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Writers' Studio

Since 2012, TIFF Writers’ Studio has provided Canadian participants with a fulsome, curated experience through a unique integration of public and private programming. The programme offers a space for screenwriters to consolidate skills, exchange ideas, and discuss challenges, all within a collaborative five-day intensive lab at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Participants are supported to take their careers and projects to the next level as they participate in workshops, panel discussions, peer-to-peer mentorship, and one-on-one project development consultations guided by Canadian and international experts. For the first time, in 2021 TIFF invited international screenwriters to apply.

2021 Writers’ Studio Participants

Maha Al-Saati (Saudi Arabia)
From the West the Sun will Rise

Maha Al-Saati is an independent filmmaker exploring issues surrounding femininity and gender in the Arab world. Her short films include Hair: The Story of Grass (18) and Cycle of Apples (19). She was also a TIFF Share Her Journey Fellow in 2020, and she is a 2021 HFPA Residency Fellow.

Jonathan Beaulieu-Cyr (Canada)

Jonathan Beaulieu-Cyr’s work is characterized by his strong collaborations. His latest short script, Écume, premiered at the 70th Berlinale and was named to the 2020 list of TIFF Canada’s Top Ten Shorts. His first feature film, Mad Dog Labine (18), won the National Competition Award at the Festival du nouveau cinéma and was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award in 2020.

Adrianna DiLonardo (Canada)
Light Years

Adrianna DiLonardo is a screenwriter from Toronto. Her feature film credits include Almost Adults (16) and Nobody Famous (17). She is currently developing two feature films: ExMas with Comedy Dynamics, and Light Years, which was selected for the CFC’s 2018 Telefilm Canada Feature Comedy Exchange program and was shortlisted for the TIFF–CBC Films Screenwriter Award.

Jason Filiatrault (Canada)
Now, I Am A Bear

Jason Filiatrault is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. His recent credits include two seasons of the Netflix original series The Order; an episode of the crime drama Tribal on APTN; and his debut feature, Entanglement, which earned Filiatrault the Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Award for Best Feature Film. Filiatrault is currently developing two half-hour series, including Tracy and Unicorn for Amazon Prime International.

Abraham Gezahagne (Ethiopia)
Mehal Sefari

Abraham Gezahagne is the award-winning Ethiopian director behind the feature films Mizewochu (The Best Man), 2008; Lomi Shita (The Scent of Lemon), 2012; and Yenegen Alowoldem (I Won’t Bear Tomorrow), 2016. Both took home multiple Gumma Awards — the Ethiopian film industry’s most prestigious award — including Best Director.

Karabo Lediga (South Africa)

Karabo Lediga has worked as a television director for the last 10 years in studio-based news satire, sketch comedy, and long-form narrative comedy. Her short film What Did You Dream? (19) screened in competition at the 2020 Clermont Ferrand International Short Film Festival and the Palm Springs International ShortFest

Silvina Schnicer (Argentina/Germany)
The Cottage

Silvina Schnicer wrote and directed the short films La Bicha (10) and Destello (16), along with Ulises Porra. Tigre (17), their first feature film, had its world premiere in the Discovery section of the Toronto International Film Festival and screened at the San Sebastian International Festival. With her first solo film, The Cottage, she participated in the Ibero-American Film Projects Course in Madrid. She participated in “12 Miradas” at the Festival Internacional de la Habana in 2018, and in the Festival de Málaga’s MAFIZ in 2019. In September 2019, she was part of TIFF Filmmaker Lab as a TIFF Canada Goose Fellow.

Taratoa Stappard (New Zealand/United Kingdom)

Taratoa Stappard is an award-winning writer-director born in Aotearoa, New Zealand. His father was English and his mother is Māori (Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa). His first feature, Mārama, won BFI Early Development Funding and was selected for the 2020 imagineNATIVE Indigenous Screenwriting Intensive. This year he will direct his half-hour script, Taumanu (Reclaim) in New Zealand, for an anthology of supernatural Māori stories commissioned by Television New Zealand. He was a 2019 Edinburgh International Film Festival Talent Lab participant, and he received a 2020 John Brabourne Award from the Film and TV Charity.