The Mosaic International Film Festival is a celebration of diversity in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a forum for unique storytelling.

Filmmakers from 20 countries around the world submitted their work to share their stories, experiences, and cultural identities through the art of film.

The 4th edition of the festival was presented as hybrid event under the festive theme of “Flavours of the World”.

In-person panel discussions and select film screenings took place in an all-day celebration at the Canadian Museum of Immigration of Pier 21 in late March 2023, and all works selected as part of the festival’s Official Selection were screened online.

Awards Winners

The Sound of Us

Best Feature Film

Music is the sound of truth, the sound of hope. It is the sound of unity and courage. During this critical time in history, the profound truth remains that music is the great, universal language. “The Sound of Us” chronicles a series of wide-ranging, diverse stories that exemplify the power of music and the triumph of the human spirit.


Best Short Film

Tracey, a 19-year-old Black woman is living a charmed life; great adoptive-parents, college life and childhood bestie. On returning to college on the eve of her 20th Birthday, she suddenly gets ill and undergoes a transformation, discovering the truth about her true origins. She’s a Eua-Lander, from the planet Eual. Everything she thought she knew changes, her life makes a 180 degrees flip, one that she slowly adapts to with help from her best friend, Stevie and newly found brother, Seamus.


Best Short Documentary

The bond shared between a dog and a human, TOBY is a Service Dog who helped his human friend and parent recover and brought her back to her feet once again at the age of 60.

The Four Of Us Are Dying

Best Screenplay

During a road trip through the American southwest, a twenty-something fugitive-antihero and her naive, romantically-involved male partner kidnap a random male/female “couple” that the fugitive plans to include in a human sacrifice— that also includes herself and her partner, by incorporating the four of them into a single-living, fusion-based organism— in order to fulfill her lifelong quest to become sexually compatible with the extra terrestrial that abducted her when she was a small child.

Music Video for the song "Living All of Life"

Best Music Video

A young woman returns home to find solace and enjoys life again with her mother.

Glorious Holiday

Best Documentary

Youn-kyung, a fearless 20-year-old college dropout from South Korea is chosen by an international lottery to live in Canada with a chance to find a new direction in life. As she resonates with a Korean myth of a bear that turned into a human over 100 days with determination for glory, we follow her first 100 days in Vancouver and capture a journey full of new discoveries and unexpected growth.

Festival Photos

Panel Sessions

Panel 1

Key Considerations When Producing a Film

Nicole Steeves


Panel Moderator

Nicole Steeves is an award-winning Writer/Director/Actor/Producer. She has written and directed six short films, two feature films, and most recently produced Tara Thorne’s debut feature film Compulsus, which was a recipient of Telefilm’s Talent to Watch funding. She is the Co-Owner of Not for Everyone Films, along with partners Struan Sutherland & Bill Corkum.

Nicole is one of the five winners of the 2017 national screenwriting competition From Our Dark Side. She was also the winner of the 2015 WIFT Pitch Competition for her project Getaway and is an alumnus of the Women in the Director’s Chair mentoring program.

Erica Meus-Saunders

Executive Director, AFCOOP

Erica moved to Nova Scotia from the Bahamas to attend film school. After graduating in 2017, she quickly became immersed in the film industry, working in various crew roles—Production Assistant/Coordinator, Camera, Editor, Gaffer, Writer/Director and Producer. She’s made a few short docs, and scripted pieces that have played locally and regionally at HIFF, FIN: Atlantic International Film Festival, the Emerging Lens Film Festival, Being Black in Halifax and Devour! The Food Film Festival to name a few. Her latest short doc Music Resistance premiered at HIFF 2022, and she’s just wrapped up production on Eua-Lander, a scripted short film.

A member of AFCOOP since graduating (NSCC) in 2017, she has sat on the Board of Directors (BOD) for three years. Erica has also served on the WIFT-AT Board of Directors (2 years), DOC Atlantic (1 year), the Canadian Independent Screen Fund for BPOC creators (CISF), and participated in the first NSI–Business for Producers.

Laura Mackenzie

Executive Director, Screen Nova Scotia

Laura MacKenzie is an experienced programming consultant and industry market director with a demonstrated history of activating growth for non-profit organizations across Canada. Mackenzie has developed numerous industry programs and initiatives. This includes executing the Atlantic International Film Festival’s Strategic Partners event, an international film and television co-production/co-financing market, since 2013.

