This weekend is the Breakthroughs Film Festival in Toronto, a festival featuring short films created by women all around the world and I was so thrilled to talk to Ashley Catania, the Chair of the Board of Directors for the festival!
If you want to purchase tickets for the festival, you can do so here.
KG: What is the Breakthroughs Film Festival?
AC: It’s the only film festival in Canada that features short films directed by emerging women directors. This year we have nineteen film confirmed over two days, June 15th and 16th, and it’s specifically to showcase the work of new women directors.
KG: So, why is it important to you to share films that are exclusively from women directors?
AC: I’ve been the chair for just about six months. I’ve been on the board for almost two years and what drew me to participate in this was definitely seeing the need for more women in the industry. It’s nice to see that it’s now a popular conversation, but when I first started out going out, going to school, it definitely wasn’t being talked about as much. But I did see the need for content to shift and have more balance in kind of the narrative itself, the way that stories are being told, the types of stories being told. It was always skewing to a male audience and from a male perspective, I’m sure you’ve probably seen a lot of films that feel that way.
KG: YEP! So many.
AC: Yep it’s kind of, you know, you walk into a movie theatre and you’re bombarded by male ego and male stories and the women were, if they’re in the film they’re the love interest or they’re, you know, these super hot models who are cast as actors.
KG: So, can you tell me more about the grant, the post-production grant that you give to women?
AC: Yeah! So, every year we contribute $1000 to a post-production grant but it’s technically the value of $2500. So, we are partnered with Red Square. We fund $1000 for them to be able to do any basic final edits on their film, they send in their storyline, any rough cuts that they’ve created, who they are, what their mission is, that kind of thing. I think this year, we had eight submissions and then as a board we narrow it down to our top two and the go from there. Red Square is our partner, so they contribute about $1500 in post-production services. They provide access to the software or a range of different things, just to clean up the film and wrap it up. Sometimes that would be music or additional graphics and that kind of thing. The winner this year, her name is Danielle Ayow and her film is But You’re Not Black and it looks at, I believe she has ancestry that isn’t obvious when you look at her, so it’s a discussion of identity and perception and that kind of thing. It really struck a lot of us a an important conversation, so we’re really excited to be able to fund some of her work.
KG: That’s awesome! What do you hope that attendees take away from the festival?
AC: I hope they see a really diverse range of content, that’s something that’s really special to the program because we program from directors from around the world, you’re seeing stories that wouldn’t reach the mainstream screen and they don’t have funding or marketing behind them so us putting them in the festival and then us generating the audience gets those films seen by more people. We have short docs, we have animated content, we have quite a few dramas this year, and short narrative. You’re seeing a lot of different, important stories from a woman’s perspective and I think that’s really unique. Especially to see it on a big screen, it’s one thing to see it, if you happen to get the content on your laptop and you’re watching it as a small group, it’s just really important to see it on a big screen with an audience and be able to discuss after, we have Q & A’s with some of the directors so it’s just a really nice experience and it’s a privilege for the filmmakers who are up and coming as well.
Thanks again to Ashley Catania for taking the time to talk to me! If you can make it to the festival this weekend, I totally recommend. What’s better than watching women’s stories on the big screen?