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

“A personal obligation to share these stories”: Joella Cabalu and the making of her documentary It Runs in the Family

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Still of It Runs in the Family

Nestled in the back corner of a cozy café on a crisp Saturday morning, I sat down with filmmaker Joella Cabalu to talk about her recent documentaries, StandStill (2013) and It Runs in the Family (2015). We spoke for nearly two hours in what felt more like a friendly conversation than an interview, as Joella shared her emotional journey in the making of both her films. As we sipped our coffees, Joella explained the barriers she faced with tackling a story as personal as the coming out of her brother, but also touched on the rewarding nature of documentary filmmaking.

In 2007, Joella’s brother, Jay, came out to her. Joella recalls, “when Jay came out to me, it was one of those circumstances that was almost surreal – I had to balance being a supportive sister with not letting shock read on my face.” At the time, she was finishing up her art history degree at UBC. She was the first person Jay had told in her family, and she knew that Jay would have a difficult time coming out to the rest of the family, given their Roman Catholic upbringing and Filipino background.

When Joella started studying film at Langara College’s Documentary Film Production program, she began to form a narrative in her mind about Jay’s coming out and its impact on her family. She knew she had to make a 10-minute project as her graduate film. “I knew going into school, I wanted to make essentially what would become StandStill. But really what I wanted to make was It Runs in the Family,” Joella explains to me. She knew the 10-minute short would be a good start to tackling a longer film.

Jay Cabalu

Jay Cabalu

Joella constantly checked in with her brother throughout the writing stages of the film. “For him, it was going to be challenging, having to dig up all of those feelings again,” Joella says. Soon after, she and Jay set out on a journey to track down other queer family members in both North America and the Philippines. As she and Jay got to know their relatives more, they began to think that Jay was not so different from the rest of his family after all. “We’re trying to create this space to have this conversation and normalize it,” she explained.

Joella’s allyship to the LGBTQ+ community, her willingness to be vulnerable, and her empathy towards differing perspectives give the film a sense of maturity and completeness. It neither judges nor is assuming of other identities on the subject of LGBTQ+ rights. The story unfolds organically and both she and Jay are self-reflective in their interviews and encounters with family.

One of Joella’s major moments of reflection was when director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) asked during a screening of a rough cut, why should I care about Jay? Joella realized that the objective of her film was not to portray Jay as a gay person, but as a person – period. “People really became interested in who Jay was when they saw his art,” she explains. Because of this, Joella held a second interview with Jay and included footage of him making his art. This new addition provided a beautiful juxtaposition between Jay collaging materials together on a canvas and piecing together stories of his queer family. In the film, Jay mentions that collaging is the sum of all of his experiences. And so, Joella found the missing piece to complete her film.

“I feel that being the race that I am, and having the background that I have – I immigrated here as a kid – and the gender that I am as well, I am very aware of the inequity in terms of representation in the media. I feel a personal obligation to share these stories. I want my contribution to be unique and to add, for lack of a better word, diversity to the whole thing,” Joella explains.

As the production of It Runs in the Family came to an end, Joella had a very different outlook than when she started the film: “It made me think about why you need to declare to the world [your orientation]?” In traveling to a different culture and listening to her family’s stories and Jay’s feelings, Joella was able to gain a deeper understanding on these issues, and she felt rewarded in how, ultimately, they are family and they will love and accept each other no matter their identity. But most importantly, Joella advises documentary makers “try and find what it means for you” in order to really make the process worth it.

It Runs in the Family will have its hometown premiere at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival on Tuesday August 16th at 9:00 pm, International Village. Buy tickets here.

Joella

Joella Cabalu

It has screened all over North America, winning the Audience Choice Award at the Seattle Asian American Film Festival and special jury mention for social justice documentary at CAAMFest. It will have its Canadian television broadcast on OUTtv in October 2016.

By Zoe Arthur
Photos courtesy of Joella Cabalu

Zoe Arthur is a UBC film production student, minoring in gender, race, sexuality and social justice. She writes about social issues in a critical, feminist framework and aims to show how film can be a powerful tool for social change. 

From rough cut to festival: How WIFTV and the Film & Media Showcase helped me finish a film

By Sandra Ignagni

Sandra Ignagni Picture-3Once a month Vancouver filmmakers gather at the Film & Media Showcase to watch a selection of short and feature-length films in a casual and supportive environment. Co-hosted by three artist-focused British Columbia organizations – Women in Film + Television Vancouver, Cineworks and DOC BC – the event offers filmmakers an opportunity to screen their work and discuss their creative process – both successes and challenges.

Last summer, WIFTV selected my short documentary One Step at a Time: A Story About Women and Shoes for screening at the showcase. The film, a portrait of four young women in Toronto and Vancouver who are embarking on unconventional careers in the traditionally male-dominated fields of cobbling and shoemaking, was decidedly in rough-cut stage. Continue reading

11th Annual Vancouver International Women in Film Festival lineup

Women in Film and Television Vancouver (WIFTV) is delighted to announce the lineup for the 11th Annual Vancouver International Women in Film Festival, #VIWIFF2016, March 8th – 13th at VIFF’s Vancity Theatre.

Two local features, Siobhan Devine’s The Birdwatcher and Melanie JonesFSM, will have their hometown premieres.

Camille Sullivan as Saffron

Camille Sullivan as Saffron in The Birdwatcher

The Birdwatcher stars Camille Sullivan as a single mother diagnosed with cancer, who embarks on a journey to re-connect with her estranged birth mother, played by Gabrielle Rose.  Continue reading

A Match Made in Mentorship Heaven – Writer Christina Sicoli reports from the Whistler Film Festival

Opening Gala at the Whistler Film Festival

The Whistler Conference Centre is buzzing with activity come festival time.

There were more talented people than her but they quit. Don’t quit. Go back to your craft, back to your voice, but don’t quit.”–Meg LeFauve (Variety’s 10 Screenwriters To Watch).

THE MORNING AFTER. A cup of coffee, an over-stimulated body and a blog entry. I’ve been staring at my computer not knowing where to begin. But as I’m learning with most beginnings, they constantly shift and give birth to newer ones. So I asked myself, “What began for me with this new experience”?  Continue reading

Martini Madness 2015 – Party Wrap-Up

Talen Agent Esther Cohen at Martini Madness 2015

Talent Agent Esther Cohen at Martini Madness 2015

Well before the summer air turns crisp, filmmakers of all fields begin to plan for festival season. It’s a time of year when our consuming careers demand that we emerge out of the vortex of production and gather for an efficient dose of networking and reconnecting with friends and colleagues. Having old friends intermingled with new talent we have yet to meet provides us with a ripe and fertile circumstance; within which we get to expand our universes.

Our hometown film festival, the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) has become a celebration of West Coast talent within a vibrant international community. Women in Film and Television Vancouver continues to be involved with that in as many ways as we can imagine. 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***

Rosamond Norbory's

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

Elizabeth Yake presents environmental Doc Hadwin’s Judgement at Hot Docs

Doug Chapman is Grant Hadwin in Hadwin's Judgement

Doug Chapman is Grant Hadwin in Hadwin’s Judgement

Producer and WIFTV member Elizabeth Yake and Director Sasha Snow enter a controversial and relevant conversation with their documentary Hadwin’s Judgement, which premieres at the 2015 Hot Docs Festival. Continue reading