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TIFF announces Writers’ Studio Class of 2024

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TIFF announces Writers' Studio Class of 2024
Writers’ Studio will take place April 15–19, 2024, at TIFF Lightbox.

TIFF has unveiled the lineup for the 2024 Writers’ Studio, an annual program fostering the next generation of storytellers. This year marks the 13th edition of the collaborative, five-day intensive lab, designed to empower Canadian and international screenwriters and writer-directors. From a pool of more than 200 submissions, TIFF has selected a cohort Zhannat Alshanova, Aram Collier, Rebecca Fisseha, Sophie Jarvis, Amy Trefry, and Asia Youngman.

The Writers’ Studio is a space to consolidate skills, exchange ideas, and navigate challenges, while participating in workshops, artist talks, peer-to-peer mentorships, and one-on-one project development consultations guided by industry experts. Writers’ Studio will take place April 15–19, 2024, at TIFF Lightbox.

“Programs like the Writers’ Studio continue to ignite and drive talent, both in Canada and on the global stage,” said Anita Lee, Chief Programming Officer, TIFF. “At TIFF, our commitment to fostering new talent will continue to grow with a focus on providing industry expertise and unparalleled access to industry leaders, ensuring the program’s enduring impact year after year.”

This year’s lab will support the development of feature-film scripts through dedicated one-on-one discussions with international story consultants Trey Ellis and Christina Lazaridi. Additionally, the participants will engage in daily artist talks and workshops facilitated by renowned filmmakers and industry experts including Ashley Comeau, Brad Fraser, Howard Wiseman and Emma Donoghue. Canadian actors, Getenesh Berhe, Vivien Endicott-Douglas, Thomas Antony Olajide and Ajuawak Kapashesit, will join for a full-day workshop of the projects in development.

New this year, the Sloan Science and Technology Writer Fellowship will offer a project development grant and targeted creative support for one emerging to mid-level feature film screenwriter whose project explores themes of science and technology. This year’s selected recipient is Amy Trefry for her project Lenin’s Embalmers, co-written with playwright Vern Thiessen. Funding for this programme is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Public Understanding of Science and Technology program.

Now in its third year, the Renee Perlmutter Memorial Fellowship for Literary Adaptation provides a Writers’ Studio participant focusing on adapting literary work for the screen with an additional grant toward developing their project. This year’s Renee Perlmutter Memorial Fellow is Rebecca Fisseha, who is working on an adaptation of her own debut novel Daughters of Silence.

Four participants from the 2024 class will also be awarded a grant generously supported by CHANEL, through the CHANEL Women Creators’ Network, to further the development of their feature-length script.

Notable TIFF Talent alumni include filmmakers Meredith Hama-Brown (Seagrass), Fawzia Mirza (The Queen of My Dreams), D. W. Waterson, and Devery Kawennáhere Jacobs (Backspot), Pier-Philippe Chevigny (Richelieu), Jasmin Mozaffari (Motherland), Lillah Halla (Power Alley), Álvaro Gago Dias (Matria), and Johanna Pyykkö (My Wonderful Stranger). Following their involvement in TIFF Talent Development programmes, many of these filmmakers have gone on to present their films at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Berlinale, and Cannes.

2024 TIFF Writers’ Studio participant biographies:

Portrait of Zhannat Alshanova
Zhannat Alshanova (UK)
Present Perfect
Originally from Kazakhstan, Zhannat is a London-based writer, director, and producer. Her short films has been screened at numerous international film festivals, such as Cannes, Sundance, TIFF, Locarno (Pardino d’Argento award for the Best Short Film). She is a London Film School (MA in Filmmaking) and Berlinale Talents alum.

Portrait of Aram Collier
Aram Collier (Canada)
Intro to Swimming
Aram’s feature, documentary, and experimental films have played festivals across North America and internationally. Collier is a mixed-race Asian Canadian/American originally from San Francisco, now based in Toronto, Canada. His Asian diasporic stories deal with race and class through a humanist lens of observed ironies.

