The South Western International Film Festival is a new endeavour led by Toronto International Film Festival Programming Associate, Ravi Srinivasan. SWIFF will bring culturally diverse, International stories to the South Western Ontario region of Canada. Its home base is the city of Sarnia, situated between Detroit, MI and Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Our aim is to spotlight new voices, female perspectives, and stories that will engage a region that has a growing thirst for art and culture.
Executive DirectorRavi Srinivasan was born and raised in Sarnia, Ontario and studied Cinema and English Literature at Wilfrid Laurier University. He cut his teeth in the Canadian Film Industry with the feature film Production company, NEW REAL FILMS under the guidance of producers Jennifer Jonas and Leonard Farlinger. He went on to work for the national touring festival, REEL CANADA, and has since been serving as a Programming Associate for the Toronto International Film Festival since 2013. Ravi is also the Executive Director of the newly launched South Western International Film Festival. When he’s not watching festival submissions, he’s strategizing his fantasy football teams or listening to Sharon Van Etten.
Creative DirectorAs Founder & Creative Director of NXT LVL, Zenon has turned client concepts into production reality. Diversely experienced in filmmaking, videography, and photography, he discovers the unexpected through collaboration with clients and his uncanny sense of the ‘now’. Frequent collaborators include Universal Music, Hendrixroe, Pinkberry and Toronto Men’s Fashion Week. Educated at Queens University, he did post graduate studies at Sheridan College in Advanced Film & Television. When he’s not handling NXT LVL business he’s dedicated to bringing SWIFF the latest and greatest in design, photography, and video while also being Ravi’s right hand man.
Lead ProgrammerJennie attended the University of Toronto with a major in Cinema Studies. During her third year, she completed a three month internship as a Development Assistant for producer Teddy Zee in Los Angeles. After graduating, she started a position as an Executive Assistant at Cinemavault, an international film sales agent located in Toronto. Within a few years, she became the Director of Acquisitions, representing the company as a buyer at film festivals such as Cannes, Sundance, Berlin, SXSW, Busan and more. After taking a break from the industry to travel, she began her work at the Toronto International Film Festival. This is her third festival year with TIFF. She now works alongside Ravi Srinivasan as the Festival Programmer at SWIFF.
cineGAZE ProgrammerDanny Alexander is a Toronto-based videographer, musician, and concert promoter. Upon completing the Fine Arts program at Fanshawe College in 2007, Danny returned to his hometown of Sarnia to start a career as a freelance videographer. During this time, he co-founded the indie concert series Empty Spaces, which has brought a wealth of touring talent to Sarnia over the years. He moved to Toronto in 2011, where he has continued to grow his videography business and work on his various musical projects. Danny is pleased to contribute to Ravi’s vision to build SWIFF into a nationally-renowned film festival.
ProgrammerJake Howell is a writer, critic, and film programmer based in Toronto, Ontario. His work has been published in Maclean’s, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, NOW Magazine, and many others.
ProgrammerA recent U of T Cinema Studies graduate, Hallie is a programmer, actor and occasional rabbit trainer for films.
ProgrammerLevi graduated from York University with a B.A. in Film and Media Studies. Since then he has worked within the Submissions and Festival Programming departments at the Toronto International Film Festival as well as being a Front of House Manager for Hot Docs. My favourite films include ‘Harold and Maude’, ‘The 400 Blows’ and ‘The Squid and The Whale.’
Associate Programmer, Copy WriterLevi graduated from York University with a B.A. in Film and Media Studies. Since then he has worked within the Submissions and Festival Programming departments at the Toronto International Film Festival as well as being a Front of House Manager for Hot Docs. My favourite films include ‘Harold and Maude’, ‘The 400 Blows’ and ‘The Squid and The Whale.’
Grant WriterJamie Sterling grew up in Forest, a small town outside of Sarnia, and studied English Literature at Carleton University. She spent several years living, working and traveling abroad gaining insights into different cultures, religions and ways of life before pursuing postgraduate studies in Public Relations and Communications at Seneca College. Now a writer and communications professional, Jamie is thrilled to be involved with a team bringing diverse perspectives, art and culture to her hometown and the surrounding area.
Sponsorship Coordinator, Programming AssociateAdam Kamin is a Toronto-based writer, musician, and film obsessive. After graduating from University of Toronto’s Cinema Studies program in 2014, Adam spent the last few years working contracts for TIFF and Hot Docs amidst bouts of traveling and record collecting. His favourite rendition of “I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream” is performed by Roberto Benigni in Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Down by Law.’
Educational CoordinatorThis is Keirstyn’s first year working in a film-0related position, but she is pleased to be applying her experience as an educator to the SWIFF education team! Keirstyn currently works as a teacher for both the public and separate school boards. She loves providing enrichment opportunities to students that are both thought provoking and community based. When Keirstyn is not doing education-related things you can usually find her in a gym or working on a craft project!
Workshop CoordinatorAlthough Meghan is not in the film industry, it is her love of community events that makes her a great fit as the Workshop Co-ordinator for SWIFF. Her background is in Marketing, Real Estate and Event Planning. She is also the co-founder of Sarnia Fashion Week.
Olena Decock is a film festival programmer, who recently oversaw the Industry Conference at Hot Docs Documentary Festival. She was the Programming Associate to TIFF’s Middle East & Africa selections for two years and is the current Programming Associate to TIFF’s Industry Conference. Originally from Toronto, she has worked on a wide range of festivals, including Canada’s Top Ten, Reel Canada and the Toronto Outdoor Picture Show. In 2012, Olena earned an MA in Communication from the University of Ottawa, with a focus on immigrant identity in Canadian cinema. When not watching movies, Olena obsessively consumes all genres of music, as chronicled on her Instagram account @heardaboutyourband.
Indigenous Program Co-ordinator
Erica Maness is an Ojibwe woman from the Aamjiwnaang First Nation which is located south of Sarnia, Ontario. Erica is an entrepreneur and works closely with the native community advocating for aboriginal health & sustainability through education & training. As the Indigenous program co-ordinator Erica will be helping to bring the aboriginal community together with SWIFF.
Stephanie Turenko has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and is a Production Coordinator at REEL CANADA. She recently completed her first animated short film My Baba’s Kitchen (2016), and is starting to shoot her first doc in Ukraine this summer. In her spare time, Stephanie plans events for Folk Camp and Kosa Kolektiv, takes cool intagram photos of friends and spends all her money on travels.
Melissa has an Honours BA in Cinema and Media Studies from York University. Since graduating, she has worked as a programmer with the Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival and for festivals such as TIFF and Hot Docs. In 2013 she joined the team at REEL CANADA, where she is currently the assistant festivals manager. In 2016, she and her creative partner Nadine Brito co-directed their first short film Bad Investment, based on her formerly crappy romantic life. This past year, she and her friends co-founded The Bloody Mary Film Festival in Toronto, a festival spotlighting genre films made by Canadian women, where she serves as one of the senior programmers. She is thrilled to join Ravi and the amazing team at SWIFF.