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Exclusive First Look: Sheila Pye’s ‘The Young Arsonists’ gets world premiere at TIFF

The Toronto International Film Festival announced its 2022 Discovery programme and Sheila Pye’s The Young Arsonists is one of the Canadian titles that will have its world premiere in this coveted category. Set in Ontario in 1987, and exploring themes of trauma, recovery, menstruation, and the power of sisterhood, we were immediately drawn to the subject matter and are pleased to offer an exclusive first look at some of the breathtaking film stills.

The Young Arsonists follows four teenage girls who form an intense and obsessive bond while reclaiming an abandoned farmhouse as their own in an isolated farming community. Together, they create a secret escape from their troubled home lives, the isolation of the rural landscape, and stifling patriarchal constraints. The girls’ relationships deepen and their emotional connection becomes physical when their menstrual cycles synchronize.

Starring Maddy Martin, Jenna Warren, Sadie Rose, Madison Baines, Aaron Poole, Miranda Calderon, and renowned opera soprano Measha Brueggergosman (also featured in the soundtrack) The Young Arsonists explores adolescent ferocity and emotional trauma in the face of abuse, poverty, and death, as these young girls struggle to find a safe place in the world.

A widely celebrated visual artist, Pye’s large-scale photography and video installations have been acquired for the permanent collections of both the Art Gallery of Ontario and Smithsonian Institute. The Young Arsonists is her much-anticipated feature debut. Having studied Pye’s work for some time, the cinematography will undoubtedly be stunning, and we can’t wait to see how the CFC grad transitions her aesthetic into narrative feature film.

TIFF’s Discovery programme will showcase 24 films from around the world. Discovery Lead and International Programmer Dorota Leach described this year’s selection as “bold, distinctive, and, above all, passionate.” Additional Canadian titles that had us shaking with excitement include Kelly Fyffe-Marshall’s When Morning Comes, Chandler Levack’s I Like Movies, Gail Maurice’s Rosie, and V.T. Nayani’s This Place.

“This year’s robust programme offers 24 films that shook us to the core, filled us with joy, broke our hearts, and, most importantly, reminded us that the future is bright.” Count us in.


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