Before joining Screen Nova Scotia, she served as the Programming Consultant for the Canadian Media Producers Association’s annual conference, Prime Time in Ottawa. Mackenzie is also a member of the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council, a partnership between the cultural sector and the government of Nova Scotia designed to foster better understanding and decision-making.

Mackenzie holds a Bachelor of Business with a specialization in Tourism Development, Management from Mount St. Vincent University. She has also produced three short films in her home province of Nova Scotia, and worked in production on local and national films and television shows before stepping into her first role with the Atlantic Film Festival in 2009.

David Goudie

Program Officer, Arts Nova Scotia

David Goudie is an Inuk from Goose Bay, Labrador. As a composer, sound designer and educator, David spent much of his career working on film sets and in studios throughout Toronto. His work has been featured at TIFF and Cannes and includes film, television, video games, and VR/AR. He is especially interested in the Indigenization of digital spaces and how video games and VR/AR can be used to tell Indigenous stories in new ways. Since moving to Nova Scotia in March 2020, he has worked as an NSCC faculty member and is excited to contribute to the Nova Scotia arts community as a Program Officer at Arts Nova Scotia.

Bruno S. Lyra

Professor and Filmmaker

Originally from Brazil, Bruno S. Lyra was a corporate tax lawyer, having become the youngest partner in the history of his 70-year firm. However, in mid-2016, Bruno decided to walk away from his legal career to pursue his lifelong passion for film.

Since making the switch, Lyra has devoted his time to three activities: a) he teaches film-related courses at Toronto Film School and Yorkville University, in addition to lecturing at other institutions (recent engagements include serving as panelist for Mensa in September 2022); b) he produces (credits include the award-winning feature The Sounding, which sold to HBO in 17 territories) and consults for a variety of productions; and c) he’s a screenwriter (highlights include a deal with Blue Ant Media for a hour-long drama he created, a feature film script selected for development financing by Telefilm, in addition to a deal on his bilingual hour-long drama The International School).”

Screenwriting Masterclass

The Importance of a Strong Logline

Leah Walker

Writer/Director/Story Editor

Stories are the essential currency through which humans understand themselves, each other and make sense of this strange world. There’s nothing that connects us more deeply than our stories and they remain a fundamental link to the past and future. After 25 years of creating her own content and working with creatives to develop their ideas, Leah continues to be inspired by the process of encouraging and supporting screenwriters through their journey.

Having written and directed several shorts and two feature films, Leah has extensive experience with development and production. In addition to her own projects, Leah has spent the past 10 years as a teacher, guiding hundreds of emerging filmmakers through writing, developing, and producing their own films. Leah’s strength is uncovering the essential elements of a story and nurturing the writer’s unique voice. In the process of navigating the requirements of the industry, Leah remains committed to encouraging screenwriters to dig deeper, be more truthful and to get their own story on the page.

Panel 2

How Technology is Influencing Storytelling

Ifeanyi Emesih

Executive Director, Mosaic International Film Festival
Founder and CEO, My East Coast Experience Media Group

Panel Moderator

Ifeanyi Emesih is a serial entrepreneur, community leader, marketing expert, visionary, diversity and inclusion champion, and innovator. Emesih is the founder and CEO of My East Coast Experience Media Group, founder of Creative Hub, executive director of the Mosaic International Film Festival of Arts and Culture, a member of the board of directors at the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the advisory board on diversity and inclusion at Global News.

Emesih chose to make Halifax his home and has since drawn on his own experiences to create a platform for others to share their own immigrant stories with their own communities.

Jennifer VanderBurgh

Associate Professor, Film and Media, Saint Mary's University

Jennifer VanderBurgh is Associate Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at Saint Mary’s University where she teaches courses on film, television, media, and cultural memory. Her forthcoming book, What Television Remembers: Artifacts and Footprints of TV and Toronto (McGill Queen’s University Press) is a call to take television seriously as a cultural and historical archive. Jennifer is also writing a book on Nova Scotia filmmaker, Margaret Perry, who made over 50 films for the Nova Scotia Film Bureau between 1945 and 1969.

