Velvet Underground New Home for Pendance Music

There could have been no home finer than The Velvet Underground. Pendance’s new Music Director Walter Noseworthy had visited and researched every concert venue in Toronto and when it came down to where he wanted to host the opening night concert to launch the Pendance Film Festival, it came down to Velvet Underground v.s nobody.

“It’s the perfect venue. Velvet has a rich history of hosting amazing musicians, a great atmosphere for an intimate concert, and it is located so close to the festival’s film screenings and workshops” said festival director Robert Misovic.

Who is coming to Pendance Music? Well, that’s a surprise. The scouting process to find the best artists to bring to Pendance’s first official concert started in August and everyone on the team internally seems optimistic that they’ll find 3-4 of Canada’s best musicians to headline the event.

Pendance Music takes place at 8:00 PM on February 20, 2020. Velvet Underground is located at 508 Queen Street West in the downtown Toronto core. Tickets should be on sale in January.

Eradicating Linguistic & Cultural Bias at North American Film Festivals

Asghar Farhadi at Berlinale as Iranian Cinema thrives.

This is an unspoken rule — not all languages are judged equally. As much as we’ve focused on representation and diversity on the lines of gender and race, we’ve often glossed over age, culture and language in our quest for an even playing field.

This has been our mission at the Pendance Film Festival — that a film be judged without consideration for the director’s age, gender, race, cultural background or the spoken languages in the film.

Film is an audio-visual medium, and it would be hard to argue that films in Farsi, Dutch, or Turkish are viewed by English-speaking programmers the same way that English language films are.

How does one judge an acting performance if half the attention is on the subtitles? This is specifically true for languages which aren’t rooted in Latin. Some languages simply don’t convert well to English— subtext and meaning is lost in translation.

North American film festivals may opt against an Albanian or Serbian film for a Spanish or French one of lesser merit citing demographics. This is rooted in the thinking that North American audiences tend to prefer not reading subtitles to begin with, and would be even less likely to do so in a language they’re completely unfamiliar with.

And as a festival that programmed a Dutch feature last year which had our lowest attendence among thirteen screening blocks, we’re not going to argue that it makes a lot of sense financially.

But if a film festival exists predominantly as a cultural event, it must be about more than dollars and cents.

Where would Iranian cinema be on the world stage without the Berlinale? If we merely reduce our concept of diversity to include race and gender, we’re missing the larger picture.

As an English-speaking filmmaker, I hardly realized this problem until we started the Pendance Film Festival in 2017.

Filmmakers from the Netherlands, Austria, Serbia, Greece, Turkey, the Middle East and South Asia have all referenced that they feel they face a significant disadvantage with international film festivals — and looking at the programming of most small-to-mid-sized North American Film Festivals, they certainly aren’t wrong.

Austrian Director Peter Brunner wins Best Director for ‘To the Night’


The Trickle-Down Effect

Some countries are severely underrepresented on the world stage and the trickle-down effect this has on the funding available to filmmakers in these countries is worth noting.

Major film festivals are hunting grounds for distributors searching for content, and if films from Uruguay, Poland, Sri Lanka, or Greece face a barrier to entry, then filmmakers from these countries face barriers to funding within their own countries because of it.

We urge film festival directors and programmers to re-think diversity. We believe the world is absolutely full of stories worth sharing. To know that a filmmaker in Sudan or Turkey can’t make their film in their native language because their governing bodies believes the film won’t find a place on the world stage is pathetic.

The world is bigger than North America and Western Europe. Large festivals like TIFF, Berlin and Cannes have broadened their horizons to give a serious platform to world cinema. It’s time for everyone else to do the same.

Pendance Library is Now Live

We’re so proud to announce that the Pendance Library is now live. Check it out here. We love the films we select so much and stand behind these films forever. As they go online or become available on streaming platforms, you can expect to see our library grow.

For now we start out with 15 films – 12 shorts available online and three features from our 2019 festival available on demand. Check out the link above, and check back each month as more titles become available!

Features: Age Out (Best Picture 2019), Anywhere With You and In Reality (Audience Award Winner 2019)

Shorts: Catastrophe, All These Creatures, A Handful of Dust, Space Girls, Jitters, Inland Freaks, Curfew, Botanica, Nightshade, Dog in the Woods, The Replacement, Fake News.


‘Age Out’ Available Now in Theatres and on ITunes

Age Out (formerly Friday’s Child) launched online on Google Play, ITunes and various other platforms on November, 22, 2019. After winning the Jury Award for Best Picture at Pendance 2019, a world premiere at SXSW and a great festival run, the film is finally getting some recognition ahead of its release. Reviews for the film have been overwhelmingly positive and we expect that audiences will truly enjoy this beautifully poetic Waco-Texas-shot work of cinema.

Check out the new trailer here, find the film for rent here, and if you’re really interested in finding out more, be sure to check out Producer Alan Elias’ Q&A at Pendance 2019.

Pendance Announces Short Film Jury for 2020

The Pendance Film Festival is proud to welcome eight wonderful additions to the Short Film Jury for 2020.

The Jury is comprised of Robyn Citizen (TIFF Short Cuts Programmer), Alexandra Mitchell (Austin Film Festival Programmer) and Pendance alums; Mauro Mueller, Myrsini Aristidou, Carlota Pereda, Marija Apcevska, Cam Be, and Clara Lezama.

