Stacey Donen, Film Programmer – Toronto

Stacey Donen programmed Canadian cinema at the Toronto International Film Festival for eight years. He has worked as Director of Programming for The Royal Cinema in Toronto, a programmer for Reel Canada, and Artistic Director of the Whistler Film Festival. In 2012 he joined with Ingrid Veninger to launch the 1KWAVE, Executive Producing five feature films each made for $1000. He recently began his involuntary new life as an at-home kindergarten teacher. In his spare time he sits behind his computer and works on his Greetings from Isolation project – a capsule collection of short Canadian isolation movies.

  1. Greetings from Isolation

What’s happening around us is unprecedented, momentous, and frankly hard to believe or understand. All around the world we find ourselves forcibly separated from one another. With our extraordinary new everyday routines, connecting with one another is more important than ever. Greetings from Isolation is a website collection of Canadian short films where I have invited a broad range of Canadian filmmakers to make short films to respond creatively and share our human experience of isolation under COVID-19.

There are currently thirty new films by Richard Fung, Gariné Torossian, Sadaf Foroughi, John Greyson, Celeste Koon, Larry Kent, Winston DeGiobbi, Barbara Sternberg, Ho Tam, Elizabeth Lazebnik, Ali Kazimi, Janine Fung, Valerie Buhagiar, Sarah Galea-Davis, Noël Mitrani, Jorge Lozano, and Ann Marie Fleming available to watch right now. And there are more than forty more films being made by filmmakers like Alan Zweig, Laura Bari, Peter Lynch, Christina Battle, Jeffrey St. Jules, André Turpin, Tiffany Hsiung, Matthew Rankin, Daniel Barrow, Igor Drljača, and Miryam Charles.

  1. Guy Maddin and Gimli Hospital

I snuck into the old Uptown backstage cinemas when I was younger and had no idea what I was going to see. It was Guy Maddin’s Tales from the Gimli Hospital. It changed forever my idea of film and Canadian film!

  1. Paper airplanes

For many days on end, my six year old only wanted to do origami. We looked at origami videos, origami books, online origami tutorials. She didn’t want to go for walks or even watch TV. She only wanted to do origami. Who thought origami would be a fun thing for young kids to do? I can tell you for parents it’s not. It’s really, really difficult. Really. I mean it.

  1. Recording the ordinary and Dziga Vertov

Dziga Vertov

I recently came across this quote from Dziga Vertov and it’s stayed in my mind:
“Our eye sees very poorly and very little – and so men conceived of the microscope in order to see invisible phenomena; and they discovered the telescope in order to see and explore distant, unknown worlds. The movie camera was invented in order to penetrate deeper into the visible world, to explore and record visual phenomena, so that we do not forget what happens and what the future must take into account.”

Jeanna Dielman, Chantal Akerman, dir., 1975

  1. Sour cherry pie

We live in a time of over-snacking. If I had to pick only one thing to over-snack on, it would obviously be sour cherry pie.