In brief: TIFF teams up with Inside Out

Plus: Amir Kahnamouee wins the 2018 Daryl Duke Prize, Canada honoured as a guest country at MICA and more.

TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 1-1TIFF partners with Inside Out

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has partnered with Inside Out to bring LGBTQ+ programming to the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Through the partnership, both organizations will organize stage talks, special presentations, pop-up retail experiences and more. TIFF will work with LGTBQ+ organizations like Pride Toronto, Planned Parenthood, Toronto People with AIDS Foundation, Supporting Our Youth and Trans Workforce to provide facilities, support and access to programming. The partnership will kick off with a free run of a virtual reality experience and immersive installation, Queerskins: a love story, presented by Aurora, from artists Illya Szilak and Cyril Tsiboulski. The month long installation will take place from June 2 to 30.

Canada to be honoured at MICA

Canada will be honoured as a guest country at Mexico’s third annual creative trade show, Mercado, Industria, Cine y Audiovisual (MICA), in June. During the five-day event held in Mexico City, Canada will participate in a series of networking and one-on-one events with Mexican creatives. According to the release about the announcement, Canada and Mexico are among each country’s largest two-way trading partners, with bilateral trade between the two valued at over $40 billion in 2016. In November 2017, Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly met with her Mexican counterpart, Secretary of Culture María Cristina García Cepeda, to discuss how to strengthen cultural ties between the two countries. After her four-day mission, Joly announced a raft of initiatives, including the launch of CanadaNOW, a film festival that will travel to more than 20 Mexican cities. In addition, the two countries also agreed to establish a Creativity and Culture agenda under the Canada-Mexico Partnership (CMP), while the Secretariat of Culture of the United Mexican States and the Canada Council for the Arts signed a letter of intent to increase artistic exchange. MICA runs from June 5 to 9 in Mexico City. 

Amir Kahnamouee wins the 2018 Daryl Duke Prize

Amir Kahnamouee has been named the winner of the 2018 Daryl Duke Prize for his script “Port of Call.” The $25,000 award aims to support an up-and-coming Canadian film and TV writer to complete a new draft, which will be submitted to a jury. “Port of Call” is inspired by the real life experiences of his uncle who immigrated to Canada with his family during the Iranian Revolution. The script follows Ali, who, upon landing in Montreal, is forced to take on a position as a nighttime parking lot attendant to pay for his education. The Daryl Duke Prize was first launched in 2016 by the Daryl Duke Foundation to celebrated the Canadian film and TV creator. Kahnamouee’s screenplay was selected through a blind process from among 98 entries.

Whistler Film Festival selects finalists for the Praxis Screenwriters Lab

The Whistler Film Festival (WFF) has picked six Canadian screenwriters to take part in its six-month Praxis Screenwriters Lab. Produced in association with Telefilm Canada and Vancouver’s Praxis Centre for Screenwriters, the lab focuses on advancing feature-length projects in the script stage from independent screenwriters across the country. Daryl Duke winner Amir Kahnamouee will take part in the program with his script “Port of Call,” along with Cathryn Atkinson’s “Charley the Liar,” Jeff Rosenbjork’s “The Skins Game,” Justin Neal’s “Land of the Raven,” Sophie Caird’s “When He Gets to Her,” and Agam Darshi’s “Indians in Cowtown.” In 2014, the Praxis Centre for Screenwriters moved into an expanded partnership with the Whistler Film Festival. The Praxis Screenwriters Lab is split into two phases, with the second phase including market meetings at the Whistler Film Festival in November.

WIFT-V announces its annual Spotlight Award winners

Women in Film and Television Vancouver (WIFT-V) has named its annual Spotlight Award winners. The awards celebrate the hard work and dedication of women in the screen-based industry. Winners include First Weekend Club founder Anita Adams, who will receive the Teamsters 155 Woman of the Year award; actress Camille Sullivan (The Birdwatcher), recipient of the UBC/ACTRA Artistic Achievement award; and Loretta Todd (Coyote’s Crazy Smart Science Show), winner of the Thunderbird Entertainment Artistic Innovation award. Marie Clements (Red Snow) will receive the organization’s new DGC-BC Impact Award. The new award is presented to a person who has had a significant impact through breaking barriers and challenging perceptions. Other Spotlight Award winners set to be honoured include Angie Nolan, Nadia DiMofte, Kim Guise, Arielle Boisvert, Jody Wilson, Anaïsa Visser, Amanda Burke and Anna Serner. Recipients will be honoured at a gala hosted by comedian Tracey Bell on June 19.

Love Nature adds new faces to its team

Love Nature, a joint venture between Toronto-based Blue Ant Media and Smithsonian Networks, has added two new production executives to its Washington, D.C. office. Alison Barrat has been appointed VP, production and development, while James Manfull has been named executive producer for the company. In her new role, Barrat is responsible for executing programming strategies for Love Nature’s international channels through development and production. In addition, she will scout and develop production and on-screen talent and serve as the main point of creative contact for both in-house and independent production companies. Barrat recently worked for the Living Oceans Foundation, a not-for-profit research organization dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans. She has produced films for clients like the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, PBS and the National Geographic Channel. Effective immediately, she will report to Carlyn Staudt, EVP, programming and development, Love Nature.

Meanwhile, Manfull, who will join Love Nature in August, will report to Barrat. In his new position, he will oversee the production of Love Nature’s commissioned series and documentaries, in addition to identifying, reviewing and developing projects for the brand’s slate with Barrat. His previous credits include senior roles at Discovery Communications as an exec producer and as a staff series producer for National Geographic Television.

Digital Dimension hires Julie Cardinal

Digital Dimension has appointed Julie Cardinal as its new director, executive producer. Cardinal will oversee producers, project managers and coordinators at the Montreal-based 3D animation studio. She first joined Digital Dimension in 2005 as a VFX and animation producer.In 2011 she moved to MELS as a VFX and animation producer and in 2014 she became a senior VFX producer for Atomic Fiction. Digital Dimension recently changed its logo and business focus to direct its efforts towards exclusively working on 3D animated films and series.

Amazon saves The Expanse

Amazon Studios has picked up season four of former Syfy series The Expanse. The tech giant’s CEO Jeff Bezos made the announcement at a panel at the National Space Society in Los Angeles on May 25. The Toronto-shot sci-fi drama based on James S.A. Corey’s book series of the same name follows a feud between Mars and Earth. Produced by Alcon Television Group, the series will continue on Amazon’s streaming service, Amazon Prime.