Esabella Anna Karena: Best Youth Artist of MIFF

MIFF Canada recently announced the best of the annual festival and Esabella Anna Karena Strickland, a Canadian youth artist, director, actress and writer, was selected as the best youth artist of the year at the Montreal Independent Film Festival. Esabella was initially awarded in the seasonal MIFF and was also an official selection with short film projects such as My red Ball, Then and there, here and where, Death curse, A conversation with E, and Death Noise.


Esabella is a Multi Award-Winning Filmmaker, Award-Winning Writer, Award-Winning Actress, Artist, Media Host and GenZ Influencer based out of Vancouver, BC. She is a young, raw talent who is a learning disability advocate and empowering figure against bullying through the arts.

Esabella starred in local indie short film's Enlightenment, Things You Take, and Arthurs Gift. She also co-wrote, co-directed and starred in the Short Film My Red Ball and The Notebook through the Young Movie Makers Program. My Red Ball deals with themes of bullying, written through Esabella's own life experience, it has gone on to win at several film festivals. Esabella has also made appearances on local productions of Travelers, Goodboys, and Series of Unfortunate Events. Esabella is also the youngest member and supporter of Women In TV and FIlm Vancouver.


Esabella is also an Award-Winning Filmmaker and Writer for her feature film screen adaptation of her Novel Then and There, Here and Where which has won at several film festivals for Best Script. She was also behind the camera for A Conversation with E which was made through the CineLab Filmmaking Camp this summer. A Conversation with E is already an official selection of the 2021 Cannes Short Film Festival. This lead to her writing and producing her first Independent film called A Dialogue with Pandora this fall with the support of Actor Paul Greene

Esabella had the honor of co-hosting the 53rd and 54th annual Variety Show of Hearts Telethon as their Youth Ambassador. Esabella was also an EveRiathing red carpet host to support the 2019 Joey awards. Esabella was the ambassador and host for Geektopia 2019 to help raise money for the Amanda Todd Legacy. Esabella is also the ambassador and virtual host for the 2020 Meowfest to help raise money for the Langley Animal Protection Society, and Regional Animal Protection Society.


Esabella was invited to the 2019 Adobe Summit as an Adobe insider and speaker. She was the young influencer to attend the Las Vegas event and was in the top 10 in Social Media Engagement during the week of the Summit. Esabella has finished co-writing her first Young Adult Novel. Then and There, Here and Where, which will be published March 2nd, 2021. The main character of the book; Orabella has a learning disability while learning to become a heroine. Esabella's goal is to have girls feel connected and empowered by Orabella. As an artist, she is a painter, drawer and a jean pocket painter for celebrities and special orders of which 10% of sales go towards local charities. It is our pleasure to interview Esabella about her work as an award-winning artist.


How did you start making films and what was the first film project you worked on as a youth artist?

The very first project I worked on was when I was 12 and it was during Young Movies Makers Summer Camp, we made My Red Ball which has gone onto be a film festival favourite


What genre of filmmaking are you looking to work on and why? I love Horror movies because I love to jump scare my audience and I love storytelling in all forms


What is the most challenging aspect of being a youth filmmaker? I am lucky i live in a area where there are amazing filmmaking courses and camps, not everybody is so fortunate, so making filmmaking accessible to more areas would be key. How challenging is it to fund youth films? Not for me, I first joined Young Movie Makers, then I joined Cinelab at the Cinemateque during summer camps, they helped inspired me to become a filmmaker.

Please name three of your most favorite directors. How have they been influential in your work? My Fav Directors are Jennifer Lynch (Boxing Helena) , Jennifer Kent (Babadook) and Karyn Kusama (Jennifer's Body) What is your next film project and what are you currently working on? A feature film horror screenplay I wrote is being produced by Michael Grias, I also wrote a TV pilot Called Neurodivergent Society, It's like Atypical meets Degrassi High.so more focused on the business end of the business right now.


What do you recommend to youth filmmakers and artists? Follow your heart, also reach out and ask questions to people you admire, the worse they can say is no. good resource is Linkedin.

Why do you make films and what kind of impact would your work have on the world? I love storytelling, always have...from writing, directing, acting to artwork, I have a visual imagination (thankful for my adhd brain) I want to help other neurodivergent storytellers to believe in themselves and don't be afraid to try new things. Trailer of My Red Ball by Esabella Karena