By AMARACHI AMADIKE, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Pegasus Community Project is hosting its first film festival for people in the disability community since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
On Saturday, Oct. 22, the Pegasus Incredible Film Festival (PIFF) returns with a showcase of 12 films created by its members in collaboration with filmmakers from the disability community and volunteer film students.
The festival takes place at Innis Town Hall Theatre, 2 Sussex Ave. in Toronto.
After drawing inspiration from Halifax’s The Bluenose Ability Arts & Film Festival (BAAFF) and Toronto’s The Reel Abilities Film Festival (RAFF), the Pegasus organization put together its own film festival to provide an outlet for participants to tell their stories.
Their first offering was a six-film project in 2017, created with help from film students across the GTA. These films were then showcased at a fundraising event in a Toronto cinema. Since then, after a call-out to other organizations in the developmental services, PIFF has slowly grown in size with this year marking its biggest collection of films so far.
“There are eight different organizations involved and one independent filmmaker,” said PIFF Coordinator Tess Murray.
She explained that the purpose of PIFF is to “engage adults in the disability community” so the festival isn’t reserved only for Pegasus members. Although participants get help putting the projects together from volunteer filmmakers, they have full artistic freedom.
This year’s festival is the first one since 2019 so a few submissions are films that were created prior or during the pandemic. Some, according to Murray, were even made over online video communication software, Zoom. The festival line up has a wide range of genres including horrors, comedies and even a music video.
The films are about two to five minutes long. Proceeds from the festival, according to the website, will be reinvested into the festival’s growth as well as into purchasing more equipment to further expand the reach in order to bring this opportunity to more people with stories to tell.
“We’re hoping to grow and reach out to even more organizations and individuals and just make it a space and festival where people who are part of the disability community feel included and to have this open up, even more, to the public,” said Murray.
She anticipates growth in the festival that could see it expand to multiple days of screening in the future.
“Right now, it’s just one day–two screenings,” she said. “I would definitely be interested in broadening our audience.”
More information on PIFF can be found at https://www.pifftoronto.ca/
Tickets are $15 but anyone who cannot make it in person can still view it through a virtual screening for $10. Tickets for the screenings can be purchased at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/pegasus-incredible-film-festival-tickets-425703208757
“What I’m really excited about is the variety [of films] and how they’re all so different,” said Murray.
“It’s really exciting and I think that, for participants and the community, the pandemic was really isolating and this is an opportunity to get back together.”
Based out of its head office in the Kingston Road Village in East Toronto, Pegasus was founded in 1994 to help adults with developmental disabilities adopt adult roles in their community by harnessing their life skills. They provide day programs through meaningful activity and community engagement.
The organization also provides a job coaching program through which some of its participants have secured jobs in places like Starbucks or FreshCo. For more information on Pegasus and how to become a member, visit their website at https://www.pegasustoronto.ca/
Amarachi Amadike is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro Community News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.