Portrait of Rebecca Fisseha
Rebecca Fisseha (Canada)
Daughters of Silence
Rebecca Fisseha is an Ethiopian Canadian writer whose short stories, creative non-fiction, personal essays, and articles appear in various publications, most recently in Addis Ababa Noir, the Humber Literary Review, and Tongues: On Longing and Belonging Through Language. Born in Addis Ababa and raised there and in Austria and Switzerland, Rebecca is now based in Toronto, where she is working on the screenplay adaptation of her first novel, Daughters of Silence (Goose Lane Editions, 2019), and on completing her second novel, Only Because It’s You (Doubleday Canada, Spring 2025). Fisseha is a graduate of the Vancouver Film School’s program in Writing for Film & Television.

Portrait of Sophie Jarvis
Sophie Jarvis (Canada)
Taking the Waters
Sophie Jarvis is a Swiss Canadian filmmaker whose feature debut Until Branches Bend (TIFF ’22, SXSW ’23, Locarno ’23) earned her a nomination for Best Original Screenplay at the Canadian Screen Awards in 2023. Jarvis’ background as a production designer deeply informs her practice as a writer and director.

Portrait of Amy Trefry
Amy Trefry (Canada)
Lenin’s Embalmers
Amy Trefry is an emerging Canadian filmmaker, who elevates marginalized voices as a queer, non-binary storyteller. Their Masters in Environmental Sociology and upbringing on a Peregrine Falcon breeding facility fuel narratives entwining social and environmental themes. They are a 2022 graduate of the Canadian Film Centre, and were selected as one of ten emerging Canadian Television Producers by RDV Canada in 2021. Collaborating with playwright Vern Thiessin and guided by industry mentors, Trefry blends science and filmmaking, striving for cinematic inclusivity and representation.

Portrait of Asia Youngman
Asia Youngman (Canada)
Until It’s Time to Go
Asia Youngman is an award-winning Indigenous (Cree-Métis) filmmaker. She co-wrote, co-directed and executive produced I’m Just Here for the Riot (2023) for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. Her previous short films include N’xaxaitk’w (2022) and This Ink Runs Deep (2019), both of which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

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Cannes opens with French comedy and honorary award for Meryl Streep

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Actress Juliette Binoche hands an award to Meryl Steep
Meryl Streep receives a honorary Palme D’Or from Juliette Binoche | Photo: Andrea Rentz

The 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival officially opened last night with Quentin Dupieux’s Le Deuxième Acte (The Second Act), and an honorary Palme d’Or awarded to American actress Meryl Streep.

Presented Out of Competition as a world premiere on the Croisette last night, May 14, this four-part comedy was also released in all French cinemas on the same day. The film stars Lea Seydoux, Vincent Lindon, Louis Garrel and Raphaël Quenard playing squabbling actors filming a movie produced and directed by artificial intelligence.

The opening ceremony of the 77th Festival de Cannes, hosted at the  Grand Théâtre Lumière, also had American actress Meryl Streep as a guest of honour.

Streep received the Festival’s Honorary Palme d’or, 35 years after winning the Best Actress award for Evil Angels, her only appearance in Cannes until last night.

“My mother, who is usually right about everything, said to me: ’Meryl, my darling, you’ll see. It all goes so fast. So fast,″ added Streep. “And it has, and it does. Except for my speech, which is too long,” said the three time Oscar award-winning actress.

Last year French Film director Justine Triet won the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or for her murder mystery film “Anatomy of a Fall” becoming the third female filmmaker ever to win the prize, which was first awarded in 1955. 

The 77th Cannes Film Festival is set to run until May 25th, when the Palme d’Or winners will be revealed, 2024.

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Exhibition in Madrid reveals science and technology behind Pixar’s films

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Exhibition in Madrid reveals science and technology behind Pixar’s films
The Science Behind Pixar can be seen at CaixaForum Madrid until 8 September.

CaixaForum Madrid is currently hosting The Science Behind Pixar exhibition, created by the Museum of Science, Boston, in collaboration with Pixar Animation Studios. The exhibition is divided into eight sections, corresponding to the steps in the process Pixar uses to transform an idea into a film. With specific examples from some of their most famous films, the public will be able to experiment with the techniques behind the modelling, rigging, surfaces, sets and cameras, animation, simulation, lighting and rendering of animated films.

