WIFTV Whistler Film Festival Film Market Preparation Mentorship Awarded to Jen Walden

Jennifer Walden has been awarded the WIFTV Whistler Film Festival Film Market Preparation Mentorship for her project Elijah and the Rock Creature. Jennifer Walden is a Yellowknife filmmaker and noted visual artist whose distinctive style explores Canadian and Northern life through people, wildlife and topography. Her unique eye for aesthetic detail and captivating storylines has resulted in three award-winning short films. Jennifer’s first short, Painted Girl, found success as one of nine national finalists in the CBC’s Short Film Face Off competition and her first feature Elijah and the Rock Creature has been developed from a script that was chosen for the IndieCan 20K contest. Elijah and the Rock Creature was shot entirely on location in the Northwest Territories with a northern cast and crew. The film opened the Yellowknife International Film Festival in September 2018 and will be screening at the 2018 Whistler Film Festival.

Upon learning of the news, Jen expressed, “I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in this mentorship. I am passionate about filmmaking, and I’m also passionate about learning. The chance to have one on one sessions with a seasoned professional is a dream come true. With my first feature film screening at this year’s festival, I’m so motivated to keep my career moving forward. I think this mentorship will be the perfect opportunity to help me do that.”

Jen Walden WIFTV WFF Mentee

Jen Walden – 2018 WIFTV Whistler Film Festival Market Preparation Mentee

Jen will receive industry immersion at the Whistler Film Festival, as well as personalized coaching sessions with an experienced producer. This year’s mentor is producer and creative partner at Sepia Films, Tina Pehme. For the last two decades, Tina has developed projects and relationships internationally through her extensive work on US, Canadian and International co-productions. Her background in production allows her to bring a hands-on knowledge of physical production as well as the ability to anticipate production needs in a variety of budget ranges and co-production scenarios. As a partner in Sepia Films, Tina has developed, consulted and produced for both film and television in Canada, the US, India, the United Kingdom, China, South Africa, Ireland, Spain and Argentina.

Special thanks to the WIFTV Whistler Film Festival Mentorship jury which consisted of Christian Bruyere, Producer, Mystic Films Ltd; Nick Kendall, Coordinator and Documentary Instructor, MOPA at Capilano University; Eileen Hoeter, Line Producer and former WiFTI International President; and Dusty Kelly, Secretary & Business Agent Vancouver Musician’s Association and Chair of the selection committee and member of the WIFTV board.

Visit www.womeninfilm.ca  to find out more about WIFTV’s mentorship opportunities!

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Annenberg Inclusion Initiative Study Shows Inequality in Film Criticism

Written by Sarah Bakke

There has been much recent discussion of diversity, respect, and representation in the film industry (and in entertainment industries beyond). Over the last handful of years, we have seen necessary change begin to happen, even if only in the public’s consciousness, and we as a collective society have started having a larger conversation about the insidious results that the lack of diversity, respect, and representation in the industry can reap. The world stage has been full of public figures on display for their wrong-doings and their lacklustre attempts at rectifying the damage. And certainly, it is important that the failings of these figures are not kept in darkness anymore; the publicity of the world stage is thus working in favour with the under-represented and the marginalized. We must remain vigilant, however, to ensure that once the publicity dies down, work towards change continues. Thankfully, there are a lot of hard-working people and organizations devoted to changing the film industry for the better.

One such organization, in the US context, is the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, founded and directed by Professor Stacy L. Smith. The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s mission is “to foster inclusion and give a voice to disenfranchised or marginalized groups” by compiling and organizing data and theory-based research regarding the entertainment industry’s status quo. Most recently, the Initiative focused on the film critic community; who writes film reviews, and what does this demographic indicate about film criticism and its influence, at large? Professor Smith and associates (in partnership with TIME’S UP Entertainment) put together a comprehensive study (the second of it’s kind, focusing on film criticism’s impact on gender and racial representation/parity) based on 300 film reviews written by Rotten Tomatoes critics over the course of three years, in order to find out exactly what the stats say about gender and race/ethnicity inequality amongst film critics. The results are disheartening, if not unsurprising.

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Infographic from “Critic’s Choice 2: Gender and Race/Ethnicity of Film Reviewers Across 300 Top Films from 2015-2017” — Marc Choueiti, Dr. Stacy L. Smith, & Dr. Katherine Pieper.

According to the study, titled “Critic’s Choice II,” 48.3% of the total 300 films examined did not feature a review written by a woman of colour. Similarly, 45.4% of the 108 films driven by female leads and 35.1% of the 57 films led by under-represented folks onscreen also did not feature a review written by a woman of colour. In other words, an astounding number of top-grossing movies appearing on Rotten Tomatoes have never been reviewed by anyone other than white men. The study breaks these numbers down even further, stating: “only 21.3% of the 59,751 reviews evaluated were written by female critics, with 78.7% crafted by male critics… Critics from underrepresented racial/ethnic backgrounds composed 16.8% of these reviews compared with 83.2% by white critics… White male critics wrote substantially more reviews (65.6%) than their white female (17.6%) or underrepresented male (13.1%) peers. Underrepresented female critics only wrote 3.7% of reviews included in the sample. Across the three years studied, there was no change over time in the representation of critics.”

