Experimental/Dance/Music Festival – Today’s Testimonial

Olgierd Minkiewicz
Olgierd Minkiewicz

Great opportunity for every filmmaker to get an honest and undisturbed feedback about their projects. Fantastic venue (one in downtown Toronto), and Matthew Toffolo (the MC and moderator) was always on point. He truly cares about the filmmaker and understands how to talk to the audience. Overall a wonderful experience, and I had an amazing time in Canada.

5 Star Review

Director Biography – Darren Durlach, David Larson (R.A.W. TUBA)

Cf02ff1f93 headshot

DARREN DURLACH – Darren is a film/TV director that co-founded Early Light Media, a production company based in Baltimore, to take his experience in documentary storytelling to organizations that hope to communicate more effectively and memorably with their audiences, as well as develop editorial documentary films that add value to the world.

Over the past decade, Darren has had the opportunity to tell stories spanning the world from a Super Bowl in Indianapolis to the devastation in Haiti to the first inauguration of President Obama, all while working in broadcast and most recently as Senior Multimedia Producer at The Boston Globe. In 2014 he directed The Boston Globe’s first television documentary, 5 Runners, about the tragic Boston Marathon bombings.

Darren has had the honor of being named the Ernie Crisp Television News Photographer of the Year three years in a row in 2009, 2010, and 2011 by the National Press Photographer’s Association while working for WBFF in Baltimore and has been awarded 23 Emmys© by Chesapeake Bay and New England NATAS. At The Boston Globe, he was awarded the prestigious George Polk award from Long Island University with a team of investigative journalists for his contribution of a short documentary on the leniency Massachusetts judges show toward accused drunk drivers, as well as six national Edward R. Murrow awards.

Most fulfilling have been the opportunities to teach. Most recently Darren was a featured speaker at ‘Video Playground’ in Denmark and has guest lectured at Harvard Extension School. Darren has had the honor of teaching visual storytelling in 18 states for various organizations and thrives on meeting passionate people with the shared goal of raising industry standards for the betterment of society. Darren believes there is no more effective way to communicate the human experience than to tell a story.

DAVID LARSON – Dave is a disciplined director, photographer and an intuitive storyteller who uses the human experience as a canvas for creative expression. As a director of both narrative and documentary projects, Dave looks to balance his technical savvy and gorgeous cinematic images with his ability to find the relatable truth within real moment-driven stories making his work connect on deeper levels. Dave’s film making talents have garnered him many industry awards. Most recently, his short film “Throw,” pulled in a Vimeo Staff pick and numerous prestigious film festival awards including the Festival Directors Award at Mountainfilm in Telluride.


Director Statement


This is an important story for anyone who dreams of improving their life situation. It was a true honor for Richard to trust us with his story and the greatest award we could win is his approval of this interpretation of his life. He loves it, so we’re happy.

Short Film: R.A.W. TUBA, 28min., USA, Music Documentary

69cbfec532 poster

This film is about a Baltimore child who experienced intermittent homelessness but went on to become a world-class symphony musician and professor. As a child, Richard Antoine White (R.A.W.) slept wherever he could, sometimes in abandoned rowhomes where he was chewed on by rats during his sleep. Now in his 40s, he still has the scars across his abdomen. But despite enormous challenges, he went on to become the first African American in the world to receive a Doctorate in Music for Tuba Performance (D.M. not to be confused with the less rare D.M.A.), and not just from anywhere, from one of the most prestigious music programs in the US. Richard is now not only a tenured professor at the University of New Mexico, but he’s also the principal tubist of the New Mexico Philharmonic, which is in and of itself an Olympian-level accomplishment.

The Baltimore School for the Arts, a rare gem in the education world for it’s extraordinary track record of success, is where his life changed from a self-described “yo boy” with little direction to becoming obsessed with Tuba and ultimately following his dreams out of poverty. The director of the Baltimore School for the Arts met Richard on a chance encounter and after a one-in-a-million audition he set off on a course that changed his life forever.

“The only thing that will stop me from being successful is death.” ~ R.A.W.

News & Reviews

Short Film: OPEN THE WINDOW, 3min., Italy, Music Video

0da5c95f75 poster

The room of a hospital, two women waiting. The invitation to the soul to let go, the invitation to react for who remains.

A woman on a hospital bed, at the end of her life, is struggling to survive.
Another woman is waiting during those final moments.
In what is the close separation between the two figures, scenes of dailylife emerge in a dreamlike vision, in wich abandonment and loneliness are already announced, but even the prospect to be able to react. The hope is the vision of a new birth, the opposite of death that, at the same time, is linked to: birth is already a separation and in itself a death.

