Toronto APRIL/MAY 17-32_Layout 1 2016-04-04 9:58 AM Page 18
Filmmaker duo puts Vaughan in the spotlight By Erica Cupido ike any memorable movie duo, Mark Pagliaroli and Antonio Ienco each have distinct, complementary roles in their work. “If you meet us both, we’re yin and yang,” says Ienco, 30, one of the co-founders of the Vaughan Film Festival. “I’m definitely the more vocal one.” His partner, Pagliaroli, 30, agrees. “He’s much bolder than I am. I’m more conservative, but there’s a good balance between us.” Together, they put on the Vaughan Film Festival, which kicks off its fourth annual event on May 16. The four-day festival includes screenings of short films by students and experienced directors, an industry seminar, and after-parties where individuals might meet a mentor or find out more about a film. Submissions come from all genres – so on any day viewers might catch the latest documentary, sci-fi or animated short film – and are 20 minutes or less. It wraps up with an awards show, which recognizes actors and filmmakers from around the world. What began in 2013 as a place for local directors and artists to showcase their work is now an internationally known film festival. Flashpoint actress Amy Jo Johnson has had her work as a director screened in Vaughan in the past, and this year she joins the judging panel. Entertainment Tonight Canada’s Rick Campanelli hosted last year’s awards show, where The Hateful Eight actor Michael Madsen was honoured. Even former Desperate Housewives actress Eva Longoria sent Ienco and Pagliaroli a video message thanking them for including a film she produced in the fest. “It’s a really tough industry in general,” says Pagliaroli, “so getting recognition from professionals who have done it for so many years, [lets you know] that you’re doing something right.” Both Ienco and Pagliaroli know their way around a movie set. The pair – who both attended Father Bressani Catholic High School in Woodbridge – became friends after Ienco auditioned for a role in an independent film Pagliaroli was directing. They worked together for more than a decade, and slowly, Ienco became increasingly fascinated with working behind the camera. In 2010, they travelled to film festivals across North America to promote the first feature film they co-directed, The Invaders: Genesis. It was distributed in the U.S. and Japan. “We saw how many people came together to make a feature film with a shoestring budget,” says Ienco. “That’s what inspired us to find a platform to recognize their talent, as
opposed to only putting their name in the end credits.” Since its their inaugural event in 2013, the Vaughan Film Festival has received nearly double the number of submissions each year. Despite having featured short films from Germany and Luxembourg in the past, Ienco and Pagliaroli – whose Italian relatives are from Calabria and Lazio, respectively – are excited to have Italian films submitted for the first time in 2016. Ienco describes himself as a shy child, but says that his love of performing was evident early on. Growing up in a large, half-Italian, half-Greek family, he was encouraged to “be yourself, be vocal, say what’s on your mind and follow your dreams.” His first fans were the many relatives he’d perform for at family functions like communions and confirmations. “Performing was a way for me to express myself,” he says. As he grew older, he found plenty of inspiration for comedy at home. For Pagliaroli, taking drama class in high school helped him come out of his shell. Today, the values his parents instilled in him years ago are still top of mind. “They taught me good business ethics, in the sense of respecting the people you work with and how you present yourself. I still take that to heart every day.” For these partners, investing in the community’s future filmmakers is a large part of their vision for the Vaughan Film Festival. Ienco and Pagliaroli accept submissions from high school students across Ontario and have been invited to speak at local schools to encourage young directors, writers and actors to get involved. “We go into classrooms and ask who’s heard of the Vaughan Film Festival,” says Pagliaroli, “and every year more and more hands go up.” Both men grew up with family members, friends and teachers who encouraged them to pursue a career in the arts, and now they’re paying it forward. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” says Ienco. “We let students know that if you are a filmmaker, someone who likes to write short stories, or you want to get into acting, there’s an opportunity for you. You don’t even have to leave the city you live in to do it.” The Vaughan Film Festival gives today’s budding directors experience that Ienco and Pagliaroli would’ve loved to have at the start of their careers. That’s why when people ask them, “Why Vaughan?” Their response is, “Why not?”
yourself, be vocal, say “ be what’s on your mind and
follow your dreams.
Photos by Giulio Murator
Mark Pagliaroli and Antonio Ienco