Riding With Rollo honoured with two awards

Riding With Rollo still

Riding with Rollo, a short film directed by Maya Bastian in collaboration with Taylor Hazell Architects, has been honoured with a Media Award from the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario as well as a Heritage Education Award from the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals.

The film presents an engaging look into the world of living with accessibility challenges in Toronto. Advocating for open, universal access to the places that define our communities, this video aims to give its audience a rooted understanding of the day to day challenges of those faced with mobility issues.

The film was also nominated by Heritage Toronto for their Media Award. What a run!

‘Air Show’, a new short film in progress

Drone image

Written and directed by Maya Bastian, ‘Air Show’ is a short narrative film that interrogates the experience of newly-arrived Toronto refugees who experience the Canadian Air Show for the first time. 

Amongst cheers of glee and exhilaration from it’s viewers, the Canadian Air Show has been tormenting Parkdale citizens for nearly 50 years. The Toronto neighbourhood of Parkdale is a diverse area which owes it’s vibrancy to the scores of immigrants and refugees that influence it’s streets.

Nearly 20,000 displaced persons call Parkdale home, many of whom have experienced war and aerial bombing first-hand. What happens when they arrive traumatized by conflict, only to have an extravagant show of Canadian military strength in their front yard? Do the fighter jets above their heads, the deafening noises and the windows rattling elicit a distinct response? This film poses these questions through the eyes of a newly widowed father and his young daughter. The pair arrive as refugees from the 30-year civil conflict in Sri Lanka. They are adjusting to a new, impoverished life when the Canadian Air Show interrupts their dysphoria.

‘Air Show’ aims to explore the intersection of Canadian culture and tradition with our ever-evolving climate of diversity and acceptance. The result is an intimate look at the trauma of conflict, the remnants of which are oft carried over into daily life. 

In an experimental fashion, the film was shot during the 2016 Canadian Air Show. All of our professional actors are also victims of war who have experienced air raids. While filming, the actors had the opportunity to react in real-time to the noise and disruption of the fighter jets flying above.

Press coverage


Life and Death Through a Child’s Eyes – Free Range Child

Overgrow The System
Life and Death Through a Child’s Eyes 
January 4, 2016

The scent was pungent. Odrific. In our neighbourhood the skunks rule the roost, and when one of them got battered by devil-may-care urban traffic, the intense scent would waft over the rooftops and infect every street within a 3-mile radius.

My daughter and I wrinkled our noses in disgust as we meandered home from school.  Approaching us from the opposite direction was a father with his young child toddling along beside him.  He veered directly towards us and then firmly planted his hands over his 3 year old’s ears.  ‘There’s a dead skunk on the road up ahead.’ He hissed.  ‘You might want to steer your child away from it, it’s a pretty gruesome sight’.  I nodded in thanks as he removed his hands, allowing his daughter be a part of the conversation again.  They passed us by, him making obvious efforts to distract her.  When we were far enough away, I turned to my little 4 year old sprite. ‘Wanna go see it?’ I asked with a glint in my eye.  She cried out with a glee normally reserved for roasted marshmallows and My Little Pony. ‘YES!’

We hurried towards the thickening scent and there we saw it.  Flattened by tires with it’s insides spilling out onto the road, it was the skunk.  ‘Can we go closer?’  The sprite asked. Who was I to deny?  Far be it from me to shelter her from the mysteries of life and death.  We ventured closer and stood next to the decaying body.  I felt an immediate sense of empathy for the creature.  My daughter laughed.

“It was the first time she had borne witness to death. Contrary to the other parent’s warning, I did not think to avoid the issue. Sheltering our children from the realities of nature is a barren attempt at understanding divine methodology.”

I wish to encourage a diversity of thought in my child.  How do things work?  Why do they work?  Our children deserve to know, even if the truth is not always pretty.  Far from being obscene, exposing a child to the circle of life and death is a nuanced way to discourage Us vs. Them thinking, a concept that is all too real in today’s modern world.

The idea that any living thing is different or more valuable than another is a sickness that we suffer from in our society.  Many communities have lost their innate sense of interdependence.  Teaching our youth to foster a connection with the natural world illustrates to them that we are not whole without one another.  Seeing a part of our world travel the bodily distance between birth and demise also encourages their inner sense of wholeness.  It is this wholeness that leads us all to think objectively and compassionately.  It is what I like to call ‘full-circle thinking’.

The gutted skunk may have been a grisly sight, but it really is how you depict it to a child.  Children are not preconditioned to the violence that accompanies the blood, guts and gore that mass culture presents to adults on a daily basis..  To my daughter, it was a fascinating look at animal anatomy and a chance to grasp a deeper understanding of the fragility of life.  The parent who chooses to shelter their child from these things are teaching them to live in a world where their own senses aren’t able to guide them to an awakened sense of being.

For me, I’ve chosen to parent my daughter in a way that teaches her to use her own instincts as a gauge between right and wrong.  This episode with the skunk taught her leagues more than I could’ve ever done with words alone.

The revered Indian sage Ramana Maharishi put it best when he was approached by a seeker.  ‘How are we to help others?’ The man asked.  To which Maharishi replied ‘ ‘There are no others’.

That decimated skunk by the side of the road was me, it was you, it was the great earth that surrounds us and the sky up above.  Describing it as anything less than that does not do fair justice to the hearts of our children.

Maya Bastian is a writer and award-winning filmmaker. Her words can be read in Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Her Magazine and others. She currently works as COO of HoneyColony, a holistic health and wellness website while also developing her first feature film and raising her four-year old daughter to be conscious and content. Find out more at www.mayabastian.com

Overgrow the System