Announcing the 2019 Fall Higher Learning Season at TIFF Bell Lightbox


A key initiative of the Toronto International Film Festival is to mentor and advocate for emerging artists and creators. To this end, Higher Learning at TIFF organizes events that are intended to create a bridge to the film industry for current students and young creators. Our goal is to expose young people to a variety of possible career pathways in the creative industries, introduce them to established professionals who can share their experience, and create space where they can meet and learn from one another.

Events are free on a first-come, first-served basis. To inquire about availability and how to claim a ticket, please contact


Higher Learning at TIFF

Higher Learning: Make Well Meet-up
Wednesday, October 2, 6pm–8pm
This first event of the Fall Season is brought to you by the TIFF Community Initiatives and Higher Learning teams. As we enter the hustle and bustle of autumn, we invite you to take some time to practice self-care and self-compassion, to flex your creative muscles, and to meet some new friends. This drop-in workshop — facilitated by artist, activist, and educator Kat Singer — will explore collage-making and humour as important tools for honouring your emotions and promoting social justice.

Higher Learning: Akosua Adoma Owusu on the Art of Adaptation
Tuesday, October 8, 6pm–7:30pm
Compelled to explore “triple consciousness,” Ghanaian American filmmaker Akosua Adoma Owusu discusses her approach to adapting stories for her films, touching on her short On Monday of Last Week — based on a short story of the same name by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — and the folk tale that inspired Owusu’s 2013 short Kwaku Ananse.

Higher Learning: Master Class with Titles Designer Nina Saxon
Wednesday, October 23, 6pm–7:30pm
Legendary titles designer Nina Saxon (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) joins an audience of emerging creators and graphic designers to reflect on the evolution of opening titles in film and television, their impact on storytelling, and her career trajectory, which began in special effects animation on the Star Wars trilogy.

Higher Learning: The Making of a Heritage Minute
Tuesday, October 29, 6pm–8pm
Join Historica Canada producer Ryan Barnett and collaborators Tess Girard, Scooter Corkle, and Les Fraser for insight into the production of Heritage Minutes, including the processes of community consultation, historical research, and concept development. At the end of this presentation, there will be an opportunity to learn about Historica Canada’s upcoming request for proposals for Heritage Minutes and their selection process.

Higher Learning: Indie Toronto Film Curators
Tuesday, November 12, 6pm–7:30pm
This panel brings together film programmers who use their passion and knowledge to curate successful film series across the city. Join us to learn more about the inspiration and value of building community through these shared experiences, and about the types of collaboration that make these unique experiences possible.

Higher Learning: Screenwriters’ Meet-up in the Film Reference Library
Thursday, November 21, 5pm
This drop-in event is an opportunity for emerging writers to meet one another, to work on projects, and to browse scripts, books on screenwriting, press kits, and other film-related resources available in the Library.

Tickets: Higher Learning events are free and open to students, recent graduates, and emerging artists pursuing a career in the creative industries. To inquire about availability and how to claim a ticket, please contact or 416-599-8433 ext. 2044.

Venue: All events take place at TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King Street West. Please note that TIFF Bell Lightbox is an accessible venue.

Questions? Please reach out to if you have any questions about the information listed here. Consider signing up at to receive Higher Learning emails in order to stay up to date with upcoming events and access to tickets.


Filmmakers and Short-Film Programmes

Triple Consciousness: Films by Akosua Adoma Owusu
Monday, October 7, 7pm
This retrospective of short films by Ghanaian American filmmaker Akosua Adoma Owusu highlights the concept of “triple consciousness” that Owusu has explored throughout her intimate, immersive, playful, and at times shocking filmography. This concept reflects the collision of identities and diverse worlds experienced by African immigrants in the United States. Traversing avant-garde cinema, fine art, and African storytelling traditions, Owusu’s documentary essays and experimental films incorporate a wide range of source material — from archival footage and staged embodiments to animated textiles and remixed soundscapes — to examine the intersections and constructions of Blackness, feminist subjectivity, queer aesthetics, displacement, and Afrofuturism.

Co-presented with the University of Toronto. Owusu will join us for a conversation following the screening.

Five @ 50: An Intimate Look at Contemporary LGBTQ2+ Lives and Identities
Tuesday, November 12, 7:30pm
Fifty years after the passing of Bill C-150, which partially decriminalized homosexuality in Canada, this world premiere event presents short films by five acclaimed Canadian artists — Michèle Pearson Clarke, Thirza Cuthand, Tiffany Hsiung, Vivek Shraya, and Michael V. Smith — who share their unique reflections on LGBTQ2+ lives and identities today. The screening will be followed by a discussion with the filmmakers.

Five @ 50 is produced by Justine Pimlott at the National Film Board of Canada, and executive producer Anita Lee.