Fallen Matthews

Lecturer, Fountain School of Performing Arts, Dalhousie University

Fallen Matthews is an Afro-L’nu demigirl graduate candidate from Dalhousie University’s interdisciplinary doctorate program. Although her project is anchored by psychoanalytic film theory in Cinema and Media Studies, other disciplines which span her research interests include Africana Studies, Artificial Intelligence, English, History, Indigenous Studies, and Gender Studies. Her thesis examines African American film history and socioeconomic conditions utilizing a Deleuzian theoretical framework. Points of focus include Black Power, Blaxploitation, Civil Rights, New Black Realism, rap music, Reaganomics, Red Power, and postmodernist film. She is also a programmer for local film festivals and moderates several special interest groups.

Panel 3

Practical Tips to Improve Your Film

Tatsunari Watanabe

Public Programs and Community Engagement Coordinator, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

Panel Moderator

Through his work as Public Programs and Community Engagement Coordinator with the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Tatsunari has facilitated the telling of many stories of immigration and the immigrant experience. As a Japanese Canadian and the child of immigrants, he has known the in-between feeling many experience as they navigate the often-conflicted relationship between Canada and their cultural origins. To explore these feelings and his origins further, Tatsunari is writing a PhD dissertation in the Ethnomusicology program at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador on Irish traditional music culture in Japan, a musical style that he learned while working in Japan. Irish traditional music and musical culture has taken root and manifest in Japan in the most socio-culturally intriguing ways possible. Tatsu is also an accomplished fiddler in the Irish style, and a father. Both musical and textual storytelling are central to all aspects of his life.

Tori Flemming

Filmmaker and Programmer

Tori Fleming is a filmmaker, programmer and curator based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her works have been exhibited in Nuit Blanche Toronto, Art in the Open PEI, the Atlantic International Film Festival, the Halifax Independent Film Festival, the Bus Stop Theater, the Khyber Centre for the Arts and more. She holds a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and a certificate in International Curation from the Berlin based Node Centre. Fleming is currently the Executive Director at the Centre for Art Tapes, a Media Arts based artist-run centre in North End Halifax.

Israel Ekanem


Israel Ekanem is an award-winning storyteller. At a young age, his grandmother introduced him to the art of storytelling, and it quickly became his passion. His IMDb page lists over 20 writing and directing credits, including the award-winning, Drown the Lovers, Kill Your Masters and Dearg. Israel believes that a story properly told can change the world, one person at a time.

Sandrella Mohanna


Sandrella Mohanna is an actor, writer, and first-generation Lebanese Canadian from Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 2021, Sandrella produced her first short, MAID, through the AFCOOP FILM 5 program. The film has since been recognized at festivals worldwide and has received multiple nominations and wins.

Sandrella recently screened her first short documentary “In Be Tween” through AFCOOP’s “One New Day” filmmaking program and is currently submitting to film festivals.

Sandrella is a council member and Co-Chair for both the ACTRA Maritimes Awards Committee and the ACTRA Maritimes Diversity Committee, as well as a board member of AFCOOP, and a full member of ACTRA, AFCOOP, Screen Nova Scotia, and WIFT. Sandrella’s writing passion is for short films and she is currently developing her first web series.

Panel 4

Marketing Your Film

Sehmat Suri

Content Creator, Media Strategist, Aspiring Producer, and Creator-Curator of The POCketbook

Panel Moderator

Sehmat Suri moved to Halifax from Kolkata, India in 2014 to do her undergrad at Saint Mary’s University. She was always a creative child, and continued her love for the arts when she began modelling, acting, and creating content for brands in 2017. Her content focuses on lifestyle, travel, South Asian comedy, and social justice. In 2022, she created The POCketbook, a social enterprise that aims to create spaces for BIPOC artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs to get to know each other and build community, and she is currently producing a short film about immigrant experiences through the Atlantic Film Cooperative’s FILM 5 program.

Stephanie Joline


Stephanie Joline is an Indigenous writer, director, and producer based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her Indigenous roots come from her mother who is Inuit from Labrador; her father is French Acadian from the South shore of Nova Scotia. Equally adept at film and television, Stephanie’s stories provoke conversation, break boundaries, and are deeply rooted in inclusivity and feminism.

