Toronto Film School alumnus Reeth Mazumder rang in 2020 in award-winning style this New Year’s Eve.
The 2019 Writing for Film & TV Diploma graduate received news on Dec. 31 that her short film You May Kiss the Bride had won a Women Filmmakers Award of Recognition from the Accolade Global Film Competition – for her, a sign of even better things to come in the decade ahead.
“Winning the Accolade Award for Women Filmmakers is a huge recognition for me…competing with equally talented, equally creative people from all around the world, and then winning a title amongst them, it’s so encouraging,” Mazumder said.
Established in 2003, the Accolade Global Film Competition is an “avant-garde worldwide competition” that has honoured the achievements of talented directors, producers, actors, creative teams and new media creators – including some future Oscar, Emmy and Telly winners among them – from more than 70 countries around the world.
Judged by Accolade’s in-house staff and committee of award-winning industry professionals, each of the competition’s thousands of annual entries are judged against a high standard of merit and scored accordingly.
Mazumder credits her time in Toronto Film School’s screenwriting program for helping her transform into the Accolade Award-winning female filmmaker she is today – noting that You May Kiss the Bride was just one of five film projects she completed over the course of her 18-month studies.
“When you come to film school, you have to give it so much, so that you can look back and see what you made out of it,” she said, noting that she left behind a career as a successful model and Bollywood actress in India to come to Toronto Film School to pursue her passion for filmmaking.
“When I moved here, joined Toronto Film School, and started working with different people from different countries and different cultures, the entire ball game changed for me. It was a great, great experience and journey, and – if I could – I would actually go back to school again and learn more.
“What you give is exactly what you get – and I was very serious about film school from day one, which is why I could do all the things I did…It’s been an inspiring journey for me. I learned there’s always something you can achieve if you really want it.”
With You May Kiss the Bride, the ever-ambitious Mazumder set out to tackle the theme of reincarnation through the lens of a present-day Canadian bride and groom’s jarring recollection of their tumultuous relationship from a past life circa the 1960s.
Mazumder both wrote and directed the 15-minute short, which garnered three nominations at the 2019 Toronto Film School Festival of Films – including Best Screenplay, Best Producer, and Best Production Design.
“When you write something and then you also get to direct that story, it’s your story – you give birth to it,” she explained.
“I’ve always been told I’m a visual writer, so when I write a script or a story, I imagine it on the screen, I see how it is happening. It makes a difference, definitely, when you can give birth to a subject.”
Given her close, personal relationship to each and every one of her projects, Mazumder said she’s equally careful in selecting the teams with which she chooses to bring her stories to life.
With You May Kiss the Bride, her behind-the-camera crew consisted almost entirely of fellow Toronto Film School students and alumni – including William Hoang as the film’s producer, Shakithyan Niranjan as director of photography, Aria Ashtiani as editor, Yuliya Kornienko as production designer, and Austin Roberts as first assistant director.
“From day one, I always wanted to involve people from the school…So when I was trying to put an entire crew together, for me it was really important to know that my team should have faith in the subject,” she said.
“There should be a connection between team and teamwork, so that when you create a project, you should already have thought about the fact that you have made it all together – and we had that…It really is a film by the school.”
Never one to rest on her laurels, Mazumder is already hard at work on her next project – the screenplay for a World War II-era feature film – in collaboration with a former CBC producer.
“I haven’t slept many nights – even this entire New Year, I was constantly trying to write, study, understand. It’s a great new project for me, it’s a great opportunity for me and I’m not going to let myself down,” she said.
“Winning the Accolade was definitely encouraging for me, especially knowing that I’m stepping into a new year as an award winner.”