Erica Scharf has spent much of her career in documentary film and television. She is currently editing the documentary television show, The Shift, airing on Investigation Discovery.

Date Posted: 
2011-12-06 00:00

Blog Series:


I recently attended imagineNative where my film, Up Heartbreak Hill, had its Canadian premiere. The festival was amazing – it ran from Oct. 19 – 23 in Toronto and was a whirlwind of films, panels and networking opportunities. The festival kicked off with a screening of On the Ice and The Country of Wolves, which were both phenomenal. At the opening night party, I had the chance to chat with a number of Khoi-San filmmakers and artists, who were there as a part of the delegation representing South Africa’s indigenous community. It was fascinating to learn about their struggle for rights and recognition, and the role that the arts have played in that journey.

The next day, Up Heartbreak Hill screened to an audience that included community members, fellow filmmakers, industry professionals, and even a local high school class. The response was overwhelming and the questions posed during the Q&A were thoughtful and insightful. I was incredibly proud to have brought Thomas, Tamara, and Gabby’s stories to a wider audience. The screening not only helped generate excitement about the film’s upcoming broadcast premiere on POV but also resulted in invitations to screen at the LA Skins Fest and the inaugural Vancouver Indigenous Media Arts Festival. I attended a screening of Shirley Adams, a powerful and deeply affecting film by Khoi-San director Oliver Hermanus, as well as the Documentary Pitch Competition, which featured four finalists each of whom presented their idea to a panel of industry leaders. It was interesting not only to hear about their projects, which varied widely in both subject and format, but also extremely useful to listen to the panel members’ extensive feedback. After a great lunch with Vision Maker Media Executive Director Shirley Sneve, I attended the Funder/Buyer/Producer Micro Meetings, which were unbelievably beneficial. I had the opportunity to meet with representatives from a number of distribution companies and other outlets and discuss my film with them. The chance to make those contacts was invaluable. Other highlights included screenings of Samson and Delilah, Wapos Bay: Long Goodbyes, and The Creator’s Game, which was a timely film about the Iroquois Confederacy lacrosse team whose passports were denied by the UK en route to the 2010 games.

The indigenous arts community in Toronto is thriving; the numerous screenings and receptions afforded me the chance to meet many of my fellow filmmakers and hear about their varied backgrounds, experiences and stories.

Thanks to George, Shirley and the Vision Maker Media team for helping make the trip possible.

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