Project Links

Short Film: CEMETERY SONG, 4min., USA, Music Video/Animation

0177b52cb1 poster

An animated reflection on mortality, “CEMETERY SONG” explores a day in the life of inhabitants of a cemetery as they explore the power of memories, existential dread and finally a peaceful acceptance.

Project Links

Short Film: THE BLESSING AND THE CURSE, 5min., Music Documentary

2b2cfb6636 poster

The Blessing and the Curse is the surprising and inspiring story of folk, Americana, and rockabilly musician Lance Canales, who rose from humble California Central Valley farmworker beginnings to prominence in the international music scene.

Starting from his modest upbringing in the small campesino town of Orosi, California, we follow Canales on his journey from childhood to adulthood to his ongoing drive to bring working-class folk music to the masses.

Canales garnered a reputation as a child of being able to train wild horses, and for years took lumps to help his family make ends-meet. It wasn’t until he confiscated an older sister’s beat-up guitar and combined it with his vocals that he discovered (in his mother’s fire-and-brimstone church) that he was able to pursue music as a way to slowly carve out a path from his hard-toil life.

Following Canales into adulthood, we learn about his deep-seated desire to bring working-class spiritual folk music to the masses. Through sweat and determination, Canales records over five albums and tours throughout the world to enthusiastic audiences. He recently completed a two-month European tour, where his album hit number five on the European charts in the Americana category.

Additionally, Canales collaborated with Nora Guthrie, the Guthrie Foundation, and his childhood friend, American Book Award-winning Valley author Tim Z. Hernandez, on a concert to raise $10,000 for a memorial headstone for the 28 deportees project. Canales initiated the idea and fundraising effort to place a memorial headstone with the names of the 28 deportees and plane crash victims who were discovered buried nameless in a mass grave in Holy Cross Cemetery in Fresno, California. Canales’ idea was to record and read the names of the deportees in the background of Canales’ cover of the famous Woody Guthrie song about the incident.

In September 2013, in a historic moment, the headstone was unveiled and hundreds of people attended from all over the country, including coverage by The New York Times. A Los Angeles Times reporter captured a shot of Canales kneeling down to the unveiled monument in a moment of clear emotional triumph next to the grandson of one of the plane crash victims. Hernandez’ corresponding book, All They Will Call You, was recently released in January 2017 and is a genre-bending work labeled a “documentary novel” based on the Woody Guthrie song, Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportee).

Today, Canales is with Americana folk label Music Road Records, which put out his album, The Blessing and the Curse.

Canales recently ended a two-month European tour in tandem with his internationally and critically acclaimed album. Yet, with all that, Canales stays local and rooted in the Central Valley. He plans to “make it” while keeping his home-base in the heart of California. The question is, can a local artist truly thrive internationally while staying based in the Valley? Is it imperative for a musician or artist to move to LA, NYC or Nashville to make a career? Or can that be achieved while living in the Valley, and if so, what are the challenges and benefits of doing so?

But in addition to his personal journey, we are now seeking funding for a feature-length documentary to simultaneously tell the unusual story of Americana’s enormous and surprising popularity abroad, a particularly noteworthy oddity in today’s political climate. It’s a cultural subject we haven’t yet seen fully explored.

In general, the entire documentary would be told through interviews, live events, and theatrical recreations. Animations and other motion graphics elements would be incorporated into the video. The visual feel will be that of a retro vibe.

Project Links

HIGHLIGHTS & VIDEOS: Experimental & Music & Dance Festival – October 24, 2019


Theme of night: Trapped and searching for something else.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Videos:

festival posterEldur Á Himni – Fire in the Sky, 7min., Iceland, Experimental

festival posterSUCKR FOR LOVE, 4min., Germany, Music Video

festival posterECLOSION, 5min., Canada, Experimental

festival posterTHE FIRE WITHIN, 5min., USA, Music Video

festival posterPLASTICPOEMS, 2min., Canada, Experimental/Animation

festival posterLEADING ME STRAIGHT, 8min., USA, Music Video

festival poster14, 3min., Japan, Dance/Music

festival posterTHE SHE-WOLF, 10min., France, Dance

festival posterBRUTE, 4min., Australia, Dance

festival posterINCLINATIONS, 5min., Canada, Dance

festival posterKADDUME, 3min., Columbia, Dance

festival posterANIMAL, 7min., France, Dance

The 20th event in Toronto in 2019.
13 more festival events in 2019.

See you at the festivals.

– Matthew Toffolo