MFA in Film: A Community of Cinema
As a core member of Toronto’s vibrant film community, our Graduate Program offers in-depth instruction in four interrelating areas:
1. Expanded Documentary: encompassing essay and vérité films, interactive and transmedia works, community and social justice docs, digital activism and autoethnography. Recent thesis docs include Polina Reif’s Eulogy for a Dead Sea, Alex Williams’ To leave without you, Lesley Chan’s The urge to run a lap, Fazila Atiqullo’s Red Bicycle, Lesley Johnson’s Moosehide Revolution, and Ingrid Veninger’s El Mundo o Nada.
2. Alternative Cinema: embracing experimental and structuralist hybrids, hand-processing, future cinema and process methods, 16mm and AR/VR, installation and intermedia projects. Recent alternative thesis films include Lina Rodriguez’ Aqui y Allá, Raghed Charabaty’s Of Sand and Gold, Atefeh Khademolreza’s Birthday, Sofia Bohdanowicz’ Point and Line to Plane.
3. Screenwriting: creating dynamic idioms for shorts, features, television and transmedia storytelling, from experimental narrative and naturalism to a full spectrum of genre scripts. Recent thesis screenplays include Mary Lewis Butterfly Jump, Adrian Murray’s Retrograde, and Josh Boles’ Where the Blood is.
4. Independent Fiction: including new narrative, hybrid fiction, micro-budget cinema, new neo-realism, transmedia storytelling, magic realism. Recent thesis fiction films include Antoine Bourges’ Fail to Appear, Susan Bayani’s Our House, Farhad Pakdel’s The Scent, Meelad Moaphi’s Worth, Alexa Hickox’ The 5%, and Adrien Benson’s Daffodils.
Our faculty of award-winning filmmakers, theorists, screenwriters, curators, film historians and new media artists teach courses across a wide range of disciplines and methodologies, with particular specializations in new narrative, social change media, national cinemas, documentary, and transmedia platforms. Faculty maintain active careers as thinkers and makers internationally, and are recognized as leaders in Toronto’s dynamic cultural communities, serving on the boards of such organizations as Pleasure Dome, Vtape, the Toronto Arts Council, CFMDC, founding, contributing to and editing the film journals Public and CineAction, and premiering their films and new media works at such international festivals as TIFF, Berlin, Sundance, Hot Docs and Images. Several faculty members regularly provide content to broadcasters like the CBC or TVOntario.
Recent and works in progress by full-time faculty include Brenda Longfellow’s Carceral Culture; Phil Hoffman whose legendary 16mm Film Farm celebrated its 25th anniversary;
Howard Wiseman story-edited experimental feature documentary My Dearest Sister by Kyoka Tsukamoto, with screenings at Festivals in London and Montreal; Laurence Green’s Gemini nominated documentary Alter Egos.
John Greyson’s transmedia project Murder in Passing, now being adapted into a feature-length hybrid opera film.
They bring this hands-on experience into their classrooms, providing impassioned instruction in the form and content of cinema’s possibilities.
Students commence their MFA with a fall-term core courses, where they actively workshop thesis ideas in our three production studios, exploring a wide range of technologies and techniques (green screen, improv for the camera, 16mm hand processing, run ‘n gun agit-prop, long takes, junk culture collage, neo-realism). Hands-on electives in Screenwriting, Documentary, Future Cinema, The Art of Event, Process Cinema and Hybrid Fiction are offered annually, while additional courses in Digital Activism and Directing Actors are offered every other year. Students are also encouraged to take graduate courses in our Studies stream, and consider courses offered throughout Fine Arts and York University. In addition, we offer annual intensive Summer Institutes on special themes, often in collaboration with our AMPD partners (Theatre, Visual Art, Music, Dance, Design, Digital Media).
A panel at Nat Taylor Cinema on the art and politics of film festival curation. Programmers from TIFF, HotDocs, Imaginative, Images, ReelAsian, Rendez Vous with Madness etc. discussed everything from how to get your film into a festival, to the tension between artistic ambition and film as commodity in festival curation today.
Throughout the semester, up to a dozen half-day workshops are offered on practices as diverse as 16mm hand processing, editing in Premiere and FCPX, sound recording, digital cameras, blocking for the camera, colour grading etc.
Special Masterclasses with visiting artists and scholars are held at Cinespace, a top-of-the-line multiple studios off-campus cinespace.com.
The Grad program hosts a weekly screening and lecture series in a campus cinema. We have an ongoing partnership with Cinema Politica, to screen politically engaged films.