This is the third collaboration between the ”la Caixa” Foundation and Pixar Studios. In 2015, Pixar: 25 Years of Animation, represented a thorough review of this pioneering company’s work in computer animation in its 25 years of history. Subsequently, Pixar, Building Characters (which has travelled to five CaixaForums since 2020) focused on the visual design of the Pixar characters to best transmit the story and fit in with the other elements of the film. Now, the eight sections of The Science Behind Pixar will give visitors an insight into every stage of the technical process used by Pixar’s artists and computer scientists

The aim of the new exhibition is to peel away, layer by layer and in a way that is attractive for all audiences, the scientific, computer and mathematical concepts that lie behind our favourite Pixar characters. To do this, the exhibition is organised into eight sections, each of which explains in depth one specific step of Pixar’s technical process: Modelling, which allows characters to be created in 3D; Rigging, in which the virtual bones, muscles and joints are developed; design of Surfaces and Sets; Animation, which brings the story to life; Simulation, which provides automated movements; Lighting, which enhances the emotional impact, and Rendering, which turns 3D scenes into 2D images.

Throughout 815 square metres in CaixaForum Madrid, visitors will learn about all these steps that Pixar pays passionate attention to in order to bring its worlds and characters to life. Dozens of interactive and audiovisual elements will reveal what is hidden behind Pixar films, from the first-ever computer-animated feature film – Toy Story – which opened over two decades ago, to the release of Turning Red.

To better understand the science and maths that go into creating the worlds and characters of Pixar’s films, visitors will see audiovisuals and hear first-hand from members of the studios’ production teams. They will also be invited to experience different roles within the production pipeline, through screen-based activities and physical interactive elements.

In the Sets & Cameras section, for example, visitors will discover how camera placement and angles created a bug’s-eye view for A Bug’s Life; in Modelling, they will try their hand at creating a digital sculpture from an artist’s sketch and in Lighting they will use lights to solve challenges similar to ones Pixar faced in creating underwater scenes with virtual light in Finding Nemo. The exhibition route also includes human-size recreations of many Pixar film characters, such as Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story), Dory (Finding Nemo), Mike and Sulley (Monsters, Inc.), Edna Mode (The Incredibles) and WALL·E (from the film of the same name).

Throughout the months that the exhibition will remain at CaixaForum Madrid, the ”la Caixa” Foundation will be offering various activities to bring the art and science of Pixar closer to all audiences. In addition, the general public can take a guided tour and families can choose between the family tour and the animated stories workshop-tour, where visitors can make a short, animated clip to understand all the phases of the creative process after visiting the exhibition.

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Switzerland wins Eurovision song contest with non-binary singer

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Non-binary singer Nemo, winner of the Eurovision 2024
Singer Nemo performed ‘The Code’ for Switzerland | Photo: Alma Bengtsson

After the very last set of scores had come in, The Code, performed by rapper Neno, was announced as the clear champion of the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 with a points tally of 591 and a lead of 44 points. 

Croatia finished in second place with Rim Tim Tagi Dim by Baby Lasagna on 547 points. The other spot on the podium finish went to Ukraine, ending up in third place thanks to alyona alyona & Jerry Heil with their song Teresa & Maria, on 453 points.

Scores on the night were awarded in two stages, as is traditional at the Eurovision Song Contest. The first results to come in were from the juries, followed by the reveal of the public vote.

Once the initial points from 37 juries had come in, Switzerland already had secured the lead on the scoreboard with 365 points.

Nemo is the first nonbinary artist to win Eurovision.

“I’m mostly just really grateful for this experience and all the friends I’ve made along the way. This was one of the most queer representations we’ve seen at Eurovision which was amazing, I want to shout out all the other queer artists this year,” said the artist who was born in Biel, a small bilingual town in Switzerland.

Nemo’s triumph in Malmö is Switzerland’s third win at the Eurovision Song Contest to date, following victory by Lys Assia in 1956 and Céline Dion in 1988.

Switzerland first participated in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1956, winning the very first edition of the competition, which it also hosted. 

It has been a controversial year for the song contest festival launched in 1956. For weeks, the question of whether Israel should be allowed to compete or not while engaged in a military conflict in Gaza dominated the media surrounding the event and attracted pro-Palestine activists to the Swedish city of Malmö. Eden Golan, a 20-year old singer representing Israel, was booed during a dress rehearsal; It has been reported that she was confined to her hotel room, while in Malmo to perform at Eurovision, after a series of threats against the Israeli delegation. Hours before the grand final, on May 11th, Dutch rapper Joost Klein, who represented the Netherlands, was disqualified from Eurovision 2024 over what the organisers described as an “incident” involving a female member of the production crew.

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