Robyn Citizen is a film and media scholar on ethno-racial and national identity, and the horror and sci-fi genres. In 2018, she joined the programming teams for the Toronto International Film Festival and the Human Rights Film Festival. From 2012 to 2017 she was a lecturer in the Department of Asian Studies and the Department of Theatre and Film at the University of British Columbia. Recently, Citizen was a featured writer and panelist at the Emergence Symposium’s Black to the Future program, on the themes and cultural impact of Afrofuturism.

Mauro Mueller is an independent Swiss-Mexican narrative filmmaker and a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. He is best known for directing the short films A World for Raúl which won the Student Academy Award for 2013, Dear Chickens (which had its Canadian premiere at Pendance 2019) and producing the feature film Copenhagen, and the Mexican feature In Times of Rain. He co-founded Fidelio Films alongside Columbia University alums Mark Raso, David Figueroa García, and Mauricio Leiva-Cock in 2010.

Myrsini Aristidou is an award-winning filmmaker based between Paris and Cyprus. She graduated with an MFA in Film Directing from NYU Tisch School of the Arts in 2017, and holds a BFA in Film and History of Art from Pratt Institute in New York. Her short film Aria premiered at the the 74th Venice Film Festival, and continued to screen at Sundance. Her previous short film Semele premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015 and won the Berlinale Short Film Special Prize of the Generation Kplus International Jury.

Alexandra “Alex” Mitchell was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. After graduating from Washington University with a B.A. in Film & Media Studies, she made the trek down ‘south’ with the dream of working at Austin Film Festival. She made it! After serving as a Conference intern, Registration Director, and recently the Project Manager, Alex is honored to serve as the Shorts Programmer in the Film Department. When Alex is not watching films and reading up on the industry, she is eating brunch and playing board games.

Carlota Pereda is an award-winning Spanish director and screenwriter. She has worked on various television productions. She is known for directing Las Ninas Rubias (The Blonde Girls) in 2016 and Cerdita (Piggy) in 2018. Both films earned international acclaim, with the latter winning the Goya. Piggy won the Jury Award for Best Short Film at Pendance 2019.

Marija Apcevska is a Macedonian filmmaker. She graduated from the Academy of Dramatic Arts, Skopje. She continued her education at the New York Film Academy, LA, California with an MFA in filmmaking. Her short film Bardo premiered at Berlinale. Her short film Ambi was included in Cineuropa Shorts selection of Top Five European Shorts of 2017.


Cam Be studied at the New York Film Academy and Columbia College in Chicago. Cam has interviewed and documented iconic artists such as Maya Angelou, Lauryn Hill, Common, among others. He received an Emmy award as a producer for About Last Night in 2012. He’s best known for his feature-documentary The Exchange, and his short doc Where Flowers Bloom (2018).


Clara Lezama is a 25 year-old filmmaker from Montevideo, Uruguay. She graduated from Escuela de Cine del Uruguay in 2016 and has worked as a director, editor and AD. Her short film Emma won best short film at FIEC, the Festival Piriápolis de Película, and Pendance 2017. She participated in Cinemademare in 2017, and currently works for Cinemateca Uruguaya.


‘To The Night’ by Peter Brunner Makes its Canadian Premiere at Pendance 2019

Synopsis: Caleb Landry Jones (Get Out, Three Billboards) and Eleonore Hendricks star in Peter Brunner’s Psychological thriller. Set in New York, the film explores the dark mind of Norman (Jones), an installations artist, as he attempts to piece together his tormented past and the fire in which his parents died.

McKinnon and Hendricks give captivating supporting performances and Christos Haas is the best he’s ever been. The film is carried by Jones who perhaps gives the best acting performance of the year in this film.

‘To the Night’ ties together its dark protagonist with some of the most beautiful cinematography of the year in a film that will remain with you for days and weeks after viewing. Not since Martin Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver’ has a film taken such risks to get into the head of its complex protagonist.


Country: Austria, USA





‘In Reality’ by Ann Lupo Makes its Canadian Premiere at Pendance 2019


Synopsis: Despite boasting rich friendships and a creative job, young filmmaker Ann is consumed by the fantasy of finding true love. Just when she thinks she’s found it, she is friend-zoned and the disappointment of rejection shoots her down a deep rabbit hole of unrequited love. Looking for a way to climb out, Ann picks up a camera and sets her sights inward. She confronts multiple characters within her conscious, from a maniacal game show host to a glamorous cabaret performer, that guide her through her investigation of the relationship and her own neuroses. Blending docu-style interview with comedy, drama and hyperbolic fantasies, Ann creates an elaborate, eccentric world that manages to be as intensely relatable as it is one of a kind.


Country: USA




‘L’Amazone’ by Alexandra Naoum is an Official Selection


Naoum has quite a bit of experience both in front of and behind the camera over the past decade. She has acted in dozens of projects and began directing with her debut film ‘Laissez agir cinq minutes’ in 2010. This experience shows in her latest project L’Amazone, which is truly a brilliant exploration of one woman’s (Elie played by Naoum herself)personal battle with breast cancer.

This is not a typical film by any means, and it takes perspectives and turns in its delivery that other films attempting to tackle the same subject matter simply do not. Having screened Curfew, and spoken to Shawn about the challenges of directing and acting in the same project, I have a great deal of respect for anyone who tries it. But doing it well is something else entirely, and L’Amazone is true to tone, beautifully shot and acted, and an important story that I’m glad was told.


Synopsis: Elie, 30, lost her left breast fighting cancer and decided not to replace it. At a party, a random encounter with an ex-lover she thought she’d never see again forces her to confront doubts and insecurities regarding her new femininity.


Country: France