Breakthrough 2.0: Meet the 2024 Participants

Congratulations to the nine participants selected for DOC Institute’s newly updated Breakthrough 2.0! This year, the lab is designed for experienced documentary producers with a track record of acclaimed shorts or feature documentaries. Breakthrough 2.0 2024 is led by facilitators Lalita Krishna and Aeyliya Husain.  Learn more about the participants below. 

Breakthrough 2.0 is funded by Ontario Creates, Rogers Group of Funds, and CBC, and is held in partnership with the Black Screen Office, Canadian Independent Screen Fund, and the Manitoba Screen Office

Maya Bastian

Maya Bastian is an award winning Tamil-Canadian filmmaker and writer with roots in conflict journalism. Her work has been supported by Netflix, HBO, UN IOM, CBC and the Canadian Film Centre. Her short drama AIR SHOW received national press for its look at refugee reactions to militarized air shows and her recent film TIGRESS participated in Cannes Court Metrage ’21. She is a recipient of the prestigious Chalmers Fellowship, and was a writer/researcher on the 5 CSA-winning series BLK: An Origin Story for Hungry Eyes Media/History Channel. She is a producer on the BIPOC women-led development team at CineFAM and is the founder of the X-Wave Mentorship series for BIPOC creators at Trinity Square Video. Her work frequently explores the trauma related to displacement and migration.


Ian Bawa (BSO/CISF)

Ian’s film career started out interning with FilmTraining Manitoba in the lighting department and working in every department a set (both big and small) can offer from there. This allowed Ian to learn, appreciate, and understand every aspect of filmmaking and become a Swiss army knife of skills and knowledge when producing on and off set.  
Since then, Ian has produced, directed, and worked on a number of features, short films, documentaries, music videos, and a variety of other projects. His past work has won him many accolades and recognition locally and around the world, and has been written about in publications such as Ain’t it Cool News, The AV Club, and was awarded a Vimeo Staff Pick for his film The Champ.  
His film, Imitations, premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival with great acclaim, and toured globally from there, playing at festivals such as Vancouver International Film Festival, Fantastic Fest, and many others. Ian’s film, Tapeworm, premiered recently at this year’s 2019 Vancouver International Film Festival and 2020 SlamDance Film Festival. His latest film, Strong Son, premiered at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival, 2020 Vancouver International Film Festival, and the 2021 Aspen Shortsfest.


Lamia Chraibi (BSO/CISF)

Lamia Chraibi is a French-Moroccan filmmaker based in Montreal.

She is particularly interested in the themes of social justice, identity, family and territory. She also deals with subjects related to body language and social art.

The human being is at the heart of her approach. Her studies in social science (Sorbonne, Paris) and in documentary (INIS, Montreal) have shaped her sensitive and committed vision of the world. Her art is nourished by her identity questions, her migratory journey and her travels.

Lamia’s cinema is based on time and the trust established with the protagonists. With a poetic approach, her camera gives a voice to the forgotten from diverse backgrounds.


Aïcha Diop (BSO/CISF)

Aïcha Diop is an emerging director. Her debut film, a documentary short entitled NANCY’S WORKSHOP (Canesugar Filmworks, CBC Docs), launched online in September 2019 and has since amassed over 2.2 million views. The film is an official selection of this year’s Hot Docs Film Festival. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from McGill University and a Master of Arts Degree from The New School. She lives in Toronto with her dog Llama, a rotating roster of foster dogs, and a growing collection of useless thrift-store curiosities.


Cristian Gomes

Cristian Gomes is a multidisciplinary filmmaker from Toronto, Canada, who has worked in various roles in documentary,  journalism, and narrative film. From wielding cameras at CBC Toronto to sculpting compelling stories for Dragons’ Den, Cristian’s journey embodies a diverse range of experiences.

As a Producer/Director at Lost Line, Cristian’s dedication to cinematic excellence led him to creating immersive documentaries and narrative films. At the core of Cristian’s craft lies the ability to transcribe an exciting, authentic and cinematic portrayal of humanity to the screen. Documentaries he has helmed, Road to Roxham and The Last Guide exemplify his knack for capturing raw emotions and societal truths. These films have resonated with audiences, earning acclaim at festivals and amassing millions of views, a testament to Cristian’s storytelling prowess.

Cristian holds a unique perspective on filmmaking, believing that his hands-on experience in editing, cinematography, producing and directing provides an aerial view of the creative process – each discipline informing the other. His passion lies in telling stories that resonate with all Canadians, offering insights into their identity and shedding light on issues that delve into the core of what it means to be a conscientious human caring deeply about our world. This ethos shapes his documentary storytelling, aiming to elevate entertainment while touching hearts and provoking thought.


