Guelph Grads on the Go – TIFF Role Begins Career

Theatre grad says anything can happen on stage

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Rob Kraszewski

Forgotten lines. Wardrobe malfunctions. The proverbial broken leg. As a theatre studies grad, Rob Kraszewski, BA ’09 and MA ’10, knows that anything can happen on stage. His ability to deal with the unexpected helped prepare him for his current role as senior co-ordinator of board and executive relations at TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival.

“We got a very strong grounding in all aspects of how theatre works,” says Kraszewski of his Guelph program. “There was a lot of theory, but there was also a lot of performance.” During his first year at U of G, he played Mercutio in Prof. Ann Wilson’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Besides developing his acting skills, being on stage also boosted his confidence. “You should see me at a cocktail party,” he quips.

At TIFF, Kraszewski works closely with the CEO, chief operating officer and the board of directors. “A typical day can involve anything from setting up a meeting room and taking minutes in a board meeting to getting a call from some sort of filmmaker like Francis Ford Coppola.”

Aside from working on budgets, schedules and strategic plans, Kraszewski also gets to watch films before they are shown at the festival. “Any film that gets submitted gets watched,” he says. “We have a screening committee of staff members who watch films and say how they feel about them.”

Now that TIFF is in the international spotlight, the film festival has expanded from an annual 10-day event to offering films year-round, lectures, festivals, workshops and exhibitions at the HSBC Gallery and the Canadian Film Gallery. In 2010, TIFF moved to its new location at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Right now, the cultural charity is showing its “top ten” Canadian films of the past year to promote the achievements of Canadian filmmakers.

What does the future hold for TIFF? “What we want to be is the world centre for excellence in film,” says Kraszewski. “We want to be the place that you think of when you think of film and you think of Toronto.”