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MFA in Film

As a core member of Toronto’s vibrant film community, our Graduate Program offers in-depth instruction in four interrelating areas:

1. Expanded Documentary

Encompassing essay and vérité films, interactive and transmedia works, community and social justice docs, digital activism and autoethnography. Recent thesis docs include Xin Lin’s Upstream (Hotdocs 2023), Jharol Mendoza’s Nocturnal Tree, Leila Almawy’s Listed, Lizz Hodgon’s Each Brain, and Michael Miroshnik’s Puer Fungus.

2. Alternative Cinema

Embracing experimental and structural hybrids, hand-processing, future cinema and process methods, 16mm and AR/VR, installation and intermedia projects. Recent alternative thesis films include Kurt Walker’s I thought the world of you (TIFF 2023), Abdullah Qureshi’s Meela Jaloos, Leena Manimekalia’s Kites, Lokchi Lam’s Butch, Zachary Goldkind’s A sad, sad Ghost picking at the Hairs of Their Knuckles, Sandra Ignagni’s OTTU, Chris Chong’s Film in Fear, Beau Bridge’s She sings for the World, and Nora Rosenthal’s Nine Easy Dances.

3. Screenwriting

Recent thesis screenplays include Mary Lewis’s Butterfly Jump (optioned by Roger Frappier Films), James Dunnison’s Lipko Park, and television series like Laura Gladwell’s Slowpokes and Allison Koopman’s My husband’s wife.

4. Independent Fiction

Including new narrative, hybrid fiction, micro-budget cinema, new neo-realism, transmedia storytelling, amagic realism. Recent thesis fiction films include Sabrina Zhao’s A Collage Barbarous (Berlinade 2021), Salar Pashtoonyar’s Bad Omen (recipient of Student Film Academy Award), Pranay Noel’s Heightmarkers, Pooya Badkoobeh’s Based on a True Story, Don Bapst’s Doppelgänger, Maya Vukov’s Rachael and Tom and Drew Lint’s Place D’Armes.

Our faculty of award-winning filmmakers, theorists, screenwriters, curators, film historians and new media artists teach courses across a wide range of disciplines and methodologies, with particular specializations in new narrative, social change media, national cinemas, documentary, and transmedia platforms. Faculty maintain active careers as thinkers and makers internationally, and are recognized as leaders in Toronto’s dynamic cultural communities, serving on the boards of such organizations as Pleasure Dome, Vtape, the Toronto Arts Council, CFMDC, founding, contributing to and editing the film journals Public and CineAction, and premiering their films and new media works at such international festivals as TIFF, Berlin, Sundance, Hot Docs and Images. Several faculty members regularly provide content to broadcasters like the CBC or TVOntario.

Main faculty members who supervise MFA students are: Tereza Barta, Manfred Becker, Moussa Djigo, Barbara Evans, Caitlin Fisher, Laurence Green, John Greyson, Ali Kazimi, Brenda Longfellow, Janine Marchessault, Taien Ng-Chan, Ingrid Veninger and Michael Zryd.

Students commence their MFA with fall-term core courses, where they actively workshop thesis ideas in our three production studios, exploring a wide range of technologies and techniques (green screen, improv for the camera, 16mm hand processing, run ‘n gun agit-prop, long takes, junk culture collage, neo-realism). Hands-on electives in Screenwriting, Documentary Workshop, Process Cinema, Directing Actors and Hybrid Fiction are offered annually, while additional courses in Digital Activism or Art of Events may be offered every other year. Students are also encouraged to take graduate courses in our Studies stream, like Future Cinema, and consider courses offered throughout AMPD and York University. In addition, we offer annual intensive Summer Institutes on special themes, often in collaboration with our AMPD partners (Art History & Visual Culture, Dance, Design, Digital Media, Music, Theatre & Performance Studies, Visual Art).

Throughout the semester, up to a dozen half-day workshops are offered on practices as diverse as 16mm hand processing, editing in Avid Media Composer or Adobe Premiere, sound recording and design, music composition, digital cameras, blocking for the camera, colour grading etc.

Special Masterclasses with visiting artists and scholars (Deepa Mehta, Sarah Polley, Alanis Obamsawin) are held at Cinespace, a top-of-the-line multiple studios off-campus.

The Grad program often hosts a weekly screening and lecture series in a campus cinema. We have an ongoing partnership with Cinema Politica, to screen politically engaged films. campus cinema.

Learn More

The Graduate Program in Film at York is an exciting environment to pursue innovative, socially engaging, career-ready education. Contact our Graduate Program Assistant to learn more.