As part of the festivities this year at TIFF, handfuls of directors, writers and actors including Julie Delpy (My Zoe), Alma Har’el (Honey Boy) and Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) made their way to The Purman on King for some mingling and dinner.
Hosted by Canada Goose and IndieWire, the Through Her Lens dinner was inspired by the beauty of the outdoors with swirls of fresh asparagus fern hanging from the elevator, lining the walls of the space, and Canadian sheet moss clustered around candles. Modern centrepieces by Timberlost and an all-female string quartet welcomed emerging and veteran stars that spoke with enthusiasm and realism for filmmaking. The theme of the evening was TIFF’s newest initiative “Share Her Journey“, and Canada Goose has rallied for this, having supported women in film for over 25 years.
“Whether it’s behind the scenes or in front of the camera, we are honoured to make product that enables costume designers, producers, talent, makeup artists, directors, cinematographers and filmmakers to excel at their craft,” read the placeholder poised on the place setting for each guest.
Alma Har’el’s Honey Boy gut-clincher, which is based on Shia LaBoeuf’s own upbringing, made its TIFF debut this year. The film was previously acquired by Amazon for $5 million when it first premiered at Sundance in early 2019. It made quite the impression—just ask Sidewalk Hustle’s editor-in-chief Hawley Dunbar her take after seeing it at Sundance earlier this year.
Har’el was among good company in a room of talent here in Toronto, full of praise for efforts by females in film. Support for each other, for being in the room, for the grind and the outcome, for a celebration that came with carefully curated food and drinks? Not a bad Sunday evening. The honourary list also saw Kasi Lemmons, Unjoo Moon, Haifaa Al-Mansour, Sarah Gavron and Theresa Ikoko in attendance.
The day before we attended the Twitter #SheInspiresMe event which saw Jennifer Lopez along with Constance Wu, Lili Reinhart and Keke Palmer, and others talk about misconceptions and gender, hammering home that women can work with each other without feuding. A similar respect level could be seen at the Through Her Lens dinner—especially because telling stories that help get more stories told is important work.
“It was David Lynch who got me interested in filmmaking,” says writer-director Maya Vitkova-Kosev to Sidewalk Hustle. The Bulgarian-born filmmaker’s 2014 debut, Viktoria, was the first Bulgarion feature film to screen at Sundance. Viktoria won 10 awards.
“It was after I saw Wild at Heart and around the time the first Twin Peaks was coming out,” she says. “I was 12 and knew I wanted to tell stories like he [Lynch] was doing.”
The story is based on her own experiences and growing up. And it grabbed the attention of her now husband, a classical musician whom approached her following the screening to say that “he loved the silence in her film.”
One of the conversations we loved most from the night was with Julie Delpy, whose words around motherhood were endearing to take in—especially when presented with a ‘no bull’ attitude.
“When you go past the part of not fitting the mold that society wants you to fit, eventually, there is a beautiful thing in being a mother. Even as a creative woman, “Delpy tells us. “It’s also good to see that we all had [shit storm], similar journeys. And all this mixed with motherhood,” she adds, talking about the challenges that female filmmakers face. “Or whether to not be a mother…looking back though if I had known how much I’d love motherhood I would’ve had 20 [kids],” she says with complete seriousness. “It’s more important than any film, than anything. And I’ve never been pushed to be a mother,” she adds.
These type of gatherings really are helpful says Maya Vitkova-Kosev, and it is really about those “small connections” that may not pop up to be anything until months, years later.
Events like this help female talent connect and reflect.
“Things are changing and we can see this continuing,” she says.