The red carpets have been rolled out. The world’s press has taken their place, mics on, hoping for a quote. Rows upon rows of photographers click-click-click, their camera flashes dazzling. The streets are filled to bursting with screaming fans.
TIFF has come again.
From September 8-18, Toronto plays host to the global film community as the Toronto International Film Festival showcases the latest achievements in the art of cinema.
This year, Toronto Film School is celebrating those achievements in a big way, as several alumni and faculty have their projects premiering at the festival.
Each day this week, we’ll feature a different film and highlight the stories of the TFS community who helped bring it to the big screen.
“Ten years ago, when I went to TFS, imagining that I would be part of a project that’s this important, and then also have it be this well-recognized, industry wise, it’s a dream come true,” exclaimed 2012 Film Production grad Danny Sedore.
“That’s the long and short of it; it’s a literal dream come true. Like, pinch me dude.”
Sedore worked as a Producer on Soft (previously announced as Pussy), a coming-of-age drama set in Toronto that tells the story of a trio of queer kids whose friendship is tested one summer as they confront some rough truths about the world.
“Soft is a love letter to the childhood that most queer kids don’t get to have,” described Sedore. “It’s this story of friendship between these kids on their summer of awakening. One is still in the closet, but it’s past the moment that most films like to linger on, which is the coming out moment.
“We wanted to give more dimension to the queer narrative; to show folks in a real way with an unapologetic, unfiltered, real story.”
Soft is written and directed by Joseph Amenta, a close friend and long-time collaborator of Sedore’s. The key to their partnership, says Sedore, is that they share a common mantra.
“We want to disrupt,” Sedore asserted. “We want to make things special, and different, and unique, and powerful, and highlight voices that are more often than not, ignored. We want to highlight unrepresented voices in the industry. Stories that haven’t been told a million times.”
The duo first worked together on a short film called Flood, also written and directed by Amenta. Sedore says they put everything they had into it and the hard work paid off. Flood made its premiere at TIFF and was sold to Frameline, a media arts non-profit based in San Francisco.
“And if you ever take a flight to Alaska, you can watch it on Alaska Airlines!” he chuckled.
While shooting Flood, Amenta had already begun writing a new script; one inspired by the legendary documentary, Paris is Burning.
“At the end of Paris is Burning, there’s this little boy,” described Sedore. “He looks way too young to be on the street or to have that charm. And Joey was like, ‘I want to make a movie about this kid’s life!’ So that’s where Soft came from.”
As the script came together, the team started working to secure funding. Because of Flood’s success, Sedore said they were able to access the Talent to Watch’s Festival Selection Stream and were ultimately awarded $125,000 toward Soft’s budget.
“It’s just enough to not make a movie,” laughed Sedore. “Like, that’s the truth of it. Just enough to be like, ‘I can’t do this; it’s impossible.’
“But we got the Arts Council funding, as well. So that really gave us our budget.”
Sedore is confident that Soft will be picked up for distribution, but said his hope is that they can make the film accessible. Not just for those “that can afford a Netflix subscription” or to buy tickets to see it on the big screen, but also for the people that the film is representing.
“I want to do community screenings. I want it showing at The 519, I want it up at Sprott House,” he said. “I want it to actually live up to the potential that we had when we dreamt this up. That’s what I hope.”
Having the exposure of a premiere at TIFF can allow the film to generate some early buzz and introduce this subject matter to a broader public.
What does Sedore hope audiences take away from the film?
This is where cool comes from.
“I’m a straight white guy. Folks that maybe come more from my background, my demographic, I want them to gain a deeper understanding of the depths of queer culture,” stated Sedore. “The fact that trans Black women have been the pioneers of culture in every facet. This is where cool comes from; it comes from the folks that are on the outskirts, who’ve been told, ‘Nah, you don’t belong’, and they have to make their own cool. And they don’t give a f**k! These are the people I love; the outsiders, the underdogs.”
“That’s what I hope people really see in this film. This is not your cookie cutter narrative; this is something special.”
For Soft showtimes and tickets, click here.