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Human Potential in the Age of Exponential Tech

Well Played- Cinema by Citizens: Toronto Urban Film Festival

I know everyone talks about social media and refers to the web, but I am always interested in the ways that a city engages members of a community to create and share creative content.

The Toronto Urban Film Festival is one example of how organizations are leveraging existing infrastructure by opening them up to citizens, in this case, to create cool short films. I like that they’re using the TTC screens to create a different experience for TTC commuters, and I like the short format, perfect for people waiting to catch their trains.

I also think this is such a great opportunity for budding film makers to experiment with the medium and get a lot of exposure. It would have been cool to have a mobile component where commuters could text in their votes while they are waiting for their train (or when they are at one of the outdoor stations) and select the more engaging video.

As a huge supporter of the Arts, I am also always interested in seeing these creative contests that strive to infuse art into our daily lives.

What is TUFF?

TUFF is an 8-day long public film festival on the TTC – the only one of its kind in North America – featuring a different urban-themed program of 1-minute films each day.

Films selected by the jurors for each thematic category will play on the network of 250 TTC subway platform screens repeatedly during one day of the festival. The 8th day of TUFF is programmed based on audience votes.

The themes are:

  • Urban Encounters – the moments that make city-living worthwhile
  • Urban Fears – the darker side of living in a metropolis
  • Urban Growth – from skyscrapers to suburban sprawl
  • Urban Imaginary – hopes for the future of municipalities
  • Urban Natural – the living city, both nurtured and oppressed
  • Urban Secrets – stories about the hidden or forgotten city
  • Urban Travels – from taking public transit to practicing Parkour

What do you need to know?

  • The contest is open to international film makers, so you don’t have to be from Toronto.
  • You can be an expert or an amateur.
  • They accept all genres of film, video & animation.

Why should you participate?

  • The chance to have your video shown to over one million people, and 250 TTC video screens around the city!
  • It is free to submit, filmmakers retain rights, and receive $150 per selected film – $75 for taking part in TUFF on the TTC, and $75 for being a part of our websites.
  • Selected films will also be shown on the TUFF website and TUFF Youtube channel

How do you submit?

  • Send an email to that describes your one minute film idea in one or two paragraphs. Also include a CV and contact information.
  • The seven submissions that best capture the spirit of the TUFF THEMES will receive a TSV membership and up to $600 of-in kind support towards the production and post production of their movie.


July 1st for TUFF Submissions and May 5th for TSV Pitches

I know as a frequent commuter I will be watching the videos and how other commuters respond to them. It’s an interesting little contest and I’m curious to see how it plays out.

Comments: 1

  • Sharon Switzer

    May 13, 2008

    Hi – thanks for posting this!
    Just one comment – people can upload their films directly by JULY 1, on our website (, or mail it in, postmarked by the same date.
    Executive Director, Toronto Urban Film Festival

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