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Infographic from “Critic’s Choice 2: Gender and Race/Ethnicity of Film Reviewers Across 300 Top Films from 2015-2017” — Marc Choueiti, Dr. Stacy L. Smith, & Dr. Katherine Pieper.

This kind of gendered and racial imbalance is evidence of an obvious problem within the film criticism community which, predictably, is in line with problems of representation and gender/racial parity in the movie business at large. Not to mention, it very likely has systemic influence over the success and/or failure of marginalized filmmaking as a whole. Who knows which films have been glossed over, misunderstood, or forgotten completely because their diversity is not reflected in the pool of critical response? Moreover, what valuable opinions, criticisms, and insights have been lost in the sea of white, male voices? Justin Chang of the L.A. Times writes, “We need more female critics and critics of colour because the diversification of any talent pool is a worthy and important end in its own right. The critical discourse on cinema will naturally be balanced, complicated and enriched in the process, but in ways that are and should be impossible to prescribe or predict.”

Studies like the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s “Critic’s Choice II” help immensely by providing concrete, research-based evidence that other professionals can point to when crafting industry reform from the ground up. These kinds of numbers can, and should, change policy and bring about visible change—especially when change is needed in corners of the film world less widely considered. Though we as a collective society tend to focus our attention on the wrongs of those in the spotlight, this kind of behind-the-scenes work is what truly makes a foundational difference. Organizations like the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and TIME’S UP Entertainment are dedicated to turning that spotlight onto the hidden ills of the entertainment industry, ignoring dramatics in favour of structural transformation.

Famed film critic Pauline Kael once said that “film criticism is exciting just because there is no formula to apply… you must use everything you are and everything you know.” It would thus be fair to say that film criticism as a profession must strive to be as non-formulaic as possible. Out with homogenous points of view; out with one-sided responses. There exists a multiplicity of critics using everything they are and everything they know in order to bring a more nuanced, multi-faceted, and expansive view of film as an art form. Without their expressions and experiences, the true value of film criticism is skewed, and we risk further loss of films which may be just outside the margins of white, male opinion.

Sarah Bakke currently interns at WIFTV, where she gets to write all kinds of film-related material––a cinephile’s dream! When she’s not scribbling film notes or watching movies, Sarah can be found at The Cinematheque as a weekend theatre manager.

Indigenous Storytelling and Screenwriting Seminar for the Thompson-Nicola District

We are excited to announce two upcoming Indigenous Storytelling and Screenwriting Seminars to take place in Kamloops on October 27th and Enderby on October 28th.

In an effort to increase the participation of Indigenous women in the film industry, WIFT-V launched, in August 2017, a Vancouver program called Tricksters and Writers. The successful program offered master classes to 13 women, and further developed the screenplays of six writers through story editing sessions and actor table read workshops.

We are now seeking to design and implement a similar program for the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.  In order to develop a program that meets the needs of Indigenous women in this community, WIFT-V is inviting Indigenous women with an interest in screenwriting to one of two seminars: October 27th at Thompson River University in Kamloops and October 28th at the Splatisn Community Centre in Enderby. The seminars will be led by Doreen Manual and Petie Chalifoux and will include conversations around storytelling and cultural authenticity as well as a film screening.

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From Left to right: Petie Chalifoux & Doreen Manuel

WIFT-V is excited to expand the program into the Thompson-Nicola Regional District and is grateful for the support of TELUS STORYHIVE and The Thompson Nicola Film Commission, who have made this possible. Read the full press release here.

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A recap of WIFTV’s submission to the CRTC

 

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Sharon & Susan at the CRTC making submissions on behalf of WIFTV members and supporters.

This is an edited version of an email I sent to WIFTV members and supporters. If you would like to become a WIFTV member, please click here. To subscribe to receive occasional updates like this in your inbox, please click here. 

Barely a week ago, I listened via live stream from my Vancouver office as WIFTV board members and advocacy leads, Sharon McGowan and Susan Brinton, made a presentation to the CRTC in Ottawa on behalf of our members and supporters.

In a nutshell, WIFTV traveled to Ottawa to challenge the Commission’s selective enforcement of the Broadcasting Act. Specifically, section 3.1.d.3, which stipulates that the Canadian broadcasting system should:

“…through its programming and the employment opportunities arising out of its operations, serve the needs and interests, and reflect the circumstances and aspirations, of Canadian men, women and children, including equal rights, the linguistic duality and multicultural and multiracial nature of Canadian society and the special place of aboriginal peoples within that society.”

Despite the above, there has never been a Commission policy to support Canadian women’s aspirations and rights to equal opportunities in the productions triggered by Canadian broadcasters, or in the creative personnel who receive employment through those productions.

