Talent Lab to inspire Canadian filmmakers, say participants


Canadian producer Heather K. Dahlstrom expects a busy Toronto International Film Festival.

She’s set to attend the Talent Lab at TIFF, along with 24 other emerging Canadian industry participants from Sept. 5 to 8. The lab’s participants’ list was unveiled Wednesday, along with a host of other industry-oriented content as well as the Canadian films set to screen during the September festival.

This year’s Talent Lab includes industry mentors like British producer Stephen Woolley and Canadian doc maker Jennifer Baichwal.

Dahlstrom was among the industry talent on-hand during the Wednesday press conference.

“I’ll be there to meet new people, to meet new friends. Anytime I’ve been to a festival before, I’ve ended up working with them in some capacity,” Dahlstrom told Playback.

But her networking at the festival will be cut short on Sept. 12 when the cameras roll on the young producer’s next film, Peter Stebbings’ second feature Empire of Dirt, which will shoot for 16 days in and around Toronto.

The follow-up to Stebbings’ directorial debut in Defendor, Empire of Dirt is also produced by Jennifer Podemski and Geoff Ewart, and portrays a First Nations story about families rebuilding.

Fellow Talent Lab participant Ashley McKenzie, a Nova Scotia filmmaker with Grassfire Films, was chosen from among 500 applicants for the gathering to sharpen the skills of the country’s emerging filmmakers.

“I’m mostly there to soak up knowledge from the world’s best filmmakers. So I’m there to be inspired,” McKenzie insisted.