RTA Takes on the 2021 TIFF Next Wave Festival (featuring Natalie Paton)

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of virtually attending the TIFF Next Wave film festival. Along with my peers under the age of 25, I got to see a bunch of movies and attend workshops for free. 

Ryerson was well represented at the festival, including a short film by RTA’s very own Natalie Paton. Now in second year, Paton’s Kaudo (The Gift) was filled with RTA-student names in the credits. I was lucky to have a chat with Natalie, available later in this article!

Animated shorts Prey and Coping were very well done. Despite my RTA bias, Natalie’s Kaudo was definitely a stand out as well. The performances and tenderness of the film provided an interesting slice of life for a Persian family during a Canadian Christmas.


One of the most unique feature selections was Olivia Peace’s Tahara.

Alongside other helpful resources for filmmakers, Peace gave their advice in a workshop on day two of the festival. The organizations at the workshop are also available in a post by The Future of Film Showcase

Other feature standouts for me included Death of Nintendo, set in the Philippines in the 1990s, and Cocoon, a Céline Sciamma-esque tale by German filmmaker Leonie Krippendorff.

While reeling from my weekend of film viewing, I got to hear about Natalie’s experience having Kaudo screened at such a unique festival.


What inspired you to make Kaudo?


Natalie: Kaudo‘s story grew out of my own experiences at a predominantly immigrant and Christian elementary school in Toronto, seeing and experiencing the cultural and materialistic pressures Christmas would place on immigrant families, whether they celebrated Christmas or not. Coming from a partly-immigrant and partly-Middle Eastern family, I wanted to show a positive representation of ME families living in Toronto and in the West. 

Moving across the world to start a new life is a scary experience, but is also an opportunity to forge new connections between your family, your new home, and your first home. Being able to reconnect with your culture, especially when you immigrated as a young child, as I did, is a really significant experience and I wanted to showcase that feeling. 


When we’re kids we care a lot about fitting in; as we grow up finding your place in the world becomes a more internalized and personal process. Kaudo is about an Iranian family, and there is a huge Iranian community in Toronto with their own theatre scene, and I was very lucky to get to work with some wonderful actors. A shoutout goes to fellow Ryerson students Nika Jalali and Arghavan Mokabberi for being excited about Kaudo since day 1 and volunteering their time. This film isn’t possible without them.


Did RTA help you get to this point?


Absolutely! Myself included, 12 RTA students worked on this project and we were lucky to be able to connect through RTA Jobs and Opportunities and have access to additional project funding through RCDS. Several faculty members were also super helpful and open to giving feedback during the pre-production process, which definitely saved me from falling on my face a few times. I hadn’t initially planned to make a short film while in first year but once I started classes in September I felt really inspired by the creativity and enthusiasm of our peers and how collaborative RTA is as a whole.


Do you have any exciting projects coming up?


I’m really excited to be writing and co-producing a short film directed by Parnika Raj and produced by Deanna Krueger, in collaboration with several other members of the RTA fam. We’re currently raising funding and planning to shoot in April.

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