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Independent Leaders


Laura Vandervoort


Laura Vandervoort is a versatile actress who not only crosses over genres, but also transforms from character to character embracing the essence of every role she plays. Best known for her roles on the television shows "Smallville" as Supergirl, and "V," Laura has built an international fan base of men and women of all ages. Between her experience and stellar acting chops, Laura has been consistently working as an actress since she was thirteen years old. More recently, she has been developing and producing films, having found another passion working behind the camera. In 2019, Laura developed, executive produced, and starred in film festival favourite, Age Of Dysphoria alongside Canadian icon Gordon Pinsent. In 2021, Laura had her directorial debut with My Soul to Take, a short film she also wrote, starring Colm Feore. During the 2020 pandemic, Laura shot 5 feature films and an anticipated guest spot on the critically acclaimed series Handmaids Tale. Laura wrapped the lead role in a feature film thriller entitled Black Bags in Oklahoma at the beginning of 2022 and her production company Lava Works Entertainment Inc. currently has three films in development.


Kim Roberts


Kim Roberts is an internationally renowned Canadian actor with over 200 film, television, theatre and voice credits, including roles in Schitt's Creek, The Handmaids Tale, SAW III and SAW IV, and Paw Patrol. Kim is a pioneer in her industry. Not only has she represented Canada on domestic and international screens for the past 30 years, she is one of the first to have paved the way for artists of colour right here at home. Kim was the first Black Woman to speak in a nationally televised Canadian commercial in the early '90s. She is also a co-founder of Canada's most prominent Black theatre company, Obsidian, and has been a mentor to emerging actors throughout her career.


Ivan Reitman

Producer, Director

Canadian director-producer Ivan Reitman had a considerable impact on shaping mainstream comedy films in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. His first major success came after he produced National Lampoon's Animal House in 1978, a ground-breaking hit that inspired future college comedy humour. Ivan has directed a plethora of highly successful comedies, including Twins, Kindergarten Cop, Dave, and the beloved Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II. Recently, he also produced the highly anticipated sequel to Ghostbusters II, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, with his son Jason as director.

Over the years, Ivan has worked with several of Hollywood's A-List stars. Under his direction, countless dramatic actors discovered their previously unexplored comic talents, including Robert Redford and Emma Thompson. He even created a completely new persona for Arnold Schwarzenegger by featuring the action star in his first comedy role.

Ivan's comedic style still endures today, with revivals of his classic films Ghostbusters and Space Jam continuing to delight a new generation of audiences.


Mischa Barton


From the young age of eight, Mischa Barton exuded brilliance on the stage, garnering praise from critics and
co-workers alike. Taking her talents to the big screen Mischa would make an impact in two classics, the Julia Roberts-led rom-com Notting Hill, and M. Night Shyamalan's infamous thriller The Sixth Sense, just two of the many roles in her extensive catalogue of work.


Mischa would find her way into our homes and into our hearts with her perennial performance as Marissa Cooper in the hit Fox TV series, The O.C. You can see her next in the upcoming The Hills: New Beginnings.


A two-time Teen Choice award winner and Entertainment Weekly "It Girl", Mischa is one of the most credible actors of her generation. More recently, Mischa has focused her career on indie film, starring in over a dozen films in the last five years.

Enrico Colantoni Indie Leader 2017 VFF

Maria Ricossa


Maria Ricossa's professional life began in Chicago with The Second City. She then moved to Toronto, where she joined The Stratford Festival Company. In film & TV, Maria is known for her roles in The In-laws, where she played the wife of Albert Brooks, as well as Bojangles and The Space Between. She's had recurring roles in The Strain, Designated Survivor, Da Kink in my Hair & Missing. Maria was nominated for a 1982 Joseph Jefferson Award for Actress in a Principal Role in a Musical for "They're Playing Our Song" at the Marriott Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.

With her passion for acting, she teaches privately for film and TV and she has been on faculty at George Brown Theatre School, Armstrong Acting Studio, and University of Toronto Scarborough. She is currently teaching screen acting at Humber College.

Enrico Colantoni Indie Leader 2017 VFF

Enrico Colantoni


An esteemed Canadian actor, Enrico is best known for portraying Elliot DiMauro in the sitcom Just Shoot Me!, Keith Mars on Veronica Mars, and Sergeant Greg Parker on Flashpoint. He has also had supporting roles in such films as The Wrong Guy, Galaxy Quest, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and Contagion, and guest appearances on Monk, Numb3rs, Party Down, Stargate SG-1 and Bones. More recently, he starred as Allen Conner in Remedy and played crime boss Carl Elias in a recurring role on Person of Interest. His most recent role is as Laura Hollis' father in season three of the online web series Carmilla. He guest-starred on Madam Secretary as Jim Fox, attorney for an arms smuggling suspect.

Enrico is a passionate artist and continues to support the indie film scene as an actor and producer.

William Baldwin Indie Leader 2016 VFF

William Baldwin


William Baldwin has distinguished himself as an actor, producer, and writer who continues to showcase his multitude of talents in the world of film, television, and also music. Most recently, Baldwin has returned to primetime TV, starring in several hit shows and over 25 films of various genres. He appeared in the hit comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall and won an MTV Movie Award for Most Desirable Male for his work in the film Sliver. Other film credits include Backdraft, Virus, Fair Game, Three of Hearts, Flatliners, and Internal Affairs. He made his feature film debut in Oliver Stone's Born on the Fourth of July.

Baldwin has set a leading example, which more successful industry professionals should be following, by supporting the next generation of filmmakers.

Michael Madsen Indie Leader 2015 VFF

Michael Madsen


Michael Madsen is a Chicago-born actor, producer, director, writer and photographer. He's also recognized as an accomplished poet. He entered the film industry in the early 80s and has appeared in more than 150 films, including Thelma & Louise, Reservoir Dogs, Free Willy, Donnie Brasco, Kill Bill and Sin City. At the end of 2015 he collaborated for the third time with director Quentin Tarantino on the highly anticipated film The Hateful Eight.

Although Michael's impressive resumé has put him in the Hollywood spotlight, he still takes the time to work with independent filmmakers. Michael has shown that he is dedicated to the craft of filmmaking regardless of the project. He is a leading example of what talented and accomplished actors should be doing, which is supporting the next generation of filmmakers.

Fatima Ptacek Indie Leader 2014 VFF

Fatima Ptacek

Actress/Voiceover Artist

The first Independent Leadership Award was presented to up-and-coming actress, Fatima Ptacek. Fatima is known as the voice of "Dora the Explorer" but has recently taken part in a few independent films.

One notable project is the 2013 Oscar-winning short "Curfew", written and directed by Shawn Christensen, in which she plays the lead role. "Curfew" has since been adapted as a feature-length film entitled "Before I Disappear" and boasts an all-star cast (Ron Pearlman, Emmy Rossum, Paul Welsey) along with Ptacek and Christensen recurring in their original roles.

Fatima has shown strong leadership in the independent film circuit at the young age of thirteen. Vaughan International Film Festival congratulates her on her success and wishes her the best in the years to come.

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