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Regent Park Film Festival (Nov. 13th - 16th) Welcomes Everyone!

Ananya Ohri is the Executive Director of the Regent Park Film Festival (RPFF). She is an educator and filmmaker and holds a Master’s degree in Cinema and Media Studies from York University. In this interview, she shares how RPFF is different from other Toronto film festivals, and welcomes everyone to attend.
donna g: Some people may have the impression that Regent Park Film Festival (RPFF) is mainly for youth? Who attends RPFF?

ANANYA OHRI: Youth are very important to the festival, but we get people from all backgrounds and ages, and people from across the city attend. It’s a very welcoming event that offers excellent programming and a great film festival experience to everyone.
About 12 films from the 38 films at the festival this year are geared towards youth. We have our School Program that invites teachers for Grades 1-8 to bring their classes to the festival, and then we have our Saturday Morning Breakfast and a Movie that invites families with young kids.

The rest of the 26 films are for people of all ages. There are captivating documentaries like Blood Relative, wonderful fiction films like Mumbai Cha Raja. For those of us really interested in city building there is Check Check Poto, about inner city in France, or Playful City about culture jamming in Toronto.

donna g: RPFF has been around for 11 years, and seems to be growing each year. With so many film festivals in Toronto, what do you think makes RPFF festival so successful?

ANANYA: We strongly believe that people from all walks of life should have access to seeing and sharing great stories, and that the stories we see, hear and tell shape who we become. For this reason we are dedicated to bringing a diversity of stories to inner city communities, beginning with Regent Park.

The Regent Park Film Festival has been very lucky to carve out a very unique space for itself. It is Toronto’s only free, multi-cultural, film festival. There are so many wonderful film festivals in the city, and what we offer, that is different is that we bring these great stories on film, many of which circulate in these other festivals, to people who would otherwise never be able to see them. And we do it in a very down to earth way, – welcoming everyone to join in.

donna g: I have a couple of questions about your Opening Night: Arts, Escape, Action:
1. How many filmmakers are involved, and how were their films selected?

ANANYA: 10 films are being screened at our Opening Night. It’s a tradition at Opening Night that we show films by young filmmakers, honoring their voices, and giving them a platform. These films were selected by our community based, volunteer Programming Committee. The committee watched all the submitted films and picked the best ones. We are very happy to be able to feature three films from Regent Park in this year’s opening night.

2. The evening also includes a panel discussion with three well-respected Canadian filmmakers: Charles Officer, Alanis Obomsawin, and Anita Doron. RPFF must be very excited about this. How did RPF manage to get such incredible talented and busy filmmakers to attend the festival?

ANANYA: We just asked! The staff and the Board of Directors worked together to figure out and approach filmmakers, and because there is such a good buzz around the festival, and filmmakers are people that really get and support our vision - They said yes!

This year’s panel is on finding courage to tell difficult stories.

donna g: Besides film, RPFF also offers Workshops. What's on offer this year, and what's involved in the registration process?

ANANYA: This is the first time we are offering workshops during the festival. Some highlights include our collaboration with UforChange to host a workshop called Shaping Your Own Enterprise, for people looking to put their technical video and filmmaker skills to earn some money. We have a panel on Community Based Arts Practices, and a special screening of the amazing film on the power of spoken word, Louder Than A Bomb, with a youth based spoken word workshop to follow. People can register by going onto our website

donna g: RPFF recently had a fundraising night. Could you tell us more about the evening? For those of us who weren't able to attend, what did we miss out on? Are you still accepting donations?

ANANYA: Our annual fundraising screening helps us keep the festival free for everyone. The fundraiser this year began with a reception, where we were treated by two fantastic performances by local musician Freddy King, and the talented Regent Park dance troupe, the South Side Swag. The main feature of the evening was Sudz Sutherland’s and Jennifer Holness’ film Home Again. The night was a great success, and a huge thank you to everyone who came out!

Anyone who would like to support the film festival can make a donation through our website:

NOV. 13 - 16, 2013
416.599.RPFF (7733)

Find us on: #rpff


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