There is no better way than “the reel deal” to define Tonya Lee Williams, Founder and Executive Director of the Reel World Film Festival, this week celebrating its 10th anniversary year of enriching us with the finest cinema from multi-racial world communities.
Creating value is a core theme and belief that she passionately encourages and passes on to staff, volunteers, film makers and audiences alike. “I am grateful to still be around people who support and are part of the Festival and see the need and value of telling our diverse stories on the screen. We need to nurture our emerging Canadian and foreign film makers to make them feel loved and valued. I think of my mother. If she can come out year after year to applaud and give blessing, anyone can and should.”
The key to the Festival’s continuing success and her own longevity as its founder and visionary is frankly summarized, “If each staff member and volunteer assumes responsibility for themselves and everyone else in the running of the Festival, that’s all we can ask for … but after ten years, it’s still a struggle and challenge. I always hope that nothing goes wrong and if it does, I erase it and just keep looking forward.”
At Wednesday’s opening night reception, as I stood between Tonya and her mother, a woman of grace, beauty and surprisingly not quite as young as she looks, I felt the staying power of two generations. She proudly confided, “That girl had the same vitality and drive as a child that she possesses today in all she does for the Festival.”
The Reel World Film Festival runs from Wednesday, April 7 to Sunday, April 11.
For tickets and schedule go to www.reelworld.ca or 1-800-595-4849