Industry - Fest21 - Talent Accelerator

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Talent Accelerator

TIFF Talent Accelerator is a programme that provides year-round mentorship to a select group of women who are emerging producers, directors, and screenwriters in Canada. A shortlist of candidates, created through an internal nomination system from TIFF’s network of industry contacts and alumni, will be presented to a committee that will select six outstanding women: two producers, two directors, and two screenwriters. With the goal of fast-tracking careers and projects, TIFF Industry will provide programming to spur artistic, professional, and project development.

This opportunity is made possible by generous donations to TIFF’s Share Her Journey campaign.

Group of four young women posing in hallway.

The 2021 Talent Accelerator Participants

Omolola Ajao

Omolola Ajao is a Nigerian-Canadian playwright and filmmaker. Existing in the realm of Black realism and magical Black realism, her priority in filmmaking and playwriting is to create Black interiority and complex emotionality, carefully presenting the specific lives of people she knows and creates. Her first film, Prodigal, documented three young African women on their burgeoning conceptions of home and was screened nationally. Her second film, YYZ, was acquired by CBC Gem and won a Canadian Screen Award. Her third film, Fufu, is currently on the festival circuit. Revelations, in development, is her first feature film.

Sarra El Abed

Sarra El Abed finished her degree in film direction at UQAM in 2018, where she was awarded the best fiction prize for her graduation project. Ain’t No Time For Women (Y’a pas d’heure pour les femmes) is her fourth film and has won multiple awards in national and international festivals such as Clermont-Ferrand, RIDM, and Slamdance. In April, she won the award for Best Canadian Short at the Hot Docs Festival, making her film eligible for the Oscars. Flirting between fiction and documentary filmmaking, she likes to breathe whimsy into the ordinary and comedy into dramatic situations. She’s currently working on her first feature film, Adieu Minette.

Tamara Mariam Dawit

Tamara Mariam Dawit is an Ethiopian-Canadian producer and director. Her most recent film is the award-winning documentary Finding Sally (20), which premiered at Hot Docs. She is currently producing the feature documentary Made in Ethiopia and two Ethiopian feature dramas. In addition to producing, Dawit works as an advisor in the screen sector on programming and policies to address equity and inclusion. She is a founding board member of the Racial Equity Media Collective in Canada and of Ethiopia Creates and the East Africa Screen Collective in Africa. Dawit was a resident in both Docs In Progress and the Logan Nonfiction Program, and is an alumna of Berlinale Talents, Talents Durban, the Doha Producers’ Lab, Rotterdam Lab, APostLab, and EAVE.

Shehrezade Mian

Shehrezade Mian is an independent producer based in Toronto with a BFA from York University. She seeks to tell unconventional stories that bring light to under-represented communities, with a focus on South Asian narratives. A well-connected member of the Pakistani film and TV industry, Mian also acts as an international liaison between Canadian productions shooting in Pakistan and vice versa. In 2019, her feature film Concrete Valley was selected for Telefilm Canada’s Talent to Watch program and received funding from the Toronto and Ontario Arts Councils. Mian was also selected to participate in the WIFT Connect mentorship program as a mentee. She recently executive produced Worth (19), which won the Air Canada Short Film Award at the Reel Asian International Film Festival. She is currently in development for a series with Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, among several other projects.

Yasmine Mathurin

Yasmine Mathurin is a Haitian-Canadian writer, director, and podcast producer. Her first feature documentary film, One of Ours (21), which she wrote and directed with the support of CBC documentary channel and Sienna Films, won the DGC Special Jury Prize for Canadian Features at Hot Docs. She previously worked as an associate producer with CBC Original Podcast. She produced the audio-fiction podcast The Shadows, which won gold in the fiction category at the 2019 Digital Publishing Awards. She also produced season one of the CBC podcast Tai Asks Why, which won a Webby People’s Choice Award. She participated in the 2019 Netflix-BANFF Diversity of Voices Initiative. She is an alumna of the Hot Docs Documentary Lab, the UnionDocs Feature documentary lab, the Berlinale Doc Toolbox program, the DOC Breakthrough program, and Yale University’s THREAD multimedia storytelling fellowship. She holds a BA in Political Science and Nonprofit Management from York University and a Master of Journalism from Ryerson University.

Mayumi Yoshida

Mayumi Yoshida is an actor, writer, and director born in Japan and based in Vancouver. She is known for her role as Crown Princess in The Man in the High Castle. She’s an alumna of Women in the Director’s Chair Career Advancement Module and the Whistler Film Festival Women in Focus Mentorship, and is currently participating in the inaugural WarnerMedia Access x Canadian Academy Writers Program. Her directorial debut short, Akashi (17) — which she also wrote and acted in — won Outstanding Writer at the NBCUniversal Short Film Festival, among other awards. Tokyo Lovers (18) won Best Short at the Japan Film Festival Los Angeles. In 2019, she received the Newcomer Award at Vancouver Women in Film and Television Spotlight Awards for her success in multiple fields. Her latest, Harold Greenberg–funded short film In Loving Memory (19) is currently on its festival run. Yoshida is currently in development of her first feature film, and she is repped by Gersh, Atlas Literary and Characters Talent Agency.