Skip to main content
Catalyst 2023 cohort headshot collage


Mentorship Program

Subscribe to Catalyst News

Image: 2023 Cohort

VIFF Catalyst is an intimate cohort-based program that provides 15 emerging and dedicated filmmakers with the tools to elevate their projects. Through a cohort-based approach, the program seeks to create peer-to-peer and peer-to-mentor conversations, and facilitate an environment free of barriers and hierarchies. Catalyst participants leave the program with a new network of collaborators and a stronger connection to the local film community.

Laura Arboleda headshot



As an alumni of the program myself, I know firsthand the confidence and opportunities Catalyst offers and the difference that makes for emerging filmmakers. Getting to learn with and from a cohort of diverse voices is invaluable.
Laura Arboleda (she/her), VIFF Catalyst Programmer

Presented by

Supported by


Inclusive Approach

The program actively seeks participants from underrepresented backgrounds, fostering a diverse and enriching peer mentorship environment.

Cohort Experience

Participants become part of a diverse cohort, enabling balanced and insightful discussions that contribute to each participant’s growth.

Dedicated Sessions

The program explores various aspects of filmmaking, including festival strategy, distribution, ethical filmmaking, and more, through roundtable discussions and case studies.

Financial Support

Selected participants receive a full festival pass and a professional stipend to help mitigate any financial barriers associated with attending the program.


The program is open to emerging filmmakers from across the lower mainland, with applications opening in late June every year. A selection committee reviews each application made up of program alumni, and 15 applicants are invited to join the cohort.

Meet Past Cohorts

Success Stories

Nisha Platzer

Debut feature film back home premiered at VIFF 2022

Rosie Choo Pidcock

CMF funding for series adaptation of short film

Natalie Murao

Short film Blue Garden selected for Telefilm Canada’s Not Short on Talent Program at Clermont-Ferrand 2023

Lukas Maier

Debut feature film Darkroom showcased at VIFF 2021

Giselle Miller

Selected for Reykjavik Talent Lab

Irina Lord

Released her debut feature Soft-Spoken Weepy Cult Child in 2022

Kunsang Kyirong

Selected for Talent to Watch for development of her first feature film

The cohort was made up of a great mix of people from different backgrounds both in life and filmmaking. This made the conversation feel really balanced, and I felt like we all brought something unique to the table

VIFF Catalyst reinvigorated my passion for film. Having the opportunity to talk to filmmakers and delve into the world of cinema and process and story is and was an opportunity I will forever be grateful for.

My one-on-one mentorship was one of the most useful 3 hours I’ve ever had in my filmmaking career. Getting the chance to talk to a director who is a couple steps ahead in their industry career was incredibly valuable. Not only was their advice relevant but it was a perspective of someone who was recently in my shoes.

There were certain aspects of the filmmaking process that I knew very little about at the beginning of the program, that I now feel like I have a much better handle on, and have connections made so that I can pursue my future goals in my filmmaking practice.