This being the case, Sharon and Susan challenged the Commission to do the following:

  • By March 2017, develop, file, and begin implementing a plan to achieve 50/50 gender equity in key creative positions of director, writer and producer across its programs of national interest programming by 2020;
  • Implement accurate metrics that track and compare male and female participation in the key creative roles annually and over the three year period; and
  • Present an evaluation report of the 3-year plan in 2020.

The commissioners responded with genuine interest and concern and, less than 24 hours later, I listened again as, using notes from WIFTV’s submission, they challenged broadcasters’ on the lack of gender equity in the key creative positions on the productions they license. The broadcasters were caught off guard and did not have good answers to these concerns.

Colleagues, this is the first time in decades, if ever, that these issues were raised in license renewal hearings.

Though we do not yet know the outcome of the hearing, given the response our presentation received, WIFTV made an obvious impact at the highest level of policy development in the Canadian film and television industry.

I truly believe that with the momentum of the National Film Board, Telefilm, and the CBC’s recent announcements, we are closer than ever to getting to gender parity in Canadian programming, but we will continue to need voices like WITFV’s at the table.

I urge you to read Sharon and Susan’s submission to the CRTC and, if you are moved as I was, I hope you’ll join me in publicly thanking and congratulating Sharon and Susan on WIFTV’s Facebook or Twitter for their hard work and generosity.

If you have not recently had the chance to, I’d like to invite you to chip in to support this work.  

Our advocacy work, including Sharon and Susan’s work and travel on WIFTV’s behalf has been 100% volunteer-led and funded. These efforts will continue in 2017, but with nominal financial contributions from our members and supporters – people like you – we can increase their frequency and impact. With your support, WIFTV can continue to bring the voices and perspectives of our members to forums as crucial as the Commission is proving to be.

Please chip in what you can here: http://www.womeninfilm.ca/donate.html.

As always, thank you for all the ways you support Women in Film and Television Vancouver and our mission.

By Sarah Kalil, President
Women in Film and Television Vancouver

WIFTV announces #VIWIFF2016 Festival Awards

The exhilarating week that marked the 11th Annual Vancouver Int’l Women in Film Festival (#VIWIFF2016) kicked off with a bang on International Women’s Day, March 8. The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) chose our venue to announce its groundbreaking initiative that 50 per cent of future NFB productions will be directed by women.

The festival week that ensued featured a plethora of films created by women from all over world, and offered numerous opportunities for networking and professional development.

The festival came to a close on Sunday, March 13, with the annual awards gala. Continue reading

NFB Announces Gender Equality Initiative at #VIWIFF2016

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From left: Sharon McGowan, Rina Fraticelli, Claude Joli-Coeur, Karen Day, Susan Brinton

Women in Film + Television Vancouver is proud to have provided the venue for the groundbreaking announcement by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) in Vancouver on this International Women’s Day, March 8, 2016.

Coinciding with the start of the 11th Annual Vancouver International Women in Film Festival, Government Film Commissioner and NFB Chairperson Claude Joli-Coeur announced that at least half of its productions will be directed by women and half of all production spending will be allocated to films directed by women. Continue reading

From Our Dark Side Announces 2016 Winners

DarkSide-website_0000_headerWomen In Film + Television Vancouver’s (WIFTV) is delighted to announce the 2016 From Our Dark Side Genre Concept Competition and Mentorship winners!

The competition closed submissions on January 4th, 2016 with over 150 entries from across the country. Once again, women writers sent a powerful message that there is a large, untapped talent pool in Canada and a desire for more female-driven genre stories on our screens.

“We are very happy to be a part of this innovative initiative,” said Melissa Kajpust, Head of Creative Development for Super Channel. “We strongly support projects that advance the voices of women filmmakers in the industry and genre films are something we embrace on Super Channel, so this competition is a perfect fit.” Continue reading

Gender as Performance: the playful photography and life of Rosamond Norbury

Documentary filmmaker Joella Cabalu has a first look at WIFTV Board member Sharon McGowan’s upcoming documentary Bearded Ladies: the Photography of Rosamond Norbury, which will premiere at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival on August 18th.
***Update: The film will also screen at #VIWIFF2016 on Wednesday March 9th at 3:30 PM***

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Rosamond Norbory’s “Ismail” (aka past WIFTV board member Barbara Alexandre)

When was the last time you played?

As adults, we play league sports and Settlers of Catan but when was the last time you played “dress-up”? For women who want to dress-up as sexy, sultry, ultrafeminine versions of themselves there’s boudoir photography. And of course, there’s also Halloween – another reason to dress-up as a sexy, sultry, ultrafeminine version of a character or inanimate object (sexy Crayola Crayon, seriously?).

But how about dressing up as a male persona?
That’s not sexy at all for women, but it can be fun and silly! Such whimsy glows from the photography of Rosamond Norbury, the main subject of Sharon McGowan‘s documentary Bearded Ladies. Continue reading