema from around the world, TIFF Talent Lab is designed to launch the careers of the next generation of filmmakers.

Meet the 2017 Participants

Nathalie Álvarez Mesén

Nathalie Álvarez Mesén is a Swedish–Costa Rican writer and director. Her short film Filip (15) was awarded Best Live Action short under 15 minutes in Palm Springs International ShortFest 2016 and has screened in prestigious festivals around the world. Her short Asunder (15) screened at the Telluride Film Festival 2016. She was also part of Berlinale Talents in 2017. She’s currently studying an MFA in film directing and screenwriting at Columbia University while working on the development of her first feature film, Clara Sola, a Swedish/Colombian co-production.

Jessica Beshir

Jessica Beshir is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker born in Mexico City and raised in Ethiopia. She made her directorial debut with the short film Hairat (16), which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Her short film He Who Dances on Wood (16) premiered at the 2017 Hot Docs Film Festival. Most recently she directed Heroin (17), which made its world premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. Currently, Beshir is working on her first feature documentary set in Ethiopia and developing her first feature narrative.

Talent Lab participation supported by The Consulate General of Mexico in Toronto.

Mamadou Dia

Mamadou Dia is a Senegalese director currently based in New York, where he is finishing his MFA at Tisch School of the Arts. His stories are rooted in daily intimate realities inspired by his life growing up in Senegal and travelling across Africa. His shorts have been selected for international festivals such as the African Film Festival, Inc., the Toronto International Film Festival, and the Venice International Film Festival. He is currently working on his first feature film set in today's northern Senegal.

Alexandre Dostie

Alexandre Dostie is a poet and performer from Quebec. He created the web series Sainte-Cecile (10), and his first poem collection, Shenley, was published in 2014 with many public readings and a second print run the following year. His first short film, Mutants (16), won the Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Short Film at TIFF, Best Canadian Short Work at the Whistler Film Festival, the prestigious Best Live Action Short Film at the Canadian Screen Awards, and the IRIS of Quebec's best short fiction.

Belén Funes

Belén Funes is a scriptwriter and director from Barcelona. Her first short, Sara’s Runaway (14), won two Biznagas at the Malaga Film Festival and was also one of the candidates at the 30th Goya Awards. She is currently about to premiere her second short film, La Inútil (The Hopeless) (17), while she is developing her first feature film, An Elder Sister.

Connor Gaston

Connor Gaston is an award-winning filmmaker from Victoria, BC. His work has screened at film festivals around the world, including the Toronto and Vancouver International Film Festivals. Gaston’s first feature film, The Devout (15), premiered at the Busan International Film Festival, earned five Leo Awards in 2016, including Best Picture, and won him the BC Emerging Filmmaker Award at VIFF. Gaston is currently working on his second feature film through The Harold Greenburg Fund’s Shorts-to-Features Program.

Tinna Hrafnsdóttir

Tinna Hrafnsdóttir is an Icelandic director, screenwriter, producer, and two-time Edda Award–nominated actor. She holds an MBA from Reykjavik University and runs her own independent theatre company, Háaloftid, and film production company, Freyja Filmwork. Her short films include Helga (16) and Munda (17), the latter of which won the Shorts TV Pitch Contest at Cannes. In 2010, Hrafnsdóttir was the festival manager the Reykjavik International Film Festival, and last year she was in charge of the festival´s Talent Lab. She is also a casting director for Zik Zak Filmworks. Hrafnsdóttir was a member of the 2016 Young Nordisk Producers Club in Cannes, and is now developing her first feature film based on the award-winning novel Grand Mal by Auður Jónsdóttir.

Talent Lab participation supported by the Icelandic Film Centre.

Sara Kern

Sara Kern is a Slovenian-born writer and director based in Melbourne. Her award-winning film Maks (12) was distributed in Japan and screened at festivals worldwide. Her second short Good Luck, Orlo! (16) premiered at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. The film won awards at VIS Vienna Independent Shorts, at the Athens International Film + Video Festival, and from the Directors Guild of Slovenia. Kern is currently developing her debut feature Azra Nadine.

Talent Lab participation supported by Screen Australia.

Lawrence Le Lam

Lawrence Le Lam is a filmmaker from Richmond, BC. His award-winning film The Blue Jet (15) delves into the hippie movement in 1970s Taiwan. His most recent film, Cypher (17), captures the conflict between the Korean and Black communities during the ’90s in post-riot LA. His next project, and first feature, will explore the world of real estate, wealth migration, and wealthy Chinese satellite kids with luxury cars.

Jacqueline Lentzou

Jacqueline Lentzou is a writer and director from Athens. Her short film Fox (16) made its world premiere at the 69th Locarno International Film Festival, where it won Best International Short, while Hiwa (16) made its world premiere at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival. Earlier this year Lentzou was picked as a Spotlight guest in VIS Vienna Independent Shorts 2017 to present her body of work. She is currently developing her debut feature project in the Torino Film Lab.

