To the tune of a melodic cinematic electronica soundscape, ’Starting Out’ offers a visual exploration of displacement with a vintage aesthetic and a cosmic vibe — a grappling with forced migration and its ripple effects in space and time. An experimental short film produced as part of the i am… Project, led by Toronto Metropolitan University in collaboration with TIFF.
Identity is intrinsically biased, a subjective mix of colonial ideologies of race, skin colour, and ethnicity that serve to enslave, subjugate, and disenfranchise individuals or groups along racial lines. Throughout our lives, how we are identified, individually or as a group, impedes or advances access and opportunity. Yet, identity is foundational in nurturing a sense of self, belonging, and culture, serving as a point of reference towards (mis)understanding the world around us locally and globally.
On the 50th anniversary of Canada’s Multiculturalism Act, the Canadian Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration, Anna Triandafyllidou, and award-winning filmmaker Cyrus Sundar Singh set out to better understand the legacy of that idealism and measure the sense of belonging to a Canadian identity today, particularly within the context of the Black Lives Matter movement and resistance to settler colonialism. Thus the 𝙞 𝗮𝗺… Digital Storytelling 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗷𝗲𝗰𝘁 was born, a collaboration between Toronto Metropolitan University and the Toronto International Film Festival.
Really grateful to have been among the 28 graduate students from across Canada selected to produce a three-minute short film exploring our sense of identity and (non)belonging. It honestly meant a lot to be invited to convey my story with a group of such unique, talented people! I was also happy to collaborate with friends old and new, from the writing to the post-production of my piece.
Visually, ‘Starting Out’ features the gorgeous work of Toronto-based Italo-French-Canadian Ariane Laezza, Director of ‘Stardust Academy’ and Creative Producer behind such brands as The Rebel Mama and That Nonna Life. Special thanks goes out to London-based British-Iranian artist Cyrus Shahrad, aka Hiatus, who featured the track Turbine from his hauntingly beautiful, critically-acclaimed 2010 debut album Ghost Notes.