Her films include Night Blooms (2021) a coming-of-age story set in the 1990s; and Play Your Gender (2016), a documentary that pulls back the curtain on gender bias in the music industry, featuring interviews with Patty Schemel, Melissa Auf Der Maur, and Sara Quin. Stephanie has also directed for television and streaming platforms (Words Matter 2022, CBC Gem; Stream Me 2020, Amazon Prime; Farm Crime 2020 CBC Gem; Spirit Talker 2019, APTN).

In 2021 she was long-listed for the DGC Discovery Award, In 2022 she received Best Nova Scotia Director from Women in Film and TV Atlantic and won her first Canadian Screen Award for best directing in the factual television category.

Alison Zimmer

Content Analyst, Project Financing, Telefilm Canada

Alison is an accomplished film and media professional who has worked with leading Canadian distributors, film festivals, production companies and broadcasters. She is a content analyst on Telefilm Canada’s project financing team, based in her hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia. She began her career at the Toronto International Film Festival with Film Circuit, TIFF’s national outreach program, along with supporting the festival programming team. At Mongrel Media, she served as manager of theatrical releasing, and has worked as a consultant for Hollywood Suite and independent production companies.

She holds an MBA in strategic management from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, where she completed a research fellowship with the Institute for Gender and the Economy. Alison is an active community member, and volunteers with organizations focused on reproductive justice, active transportation and environmental advocacy.

Dany Rubbo

Brand Strategist, Récit Agency

Dany Rubbo has over a decade of experience in marketing, communications and in managing brands. A newcomer to Halifax, she moved from the UK in 2022, where she had built a successful career developing multi-channel marketing strategies and working with creative teams. She has extensive experience in media and worked for several years in the sports division of IMG Media in London.

Dany champions innovation and is passionate about building brands. An avid film enthusiast, she studied filmmaking and art history across two continents – in her home country of Brazil and in her then adopted home, the UK. Dany holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Advertising and Communications from USP – Universidade de São Paulo, a Diploma in Graphic Design from the University of the Arts London, and a Master’s Degree in Sport Management from Birkbeck, University of London.

She currently leads a team as Brand Strategist at Récit Agency, a My East Coast Experience Media initiative.

Panel 5

Retrospect: From 2019 to 2023

Jerisa Haque

Community Manager & Program Lead, Creative Hub

Panel Moderator

Jerisa Haque is a Bengali immigrant. She is passionate about building diverse and inclusive communities by using her background in the social sciences and research to dig deeper into structural issues while fostering partnerships. An anthropologist at heart, she loves diverse storytelling through various platforms, and learning about different cultures.

Kevin Hartford


Kevin Hartford is a writer/director based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He is a two-time alumnus of the Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative (AFCOOP’s) FILM 5 program and twice received their nomination to Telefilm’s Talent to Watch program for his feature film To the Moon, which will go to camera in 2023 with support from Telefilm’s Production Program. His shorts Charlie’s P.O.C. and Disco Apocalypse aired on the third and sixth seasons of CBC’s Reel East Coast and streamed on CBC Gem.

Jenna Marks


In a region that is no more than an hour from the ocean in any direction, it is no surprise that Jenna Marks’ animated films are heavily influenced by her deep rooted connection to water and nature. Her home’s rural seclusion yet diverse social economy gives her a vulnerable, honest and unique voice in the Canadian cinema landscape of today.

John O’Brien

Writer/Co-Director, “Wanna Be”

John O’Brien is an actor, podcaster, and independent filmmaker from Atlantic Canada. He has worked in Nova Scotia’s film industry since 2016. He got his start as a PA on various films produced by AFCOOP’s Film 5 program, before connecting with writer/director Israel Ekanem in 2018. Since then, he and Ekanem have collaborated extensively on over a dozen films. Most notably, O’Brien appeared as the sinister Hansie Johannes in Ekanem’s acclaimed short film “Kill Your Masters”.

O’Brien is also a stage actor; he appeared in the 2022 Halifax Fringe production of The Murder of Mary Lane. Written and directed by Chris Coculuzzi, it is based on the true story of the last woman to be executed in Canada for capital murder.

O’Brien hosts his own podcast, Lexicon of Dread, where he narrates classic horror tales, with original music composed by himself. “Wanna Be” is his first film as a director.

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