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TIFF 2019: 5 Ryerson grads debut films in star-studded Toronto festival

One-on-one with director Thea Hollatz and more on Ryerson’s TIFF talents
By: Lindsey Craig
September 06, 2019
Animation of woman looking in bathroom mirror

In Hot Flash, directed by Ryerson University grad Thea Hollatz, a female newscaster experiences the joys of menopause on live television. Hot Flash premières at TIFF in the Short Cuts programme on Sept. 10, 2019. Photo provided by Thea Hollatz.

The ineffectiveness of a rotating fan is what sparked Thea Hollatz’s TIFF film, Hot Flash.

“I was inspired by the tedium of an oscillating fan – I love how ineffective they can be,” said the 2014 Ryerson University School of Image Arts graduate.  

“From there it became about the person in most need of cooling down – and a menopausal woman trapped indoors during a snowstorm was too ironic to pass up,” explained Hollatz, whose film premières at the star-studded Toronto festival Sept. 10.

Ryerson grads in TIFF spotlight

Hollatz is one of five Ryerson graduates with films debuting at TIFF this year. Others include:

  • Nicole Dorsey, Black Conflux
  • Annie MacDonnell, The Book of Hours
  • Kire Paputts, The Last Porno Show
  • Kazik Radwanski, Anne at 13,000 Feet

In addition, Brandon Cronenberg, who attended Ryerson, is also premiering his film, Please Speak Continuously and Describe Your Experiences As They Come To You.

Below, learn more about Hot Flash in a one-on-one with Hollatz. Plus, scroll down to learn more about these other TIFF films and the Ryerson alumni behind them.

One-on-One with Thea Hollatz, director of Hot Flash

Ryerson Today: What’s Hot Flash about?

Hollatz: Hot Flash is about a weather woman in the throes of menopause during a snowstorm who is about to go live on local television. She is quietly battling hot flashes while coping with her frustrating job and colleagues.  

Ryerson Today: How are audiences reacting to the film?

Hollatz: People respond positively to the story, men and women alike. There is a special enthusiasm-slash-commiseration from middle-aged women.  

Ryerson Today:  What inspired you to create a film about menopause?

Hollatz: I was inspired by the tedium of an oscillating fan — I love how ineffective they can be. From there it became about the person in most need of cooling down, and a menopausal woman trapped indoors during a snowstorm was too ironic to pass up.

Ryerson Today: Describe the moment you learned your film would be featured in TIFF.

Hollatz: It was super exciting! At that point we hadn’t finished the score and had submitted without any polished sound aside from the dialogue, so I’m very grateful to the Short Cuts programmers for having a sense of imagination about what the finished product might be!

Ryerson Today:  Talk about the importance of women having the opportunity to take on more leadership roles in film.

Hollatz: I’m not an authority by any means, but I imagine that a proportional representation of women, and all other groups, in positions of leadership now will stimulate a new wave of filmmakers later. I’ve certainly benefited from seeing other women succeed. Seeing yourself in other people is a powerful counter to the limitations you impose on yourself.

I do think that men can accurately write films about women, and do those characters justice.  Historically it hasn’t happened a lot, but I don’t think we should discourage men from writing stories about the women they know, and we should certainly consider women capable of the reverse. It’s really about vetting those scripts for inaccuracies before they make it to production, I think.  

Ryerson Today:  Are any other Ryerson grads involved in your film production?

Hollatz: Kristy Neville, my wonderful producer!

Ryerson Today:  You created Hot Flash while juggling other projects. Talk about what that was like.

Hollatz: I’m a production designer for film and commercial, so Hot Flash was most definitely a passion project. A feature I designed last summer called The Rest Of Us, directed by Aisling Chin-Yee, is also premiering at TIFF.  I was able to write and direct Hot Flash in between design jobs thanks to Tinman Creative who did all of the beautiful animation.

Ryerson Today:  What are you most proud of in the making of this film?
Hollatz: I’m proud of making it at all, honestly!

Below, learn about the work of other Ryerson filmmakers debuting their work at TIFF 2019:

Black Conflux, Nicole Dorsey

Black Conflux, directed by Nicole Dorsey (Ryerson School of Image Arts 2009), explores the vulnerability that exists between youth and deviancy. The film premières Sept. 6.

Instagram: @blackconfluxfilm, external link
Facebook: @blackconfluxfilm, external link

Book of Hours, Annie MacDonnell

Film still from the movie Book of Hours

Image from the film, Book of Hours. Photo provided by Annie MacDonnell.

On Sept. 9, Annie MacDonnell’s Book of Hours premières within a medley of five film debuts.

Incorporating diaristic home movies, re-photographed images and clips from Yvonne Rainer’s Lives of Performers, Book of Hours weaves together a play of gestures and patterns, in which quiet moments in a family home become a site of formal and intellectual experimentation. The production is an eight minute experimental/art film produced with support from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.

MacDonnell teaches at Ryerson University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2000. Learn more about MacDonnell’s work and practice, external link.

The Last Porno Show, Kire Paputts

In The Last Porno Show by Kire Paputts (Ryerson School of Image Arts 2009), a man inherits his estranged father’s prized possession – a derelict porno theatre. The Last Porno Show premières Sept. 10 at TIFF.

Instagram: @kpaputts, external link, @tlpsfilm, external link   
Twitter: @kpaputts, external link, @tlpsfilm, external link

Anne at 13,000 Feet, Kazik Radwanski

Woman standing in a field with windblown hair on her face

In Anne at 13,000 Feet, a 27-year-old woman works at a Toronto daycare but is more interested in fantasizing about life than supervising the children. Photo credit: TIFF.

Radwanski’s film, which debuts Sept. 9, is already receiving critical praise, external link. His film centres around a woman named Anne, described as “a volatile young woman challenged by everyday social and professional encounters”. A 2008 graduate of Ryerson’s School of Image Arts, Radwanski is also known for films Tower (2012) and How Heavy This Hammer (2015), both of which played at TIFF.

Instagram: @kazikradwanski, external link
Twitter: @redvineskik, external link

Please Speak Continuously and Describe Your Experiences As They Come To You, Brandon Cronenberg

In Brandon Cronenberg's psychedelically retro thriller, a psychiatric patient with a brain implant that allows her to relive her dreams finds her reality being encroached upon in unappetizing and surreal ways.  Cronenberg won Best Canadian First Feature at the Festival for his film Antiviral in 2012.

Twitter: @BMCronenberg, external link

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