Trevor Mack

Trevor Mack is an award-winning Tsilhqot'in nation filmmaker from British Columbia. His first short, The Blanketing (13), screened at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. Mack's second short film, Clouds of Autumn (15), debuted at TIFF and received awards for Best Canadian Short Drama at imagineNATIVE and Best Cinematography at the Air Canada enRoute Film Festival. Mack has recently completed filming his new short ʔEtsu (Grandmother), and is currently writing a feature film with Kathleen Hepburn with support from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Emilie Mannering

Emilie Mannering is a scriptwriter and director from Montreal. Her first short film, STAR (15), won several awards, including Best National Short Film at the Festival du nouveau cinema, and was nominated for Best Short Film at the Gala du Cinéma Québécois and the Canadian Screen Awards. Mannering also directed the feminist web series Les Brutes (16– ), which was nominated for the Prix Gémeaux. She is currently developing various film projects.

Samantha Nell

Samantha Nell is a South African writer and director who has worked in countries around the world. Her short films have played at festivals such as Cannes Film Festival, Palm Springs International ShortFest, and Durban International Film Festival. In 2017 she participated in Berlinale Talents. Her debut feature film Miles From Nowhere is in development with the support of the National Film and Video Foundation. She participated in Realness 2017, a pan-African screenwriter’s residency in Johannesburg, and presented Miles From Nowhere at the 2017 Durban FilmMart.

Ryan Noth

Ryan J. Noth is an award-winning filmmaker and editor based in Prince Edward County, Ontario. Noth’s most recent short films have premiered at TIFF, including The Road to Webequie (16), which was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award. The National Parks Project (11), which he created and produced, premiered at Berlinale, SXSW, and Hot Docs and won Genie, Gemini, and Interactive awards. He edited for the TIFF Official Selection The Stairs (16), which won the Toronto Film Critics Association prize for Best Canadian Feature Film.

Lina Roessler

Lina Roessler is an actor and director from Toronto. Her directorial debut, Little Whispers: The Vow (14), has screened at dozens of festivals, including TIFF Kids, and also won First Prize, Best Children's Short at the Rhode Island International Film Festival. Winter (15), the second film in the Little Whispers series, received its Canadian premiere at TIFF Kids 2016 and was selected to screen at Cannes as part of Telefilm Canada’s Not Short on Talent program. Mustard Seed (16), is the third short in the series.

Jorge Thielen-Armand

Jorge Thielen Armand is a Venezuelan director based in Toronto. His debut feature film La Soledad (16) premiered at the Venice International Film Festival and has since won six international awards. His documentary Flor de la Mar (15) won the Jury Award for Best Documentary Short at Cine Las Americas International Film Festival, and screened at over 20 festivals around the world. In 2015, he founded La Faena with Rodrigo Michelangeli, a production company dedicated to art-house films.

Jenni Toivoniemi

Jenni Toivoniemi is a writer and director based in Helsinki. Her latest short film, The Committee (16), premiered at Locarno and won prizes at the Bergen International Film Festival, the Norwegian Short Film Festival, and the Minimalen Short Film Festival. Her short comedy The Date (12) also won several awards, and her feature film Korso (14) premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Toivoniemi has also written two produced plays, the second of which will premiere in the Finnish National Theatre in 2017.

Talent Lab participation supported by The Finnish Film Foundation.

Thyrone Tommy

Thyrone Tommy is an award-winning Toronto-based filmmaker. His films have been celebrated internationally at more than 30 festivals. Tommy’s most recent short, Mariner (16), premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was later named one of TIFF’s Canada's Top Ten Shorts. His work has been supported with grants from NBCUniversal Canada, Kodak Motion Picture Film, and the Ontario Arts Council, and he was also the 2017 Lindalee Tracey Award Winner. Tommy is currently developing a feature version of Mariner, as well as the feature To Live and Die in Rexdale.

Heather Young

Heather Young is a Nova Scotia-based filmmaker from New Brunswick. Her short film Fish (16) played at festivals around the world, including the Palm Springs International ShortFest, the Festival du nouveau cinéma, and VIS Vienna Independent Shorts. It also won Best Short Film at the Screen Nova Scotia Awards, and was included in the Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival. Young just finished post-production on a new short film called Milk.

Wei-Ning Yu

Wei-Ning Yu is a Montreal-born, Los Angeles–based Taiwanese screenwriter. She has an MFA in screenwriting from the American Film Institute and has worked in foreign sales and acquisitions at Odd Lot Entertainment. Wei-Ning adapted the screenplay for Winter Light (15), based on a short story by acclaimed author James Lee Burke, which screened at over 40 film festivals around the world and was shortlisted as a top-ten finalist for the 2016 Academy Awards. Wei-Ning also penned the adaptation of the upcoming The Inverted Forest, and is currently developing a number of original feature film and television projects.

Supported by: Ivan Reitman

Talent Lab would like the thank the following consulates for their support:

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