Women in View

October 24, 2012 09:00 ET

Women Vastly Under-Represented In Top Creative Positions in Canadian Films According to Report Women in View on Screen

Creative Leaders, including film and TV industry luminaries and promising new talent will discuss this at Merging Media Conference in Vancouver, Oct. 24-26

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Oct. 24, 2012) - This week, some of the brightest, most creative minds in film, television and theatre will be converging at this year's Merging Media Conference, Oct. 24 - 26, in Vancouver. Among them is Rina Fraticelli, Executive Director of Women in View, who just released an inaugural annual report called "Women in View on Screen". This report examines the representation of women in the roles of director and screenwriter in 130 Canadian feature films funded through Telefilm Canada and released in 2010 and 2011.

The report reveals that only 17 per cent of the 130 films released in 2010/2011 were directed by women; and a mere 21 per cent had female screenwriters. The results for visible minority and First Nations women were much worse, with only one director and two screenwriters. Women in View focused on directing and screenwriting in its initial report because of the impact these positions have in shaping the final film story, and the employment of the crew.

"The inequality is staggering, considering that more women than ever are participating in Canada's workforce," says Fraticelli. "Also, we know that having women in these key roles translates into more on-screen roles for women actors."

Fraticelli adds that a further consequence of excluding women, and especially women from First Nations and racialized minorities, is that our media industries are failing to take advantage of the wealth of stories that spring from Canada's rich cultural diversity. "Simply put, women's voices and stories are not being seen or heard as often as men's," she says.

To help close the gender gap in the film industry, Women in View recently launched a unique mentorship program called "Creative Leaders". Participants of the program, including some of the most promising creative and business minds in Canada, will be meeting to discuss their projects at the Merging Media conference this week. One of the women in this mentorship program is Vancouver's Lisa Jackson, named one of the top 10 people to watch by Playback magazine. She also won a 2010 Genie for Best Short Film.

Jackson is working with Kim Collier, which is an unusual protégée-sponsor relationship as Collier is a well-known theatre director who combines several forms of media in her work and Jackson is an award-winning First Nations filmmaker. Jackson's latest film, SNARE, premiered last weekend at Toronto's imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. Together, they are looking at hybrid forms which combine documentary, drama, media, and theatricality.

"I am interested in pushing the creative boundaries even further in my films, and Kim is a highly innovative theatre director, so I am hoping to learn more from her as I branch out into new territory," Jackson says. "This opportunity through the Creative Leaders program provides me with an opportunity to look deeper into Kim's process and learn from that."

They represent one of six pairs working together across Canada as part of the Creative Leaders mentorship program. The aim of this pilot project is to advance women into senior leadership positions in Canada's screen-based media industries by supporting partnerships between today's industry luminaries and the next generation of media leaders.

Inclusion of women and minorities in key creative roles in film makes a lot of economic sense. According to the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA), in 2011 the value of media industries to Canada's gross domestic product was $5.49 billion, representing 128,000 full-time jobs. Additionally, women represent 55 per cent of movie ticket purchasers.

"More than being an important economic engine, our media industries constitute one of the most significant forces shaping our national culture, as well as our individual identities and values," Fraticelli says. "To remain innovative and competitive, today's media organizations need a talent pool as diverse and demanding as its increasingly global public. "

Women in View is launching this series of annual reports in order to track trends in the Canadian film and television industry. In the United States, these employment trends have been tracked for years by Dr. Martha Lauzen through the Celluloid Ceiling project. Those figures are disheartening, showing that in 2011-2012 just five per cent of the top-grossing American films were directed by women.

Women in View on Screen will be followed in spring 2013 by Women in View on TV. Women in View will continue in its role as the national hub for information about Canadian women in media, with annual updates as well as intermittent reports on particular sectors and links to pertinent websites.

To view the report in its entirety, go to: www.womeninview.ca. Also, participate in discussions online using #WIVonscreen.

About Women in View:

Women in View is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering greater racial and gender equality on screen and behind-the-scenes of Canadian media, entertainment, and digital industries. Follow them on Twitter @womeninview and on Facebook.

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