Film has no limits

An interview with filmmaker Alexandra Bailey


At just 23 years old, Alexandra Bailey is already making a splash in the international film scene. Her work has been shown by the Governor General’s Office, Al Jazeera, VICE, CBC, and over 50 festivals worldwide.

We caught up with Alex to discuss her career trajectory, as well as her time at TIFF, which she says showed her that “film has no limits.”

Alex Bailey at work

How did you get your start as a filmmaker? How has TIFF affected and inspired you throughout your career?

I began my journey into filmmaking when I was 14 years old, creating a short film using a camera borrowed from my high school, with a budget of 10 dollars. I was completely surprised it won top prize at that year’s TIFF Jump Cuts Film Festival, which recognizes the best films by young people across Ontario. And during that moment, I never could have imagined the effects [that] making this film, and the impact that early relationship with TIFF, would continue to have on my life. They welcomed my excitement at becoming involved with the filmmaking community with open arms.

As a teenager with no connection to the industry, TIFF has provided me with incredible exposure to film education over the past nine years, with the only requirement being that I believed in the power of film. I quickly became involved with creating the criteria for what has now become the TIFF Next Wave Committee, a group of teenagers dedicated to providing opportunities for young people from all backgrounds to learn about film. I was fortunate to be selected as a member of the Next Wave Committee for various years, and through my involvement, I was inspired by hundreds of stories, filmmakers, and actors to whom I otherwise would have never had access. My ideas as a young filmmaker were always welcomed and listened to. The time I spent working actively with Next Wave shaped my perspective on films and the world.

What are some opportunities which have come from your participation with TIFF?

It is impossible for me to list all of the opportunities that my participation with TIFF has opened for me. Participating in the Hot Docs Accelerator Program, becoming an apprentice for the Director's Guild of Canada at the age of 18, having my work shown at international festivals, and connecting with mentors such as producer Mark Lipson and writer Ron J. Friedman are just a few of examples of what I have been exposed to. What I am most grateful to TIFF for, though, is to have spent my early years with their encouragement and support. They instilled in me the belief that storytelling changes the world and that stories are worth fighting for. TIFF encouraged me to be fearless and to approach every opportunity and story, even those that seem out of reach, with strength, passion, and commitment — to reach out, embrace, and tell the stories that run close to our hearts.

Alex Bailey at work

As a young woman working in the film industry, what does the Share Her Journey campaign mean to you?

It fills me with joy that the Share her Journey initiative exists. Knowing that other female filmmakers will be able to experience the same support, dedication, and unwavering commitment that TIFF has provided me with for almost a decade excites me and I cannot wait to see their work. Without TIFF, I would not be an emerging female filmmaker in Canada. I cannot wait to see the amazing and diverse stories, talent, and visions that Share Her Journey brings to the forefront of Canadian and international filmmaking.

Which Share Her Journey ambassador inspires you?

All of the Share Her Journey Ambassadors inspire me in their own way. From Betty-Ann Heggie’s blazing charitable work for women in film to Deepa Mehta’s fearless dedication to her stories, all of the Share Her Journey Ambassadors are such unique, innovative individuals. It is impossible to pick just one.

Is there anything you would like to say to a woman who may not feel empowered to share her voice?

I have yet to come across a woman who does not feel empowered to share her voice, but circumstantially has not been able to, due to sexism or positions of power. It is easy as a woman from a developed country to say things and keep fighting for your story, beliefs, and dreams, but it is rarely that simple. All I can offer is my gratitude and admiration to the women of the world who tell their stories through their own methods every day. I offer my gratitude and admiration to the women of the world who are telling their stories, even when facing danger, but courageously finding a way, blazing the way for women everywhere.

On one last note, I wanted to say thank you TIFF for your dedication to women in film. For filmmakers like myself, it means the world.

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