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Mentorship Program

Image: 2021 Cohort

Embolden New Cinematic Voices

Catalyst provides participants with the tools and experiences they need to bring their projects to the next level.

Catalyst elevates Vancouver’s independent film community to the world stage. We select participants based on their demonstrated pursuit of creating boundary-pushing and ambitious moving image work. We especially encourage applications from those who may be underrepresented in the film industry, including filmmakers who are Indigenous, Black, people of colour, 2SLGBTQ+, women, low-income, neurodiverse, newcomers, and/or differently-abled.

Breaking down barriers and hierarchies, Catalyst is centered on participants meeting mentor artists and film professionals with a level of equality in a facilitated and intimate setting. Over the course of the festival, participants will have access to both group sessions and one-on-one meetings coordinated by our Catalyst Programmer. Selected participants will also receive a full festival pass and a professional stipend. The selected cohort will be comprised of a diversity of filmmaking experiences and perspectives in order to foster a rich peer mentorship environment. As we anticipate the majority of the sessions taking place in-person, applicants should be located in the Lower Mainland.


Applications to join the 2022 cohort open June 13th, 2022

Got Questions? Email Us. 


Applicants must:

  • Be 19-35 years old (as per our funders’ requirements) *
  • Be living in British Columbia and able to attend sessions in Vancouver
  • Have created and released at least one film, video, or moving-image project**
  • Be fully available from September 29-October 9, 2022 to participate in the program
  • Self-identify as an emerging filmmaker who describes their primary role in filmmaking as director or writer/director
  • Self-identify as facing institutional barriers within mainstream film industry and/or independent filmmaking communities

* Applicants over the age of 35 who have faced extensive barriers, are self-taught, or are starting a new career as a filmmaker will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

** We will consider applicants who are aspiring filmmakers but have not made moving image work due to barriers or limitations. These applications will also be considered on a case-by-case basis.

What is an "emerging filmmaker"?

For the purpose of this program, you may be:

  • In the early stages of your career in filmmaking, usually within the first few years
  • A self-taught and/or aspiring filmmaker
  • Enrolled in, or have recently graduated from, a related degree/diploma/training program
  • Demonstrating a commitment to devoting more time to your filmmaking practice
  • Demonstrating a desire to gain more skills, resources and influences to serve your filmmaking practice

Applicants will be asked to provide:

  • Links to samples of their moving image work
  • Their CV
  • Statements regarding what they hope to gain through their participation in the program
  • Answers to optional questions regarding the barriers the applicant may have faced and their thoughts on how to support emerging filmmakers. Please note that declining to answer optional questions will not affect the success of the application.

“I think the mentorship program has provided me with more practical tools on how to progress such as funding opportunities, distribution and festivals. It also demystified the festival experience and made me feel a lot more confident approaching people and talking about my own work.”

“I chose to attend to really immerse myself in the film industry in order to get a handle on what it meant to be a filmmaker. I came away feeling so much more knowledgeable and empowered to create films. This was an invaluable experience.”

“What a wild and wonderful ride! I’ve learned so much and [am] excited to keep doing my work and following the call to share stories representative of my communities.”

Past Sessions

  • Festival 101
    Cohort team building and festival orientation from current VIFF staff and past Catalyst alumni.
  • Directors
    Roundtable with directors of recently released first features.
  • Producers
    Roundtable with early-career producers.
  • Funders
    World café-style meetings with key representatives from funding organizations.
  • Equipment / Facilities
    Roundtable with representatives from key gear houses and artist-run centres.
  • Programmers / Festival Strategy
    Roundtable with programmers from international film festivals.
  • Distribution
    Roundtable with key representatives for Canadian short film distributors.
  • Case Studies
    Screening and discussion with Catalyst alumni filmmaker showcasing new work.