Oct 16, 2014
By Michael Kramer
An urgent call for gender equality – when it comes to getting government money for Canadian screen projects.
At this week’s Women’s International Film Festival in St. John’s – 14 leaders of women’s media organizations and unions gathered – to say that big budget film and tv productions are still overwhelmingly dominated by men – even though women make-up half of new filmmakers.
The women’s industry forum told listeners that in 2013 – only 6 percent of Telefilm Canada’s feature film funding – went to movies directed by women.
A number of recommendations were brought forward, including: tying public investment in media industries – to a requirement for annual reporting on gender balance.
The summit also called for a yearly report on gender and racial representation as a part of applications and delivery requirements – for funding of Canadian screen projects.
University of British Columbia film professor Sharon McGowan wants agencies such as The National Film Board and Telefilm Canada to demand that producers have gender equity plans in place, before they get any public money – and those plans must guarantee jobs to women on the project.
McGowan says those public agencies used to observe gender equity guidelines for in-house productions but that changed 20 years ago – when they moved to a grant-giving system.
And Kay Armitage – a former programmer at The Toronto International Film Festival says it’s high-time that Canada follow the example of Britain and Sweden – countries that have spelled out gender equity guidelines – for films qualifying for public funding.