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‘Toxic Shock’ and ‘The Zoo’ Emerge as Big Winners at 2022 TFS Film Fest

After two years of online screenings, the 2022 TFS Film Festival returned live this year in style – rolling out the red carpet at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.


“It’s so great to be here in person celebrating you, your films, and all you’ve achieved in the last two years, which has just been so unprecedented and so challenging,” TFS’s Emmy-winning President, Andrew Barnsley, told nominees during the evening awards ceremony.


President Andrew Barnsley on stage


“And to be able to do that this year at the TIFF Bell Lightbox for the first time is very, very special…When you think about this space, the films that have been screened here and who’s sat in these seats – and now the fact that we’re a part of it now – it’s pretty great.”


In total, 53 different student projects – including 33 short films, 11 documentaries, nine music videos and six commercials – were screened over the course of the day-long TFS Film Fest. Following a more than five-hour daytime screening, the event culminated in an evening awards ceremony during which trophies were handed out in 18 different categories.


In the end, two films walked away as the biggest winners of the night – Jamie Norrie’s Toxic Shock and Kyisha WilliamsThe Zoo, which not only shared the Best Picture honours, but also snagged an additional award each.


The Zoo


The Zoo, which also took home the award for Best Screenplay, is an 11-minute short that follows a mother named Magi as they attempt to repair their bond with their 12-year-old child, Kik, and partner, Anaelle, after two years of navigating the carceral system.


Kyisha Williams writer and director of The Zoo


In their acceptance speeches, Williams – who wrote, directed and co-produced The Zoo – dedicated their awards to “all the moms out there who are working so hard to make ends meet and to bring love and safety into this world.”


“This award is for all of the incarcerated women and trans people out there, and all of the incarcerated people, really, who are really misunderstood a lot of the time,” Williams said.


“I just want to say thank you for teaching me, thank you for letting me support you and amplify your voices.”


Toxic Shock


During her Best Picture and Best Editing acceptance speeches for Toxic Shock, Norrie thanked her “superstar” cast and crew for bringing her second-term script about a young woman who does everything she can to hide the evidence of her post-one-night-stand period stain to the big screen.


Jamie Norrie accepting award for Toxic Shock


“I came to TFS for editing, so writing really wasn’t part of the plan. But then I found myself coming up with fun ideas in script writing class, and suddenly we were making pitch packages, and then we were greenlit,” Norrie said of the nine-minute comedy short, for which she served as writer, director and editor.


“Toronto Film School has quite literally changed my life, and I’m so, so grateful and thankful to everyone at TFS – the faculty, the teachers, and the amazing friends that I made along the way, who I now get to make movies with.”


Best Director


The 2022 Best Director award went to Dimphy van Vilsteren for Outcast, a six-minute short about a teenage girl who feels alone and needs to summon the courage to take that first step and bond with people.



Van Vilsteren, who shot the film in her native Netherlands, thanked TFS for moulding her into a filmmaker during her studies.


“You taught me, in two years’ time, to make a movie, to make a documentary, to do everything – and I kind of want to have an applause for all the teachers that are involved here and who organized this for us,” she said.


“Secondly, as a director, you do have a vision, you do want to make a lot of things, but you can’t do it without other filmmakers – and that’s all of you in this room, all the nominees, all the filmmakers. We cannot do any of this without you.”


Best Producers


Sharing the award for Best Producer this year was Ana Maria Lopez Martinez and Mario Aguilera, co-producers of the mind-bending and visually stunning 10-minute short, Three of Swords.


Ana Maria Lopez Martinez and Mario Aguilera at TFS Film Awards


“I want to thank my cast and especially my crew who took on this ambitious project with me. It took a lot of work, a lot of preparation, a lot of planning. We wanted to make something special and something that would stand out, and I could not have done it without them,” Aguilera said.


“I love cinema with all of my heart – it is my biggest passion in the world and I dedicate this award to more ambitious projects. You can all do it: strive to be the best and you might just win an award.”


TFSO Best Canadian Film


For the first time this year, film submissions from Toronto Film School’s Online Video Production program were also screened at the TFS Film Fest, and awards given out in three different categories – most notably for Best Canadian Short Film.


Shelby Mitchell’s  Radio Bingo


In announcing the award’s inaugural winner, Steven Hoffner, the coordinator of the Video Production program, admitted he was “really moved” by the winning film – Shelby Mitchell’s  Radio Bingo.


“It’s films like these that make you go, ‘This is why we do this. This is why we’re here. These are the types of stories that we need to hear,’” he said, about the film, which chronicles Mitchell’s experience in the Indian Residential Day School system on the Akwesasne reserve and the Mohawk language that was stolen from her.

“It’s a story about a people taking back the language that belongs to them, that was unjustly taken away by our own very government. Who would have thought that the game of Bingo would have so much effect on helping people preserve such an important dialogue between people?”


In her acceptance speech, Mitchell thanked Hoffner for his steadfast belief in the project, and dedicated her award to her family, friends and neighbours back home at Akwesasne.


“I want to give a shout out to my community, because this story doesn’t belong to me – it belongs to Akwesasne; it belongs to the players, it belongs to everyone on my reserve,’ she said. “This is your story and I’m just so grateful that I got to tell it.”


Other Big Winners


The TFS Film Fest’s other big winners of the night were Ralph Pineda’s documentary, To Those We Left Behind, and Obi D’meano’s Walking the Grey, which also snagged two trophies each.


Ralph Pineda’s documentary, To Those We Left Behind


Pineda’s six-minute doc, which he dedicated to all his fellow international students, won for Best Documentary and Best Cinematography.


“I used to not like making documentaries…but lecture after lecture, I saw that you can actually make a voice for yourself being a documentarian,” he said.


“Making this film really, really meant a lot to me, because…I realized the whole secret to being a filmmaker is making from the heart.”


Obi D’meano and Alice Blondeau in Walking the Grey.


D’meano and Alice Blondeau both snagged acting awards for their turns as a quarreling couple in Walking the Grey.


“Honestly, this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life,” D’meano said of the film, which he also wrote and directed. “Thank you to my team. Alice, you were amazing – I couldn’t have acted this without you.”


The full list of winners from the 2022 TFS Film Festival is as follows:


Best Picture

Toxic ShockJamie Norrie


The ZooKyisha Williams


Best Director 

Dimphy van VilsterenOutcast


Best Producer

Ana Maria Lopez Martinez & Mario Aguilera – Three of Swords


Best Cinematography 

Ralph Pineda – To Those We Left Behind


Best Female Performance

Alice BlondeauWalking the Grey


Best Male Performance 

Obi D’meanoWalking the Grey


Best Screenplay

Kyisha WilliamsThe Zoo


Best Sound

Bongos – Justin Maradin

Best Film Editing 

Toxic ShockJamie Norrie


Best Production Design 

Three of Swords – Sam Grady


Best Documentary 

To Those We Left Behind – Ralph Pineda

Best Music Video 

The Mask – Shafigh Hadavi


Best Commercial 

Giorgio Armani | Stonger with YouOlayinka Jinmi-Ahisu


Best Canadian Short Film (TFSO)

Radio Bingo – Shelby Mitchell


Best International Short Film (TFSO) 

Sirius – Dominic Alexander


Best Music Video (TFSO) 

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger ­– Justin Riley


Best Graduating Video Game 

Rust Bucket ­– Graduating Class of Winter 2022


Best Motion Graphic Award 

Christopher Wakefield


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