The annual Breakthroughs Film Festival runs until June 20th, and it’s the only festival in Canada devoted to short films by emerging women and non-binary directors. 

For their 10th anniversary year, the programming is more ambitious than ever. Excited to celebrate with them, Shedoesthecity will co-present the screening of Egg Party, directed by Kersti Bryan, about women in their late-thirties grappling with infertility.    

Aashna Thakkar is the Lead Programmer at Breakthroughs and has watched over 100 short films since she came on board in October. The 2021 theme is Visible Invisible, which hits home for Aashna. “I am a fat woman of colour and it resonated with me so deeply. People with marginalized identities are often at the centre of so many conversations. Our identities are really debated, and often in a negative way. Unless you are a part of our groups, outside people might not understand our identities. So in a way, we are so highly visible and yet so invisible at the same time,” says Aashna, who was excited by the possibilities of how to explore the theme, and very much enjoyed selecting shorts that reflected as many angles as possible.  

Still from BLOORDALE BEACH, Directed by Beth Warrian

This year’s fest will screen 26 short films in five programs. Highlights include include Ain’t No Time For Women (Hot Docs 2021, Best Canadian Short Documentary) directed by Sarra El Abed about a group of women who gather at a Tunis hair salon on the eve of the 2019 presidential election, giving us an intimate look into Tunisia’s young democracy; Parkdale directed by award winning filmmaker Lisa Jackson which follows two sisters over the course of a night as they roam the streets of their rough neighbourhood trying to avoid another stay in foster care; I Do But I Don’t directed by Marlee Druker which explores weddings, marriage, and societal expectations with a look back on a  childhood that set up unattainable standards; We, The People directed by Nelie Diverlus which looks at an in-depth analysis of how lack of access to food, financial means, and other resources is affecting lower-income communities in Toronto – COVID-19 being a large factor; and Houseplant directed by Angie Lawrence, an animated short film paired with an original spoken word poem, exploring issues of disconnection, body, and gender identity. But all of the films look interesting

Still from WANTED: STRONG WOMAN, directed by Marilyn Cooke

Two of the programmes we’re most excited for include In The City, spotlighting films made in Toronto, and Best of BFF, which will look back at some of the most beloved films that have screened at the Festival in the past decade. 

For Aashna, seeing the incredible films that people have created, during such a difficult year, has been awe-inspiring. “COVID has stopped a lot of productions, but I think for emerging filmmakers it was an opportunity to be creative and be resourceful. A lot of these emerging filmmakers have really stepped up to the plate. So that’s what really excited me—to see people continuing to do the things they love despite all the terrible terrible stuff happening around us.”

We recommend you dive in and support this wonderful Festival that has been supporting so many emerging women and non-binary filmmakers for years. Without a doubt you will walk away inspired, be it to start a conversation or make your own short film. 

Single tickets to screening blocks are $5, with the online pass you get access to all the films available at BFF 2021 for $23. We’re excited to co-present the screening of Egg Party directed by Kersti Danger. Tune into a special Q&A with the director on Sunday June 20.  Head to the BFF site now to see full programming, schedules and to purchase tickets.