Jeanette Kong

Jeanette Kong is a Toronto documentary producer, award-winning director and writer. Most recently, she produced A Brief Record of My Father’s Time at Sea, which aired on TVO and is available on-demand on It was featured at the 2023 World Hakka Expo in Taiwan. It was nominated in the craft category for Research at the 2022 Yorkton Film Festival’s Golden Sheaf Awards and premiered at the 2021 Reelworld Film Festival.

Her debut feature Finding Samuel Lowe aired on PBS, the Africa Channel and the Flow Network in the Caribbean. It was the Opening Night Gala Film at the 2015 Reelworld Film Festival where it won the ReelChoice Audience Award and was shortlisted for Best Diaspora Documentary at the 2014 Africa Movie Academy Awards.

She produced two documentary shorts — The Chiney Shop and Half: The Story of a Chinese-Jamaican Son. They screened at several international film festivals and museums including the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival, Regent Park Film Festival, Art Gallery of Mississauga and Penn Museum.

In 2022, Jeanette was selected for the Rogers-BSO Script Development Fund and a participant in the inaugural NSI-EAVE Access BIPOC Producers Program supported by CMF. Her company Jiang Media Inc. is a member of the CMPA. Currently, she has two documentaries in development and is working on her first screenplay. A journalist by training, Jeanette honed her craft as a producer and director in arts and current affairs at TVOntario. She holds a MA in Media Production from Toronto Metropolitan University.


Shasha Nakhai (BSO/CISF)

Shasha is a storyteller whose work has taken her to the Hawaiian coastline, the ski slopes of Davos, the Nevada desert, a Cold War bunker, the engine room of a decaying ship, Philippine sugar mills and the front lines of Nigeria’s energy crisis.

Her work has aired on the BBC, CBC, ZDF, and Arte; screened at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); been nominated for 16 Canadian Screen Awards; named TIFF’s Top 10; and shortlisted for an Oscar.

With over a decade of experience in documentary, Shasha recently released her first drama feature with partner Rich Williamson – Scarborough, adapted from the award-winning novel by Catherine Hernandez. The film made its World Premiere at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the Shawn Mendes Foundation Changemaker Award, was 1st runner up for People’s Choice, and received an Honourable Mention for Best Canadian Feature.

Shasha is an alumna of TMU’s Journalism Program, Berlinale Toolbox, the DOC Institute’s Breakthrough Program, Hot Docs Doc Accelerator, WIFT’s Ubisoft Toronto Mentorship, the Reel Asian First Feature Lab, and TIFF’s Talent Accelerator.

She is repped by Great North Artists in Canada, and Echo Lake Management in the US.

Therese Shechter

Therese Shechter is an award-winning filmmaker and the founder of the production company Trixie Films. Her work fuses humor, activism, and personal storytelling to examine and confront society’s most sacred ideas about womanhood.

Her most recent film, My So-Called Selfish Life, is revolutionary documentary about one of our greatest social taboos: choosing not to become a mother. Released in 2022 to critical acclaim, it reached audiences in 35 countries, and has become a powerful tool for fostering conversations about reproductive autonomy in this post-Roe v Wade era. 

This film is the third in her series of documentaries exploring thorny questions around women’s roles and destinies, including I Was A Teenage Feminist and How To Lose Your Virginity. The series continues with a new film about Menopause, which is currently in development. 

Therese began her two-decades-long film career at Robert DeNiro’s production company Tribeca Films. Since then, her documentaries have screened on television and online, and appeared in film festivals from Rio de Janeiro to Istanbul to Seoul. Her work is in the collections of hundreds of universities, non-profits, and libraries, and has been featured in The Guardian, New York Magazine, The Globe and Mail, NPR, Macleans, The Chicago Tribune, POV, and Elle among others.

Therese is currently researching a series on childfree lives around the world. She serves as an advisor to the New Legacy Institute which addresses global pronatalism and the threats to reproductive justice. Therese recently returned to her hometown of Toronto after two decades living and making films in Brooklyn, NY.

Chris Strikes

Chris Strikes is a Canadian Screen Award-winning director who began his career in music videos working with top Canadian and international artists, including Nelly Furtado, Kardinal Offishall and Machel Montano.
In 2019 Chris was one of only six recipients of Hot Docs’ first Cross Currents Canada Fund, with his first feature length documentary BECOMING A QUEEN. Chris is also an alumni of Hot Docs Accelerator Fellowship, Reelworld E20 program and the Netflix-BANFF Diversity of Voices Initiative.
BECOMING A QUEEN screened in film festivals in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean and went on to win Best Feature Film at the 2021 CaribbeanTales International Film Festival, the Audience Choice Award for Best International Feature Film at the 2021 Baltimore International Black Film Festival and was nominated for Best Picture Editing for Documentary in the 2021 DGC Awards. Most recently, Chris wrote, directed and co-produced the hit CBC Short Docs film, PATTY vs. PATTY, released in 2022. PATTY vs. PATTY went on to win five awards, most notably the 2023 Canadian Screen Awards for Best Short Documentry.