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Toronto Pictures Puts a Lens on Social Issues

Photo courtesy of Toronto Pictures.

Toronto Pictures is a movie studio on a mission.

The Canadian company is dedicated to making Hollywood quality films that explore different cultures and educate about social issues, including child abuse, modern-day slavery, eating disorders and prostitution.

The studio also listens to social workers and covers issues that interest them. In January Toronto Pictures appointed  social worker and National Association of Social Workers member Silvio Orlando, MSW, and his wife Adriana Hellinger Orlando, to their advisory board. Mrs. Orlando is a former social worker. sat down with Toronto Pictures vice president and chief operating officer Daria Trifu to talk about the company and its projects:

Q: How long have you been involved with Toronto Pictures and what can you tell us about the company?

A: I moved to Canada in 1999 (Trifu is Romanian) and became involved with Toronto Pictures in 2000. Toronto Pictures is an independent film studio which develops, produces and distributes Hollywood standard, 35-mm feature films around the world.  Maestro Bruno Pischiutta is the founder, president and chief executive officer of the company.  He is the one who had the vision of using mainstream filmmaking to address issues of our world, thereby bringing them forth to the general public, reaching a large audience with films produced according to top production standards.  Bruno Pischiutta is an internationally celebrated writer, director and producer who is known for his lifelong commitment to fostering the art of filmmaking.

Q: Tell us more about your latest project “Punctured Hope.”

A: “Punctured Hope: A Story About Trokosi and Young Girls’ Slavery in Today’s West Africa,” is the first mainstream feature film which is based on an African story interpreted by an all African cast of professional actors and shot in Africa under the direction of Bruno. “Punctured Hope”  is inspired by the true life story of an African “trokosi” slave. Trokosi is one of the most widespread forms of women’s slavery that exists in the world today. In fact, today there are 25,000 Trokosi slaves and two million women who are genitally mutilated every year. “Punctured Hope” was an official Selection at the Montreal World Film Festival in 2009 and it has recently been nominated by the Political Film Society as Best Film Exposé  and Best Film on Human Rights of 2009. The film has now qualified for consideration for the Academy Awards as “Best Picture.”

Q: Where is the film being shown and how has it been received?

A: “Punctured Hope” has been screened in Los Angeles since November. Each screening of the film has evolved into an event. The audience included members of Amnesty International, the Green Party, Women in Film (WIF), Films4Change, Veterans for Peace and film professionals. Together with the general public present, they have all chosen to join the movement behind the film and Pischiutta’s cause. Viewers’ reactions have actually created a grassroots movement that identifies with this cause. Future event screenings will follow the film as it opens commercially in New York City beginning in June. When we decided to produce “Punctured Hope” we made the commitment to donate 10 percent of the net profit of the film from the first three years after the commercial release to develop the infrastructure of an African village.

Q: What other projects are you working on?

A: This year, we are producing the film “A Party Girl for the Rat Pack” which originates from the novel “Breaking My Silence: Confessions of a Rat Pack Party Girl and Sex-Trade Survivor” by Jane McCormick. For many years, Jane was very close to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop. The film will deal with the relationship between child abuse and prostitution. It will be non-graphic and it will constitute a new genre due to the fact that the structure of this new feature will be something that has never been seen before.This film has a budget of $3.5 million and it will be filmed in Brazil and in the United States.

Q: You recently formed an advisory board that includes social worker and NASW member Silvio Orlando. What is the importance of having a social worker involved with your film work?

A: Education is a big component of our films and, as I have stated before, most of our films’ topics consist of a social nature. The presence of Silvio Orlando and his wife Adriana Hellinger Orlando (who was herself a social worker for many years) on the advisory board is absolutely necessary for us and we are happy and honored to be able to count on their advice. As a matter of fact, when we were following the screenings of “Punctured Hope” in Los Angeles a month ago, we took the time to visit Optimist Youth Home and Family Services, a treatment center for young offenders in Pasadena. We were invited by Silvio Orlando, who has been executive director of the center since 1999. What we saw was amazing; we had the chance to speak with members of the staff and with young residents who were sent there by the courts instead of being sent to jail. OYHFS, rather than a detention center, resembles a resort. We did a walk-through of the entire facility: the chapel, the sport facilities, the art and music classrooms, the high school, the dining and social rooms and, of course, the residential apartments. OYHFS has a rehabilitation ratio record of 80 percent. We were very impressed by the attachment that the young offenders developed to the center, which they communicated to us. We were impressed by the staff’s dedication and we were particularly impressed by Silvio Orlando’s enthusiasm and complete devotion to his mission of rehabilitating these young men and women through his center. The new morality that our cause is aiming to achieve means not only exposing problems to our films’ viewers but also doing something about them. We are aware that the recent California budget cut to OYHFS funds result in a necessity for Silvio to look for private sponsors. Taking all this into consideration, we have decided to donate 10 percent of the net profit worldwide (including theater, TV, DVD, etc.) for the first three years from the commercial release date of the film “A Party Girl for the Rat Pack” to the center. This percentage will come from our producers’ share and it will not affect the profit share of film investors.

Like the people at Toronto Pictures, social workers are dedicated to ensuring equal rights for all in the United States and abroad. To learn more, visit the National Association of Social Workers’ Human Rights and International Affairs Division Web page by clicking here.

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  1. We should have more filmmakers like “Toronto Pictures”.

    Elisabetta Errani Emaldi

  2. Toronto Pictures it’s unique and the only one Canadian Film Company that deals with subjects that are for thought, education, and entertainment without violence. Toronto Pictures puts Canadian film in high standards thanks to the work of Mr Bruno Pischiutta and Ms. Daria Trifu! As a Canadian and, as a member of Toronto Pictures, I’m very proud of them!!

  3. Good Article Thank You. I Will Bookmark Thank I Just Love This Blog. It Not That Often When I Find An Interesting Article.

  4. Dear Sir,

    I am Fred Asante Kotoko, a film maker…a writer, director and producer. I have read through the webpage of Toronto pictures and i must congratulate the President Mr. Bruno Pischiutta and his fantastic and most experienced crew for the success of the movie PUNCTURED HOPE.

    With reference of the kind of film you are interested in doing, I have a prepared script/scripts entitled: BORROWED SKIN and BULK CHALLENGE.

    BORROWED SKIN, is supposed to be a documentary film set in the depth of the Ashanti Forest, the film is basically about the Plight of African Albinos and the many brutal and inhuman treatment that they are faced with in Africa. In most places/parts in Africa, having an albino child is considered a Taboo and until that child is beheaded or killed, the people believe that the village/town or community are under serious treat and curse from the gods. In the name of misconception and ignorance, thousands of innocent Albinos are confined to places and used brutally for money rituals or sacrifices to promote harvest and etc. BORROWED SKIN is a thought provoking didactic documentary script that will really go a long way in reducing the stigmatization against these people and also educating the African people and the world that any form of killing against another kind of people is uncivilized, barbaric and shouldn’t be encouraged.

    I am ready for a collaboration in seeing to it that these movies are shot and produced and touch the heart of people just as the movie PUNCTURED HOPE did for Toronto pictures because it also speak about human rights violation still in some parts of Africa.

    I hope you will contact me through this address for a better discourse.

    Movies Liberia Films Ltd,
    c/o Miracle Films Ltd
    Opera Square

    Best Regards
    Fred Asante Kotoko

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