Festival Reports

47th Toronto International Film Festival

Mrudula Thursday October 13, 2022

Jub Clerc Director Headshot  

The NETPAC Award Jury for the 47th annual Toronto International Film Festival consisted of two members who worked online throughout the festival’s September 8-18, 2022, run: movie producer, mediamaking mentor, and Bastau International Film Festival Director Diana Ashimova (Kazakhstan), and cinema studies scholar Ida Yoshinaga (Hawai‘i/Atlanta, Georgia) who served as jury chair. 

In recent decades, TIFF has undoubtedly come to represent one of the most industry-driven festivals in the world, with diversely themed sections and a huge audience. NETPAC’s candidates for consideration were drawn from two of TIFF’s more international programs, “Contemporary World Cinema” and “Discovery,” selected largely based on the cultural and/or ethnic backgrounds of the nominated directors reflecting an individual Asian or Pacific origin. 

The 14 scripted films under consideration were from Palestine, New Zealand, Iran, Indonesia, Japan, Turkey, Australia, Syria, Canada, Israel, and Cambodia, including two co-productions with Britain and France and at least three Indigenous Pasifika-made projects. 

The films eligible for the NETPAC prize were as follows: 

  • A Gaza weekend by Basil Khalil, Alam (The flag) by Firas Khoury
  • Autobiography by Makbul Mubarak
  • Beyond the wall by Vahid Jalivand
  • Muru by Tearepa Kahi
  • Plan 75 by Chie Hayakawa
  • Snow and the bear by Selcen Ergun
  • Sweet as by Jub Clerc
  • The taste of apples is red by Ehab Tarabieh
  • Valeria is getting married by Michal Vinik
  • Return to Seoul by Davy Chou
  • We are still here by Beck Cole, Danielle MacLean, Dena Curtis, Tim Worrall, Richard Curtis, Miki Magasiva, Mario Gaoa, Chantelle Burgoyne, Tracey Rigney, and Renae Maihi
  • This place by V.T. Nayani, and
  • Zwigato by Nandita Das. 

This wide-ranging program was dynamic and intensive—with cinematic tales from first-, second-, and third-time feature directors touching upon such deep and complicated social, economic, and political issues as the COVID-19 era, Indigenous resistance to colonization and related adaptation efforts, life in occupied or embattled territories, family and peer-youth relationships, micro and macro histories of place, the struggle for various self-identities, exploring various people’s roots/rebellions, and communities’ survival and violence.

Many films were really brave, sharp, experimental, ambitious, humorous, and quite innovative, demonstrating a high level of technical excellence. Solid cinematic talent was evident, with many scenes shot in breathtaking locations as the ideal background against which to feature a great cast in convincing performances. Most candidates exhibited strong narration, so the real treasure of TIFF was our pleasing audio-visual experience of discovering the problems of people who live so far from our parts of the world. 

Of the above 14 movies, the NETPAC TIFF Jury unanimously decided to award a debut film, SWEET AS, by Jub Clerc (Australia), with the following citation:

“A model road film with great locations and a strong cast that convincingly tells the story of an Indigenous girl on a youth-therapy bus tour dealing with family, friendship, inspiration, and self-identity.”

The unpretentiously focused, confident film presented deep content through a well-edited and technically gorgeous story bolstered by engaging performances that felt natural and unforced. Clerc’s creative approach to fictionalizing her own life experience took viewers along on this youth group's journey with a good sense of humorwhile also depicting the real pain of growing up in unsafe families or communities. We found it a masterful first feature for an assured visual auteur with superb storytelling instincts.

We were also happy to recognize this outstanding (and Aboriginal themed) coming-of-age film as one of several Indigenous-director-helmed entries including the dazzling multi-protagonist, multi-genre feature, We are still here. Ten Native directors from different regions colonized by the United Kingdom (including Samoa, Australia, and New Zealand) inventively recalled the past, interrogated the present, and envisioned the future, of the 250-year legacy of Captain James Cook’s arrival in their lands, in this delightfully intertwined anthology. We also enjoyed Muru, a “Black Lives Matter”-era cop thriller directed by Tearepa Kahi (Aotearoa) that blended resistance history with thrilling action sequences, as his story pitted Native Māori community policing against British Commonwealth settler-colonial policing.

Also worth mentioning was the noticeable presence of gifted female filmmakers whose works earned our admiration—beyond Clerc and 6 out of We are still here’s 10 co-directors, women’s cinematic vision characterized an additional 5 of the 14 narratives we considered for TIFF’s NETPAC award. Impressive female-directed entries were Chie Hayakawa’s science-fictional critique of ageism, Plan 75 (Japan); Selcen Ergun’s fairytale-like murder mystery Snow and the bear (Turkey); Michal Vinik’s feminist sisterhood melodrama Valeria is getting married (Israel); V.T. Nayani’s multiracial/transnational lesbian romance This place (Canada); and Nandita Das’s class-conscious satire set in the gig economy, Zwigato (India).

Special thanks go to writer, editor, and expert film curator Aaditya Aggarwal, coordinator of TIFF programming, who facilitated our jury’s decision-making process. 


Report co-authored by

Ida Yoshinaga (USA/Hawaii)

Diana Ashimova (Kazakhstan) 





Supriya Suri's Interview with Muhiddin Muzaffar

Director Muhiddin Muzaffar (1) 2 Min

1. I entered the cinema through the theatre. I was an actor in our local theatre called Kanibadam, named after Tuhfa Fozilova. After working for five years, I decided to do a theatre director course. I graduated with honors and became a director. We successfully staged performances at international festivals.


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