Joanna Tsanis, Filmmaker

Toronto, Canada

“I come from a line of bold and tenacious women. My late grandmother immigrated to Canada on her own in the 1950s, and after proposing to my grandfather via a handwritten letter (which he accepted of course), she went on to build a successful daycare business. My mother followed in those daring footsteps. She worked in many different industries, mainly male-dominated, and she thrived as a leader and changemaker in every single one of them.

My dream was always to work in film, but for many years, I found myself oscillating from that path. Sticking to a safe career route was far less stressful and far less challenging. After my grandmother passed away, my mother and I spoke at length about her courage and fortitude - immigrating to a new country at such a young age, tossing out social conventions and building a truly wonderful life for herself and her family. When my grandmother passed, I realized I had to make a change in my life. I decided to take a risk and, with no film degree to my name, I directed, wrote and produced a self-funded horror short. The film (Imagine a World) went on to screen in 17 film festivals including two of the biggest genre festivals in the world, and received multiple awards including the ‘Night Mare’ award for Best Director. I have since produced several short films, directed another horror short (Mourn) which will premiere at the legendary Fantastic Fest, and I’m producing a feature-length horror anthology with an international cast. Like any career in the arts, filmmaking will always be a risky path, but as I’ve learned from the generations of fearless women in my family, some of the greatest things in life require taking a risk.” -- Joanna Tsanis, Filmmaker


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