Collaborating with Women In Film and Television Vancouver
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -March 2019: Four western-based women directors have been selected to partake in the next edition of the WIDC Career Advancement Module (CAM) slated to take place during the Vancouver International Women In Film Festival, March 5 to 10, 2019. Aiming to generate career momentum while they develop pitch materials for their next screen projects are BC-based filmmakers Michelle Brezinski, Monique Hurteau, Jean Parsons and Alberta-based action director, Suza Singh.
Each of these talented and award-winning directors is developing multiple projects for the screen, including an action Western television series by Singh; a feature-length thriller about a family’s secret past by Hurteau; and two concept dramas, one about a woman overcoming sexual harassment in the iron industry by Brezinski; and a sexual coming of age story by Parsons. These story-tellers promise to bring a host of new characters and new perspectives to the large and small screen.
Other Canadian directors that have spring-boarded their careers forward through the CAM include Kate Green, whose sci-fi web series NarcoLeap was recently nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for Best Web series; Siobhan Devine, who has since won ‘Best Direction’ awards and nominations for her debut feature film The Birdwatcher and television series Package Deal; and Winnifred Jong, whose comedic web series Tokens was WIDC’s nominee for the Telefilm Canada Talent to Watch program and recently launched.
WIDC co-creator and producer, Dr. Carol Whiteman facilitates the CAM, with VP Marketing and Distribution, A-71 and V-71 Susan Curran as Guest Mentor. Beginning with intensive WIDC master classes prior to the Vancouver International Women In Film Festival, WIDC director participants also meet with industry experts, Project STORYHIVE Manager Smita Acharyya, Telefilm Canada’s, Interim Western Regional Feature Film Executive, Steve Bates, as well as Digital Media Marketing Strategist Annelise Larson who offer insights into navigating career paths and connecting screen projects with the market place. At the end of the week, each director sets strategic career goals then meets for one to one coaching with Whiteman once a month for the three months following the workshop to keep up the momentum generated during the festival.
The next deadline for director applications for a CAM session will be April 15, 201(. That session will take place at the Female Eye Film Festival, June 24 to 30, 2019, at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox.
Director bios here.
Growing up in the small northern Canadian town of Yellowknife Brezinski learned the value of understanding each other. Never believing in an “us and them” world, she adored her community’s diversity and often engaged in storytelling in order to get through those long cold winter months. She discovered honesty, community and optimism were key and so as a filmmaker she aims to infuse those qualities into her films, whether a drama, comedy or documentary. She studied screenwriting at the University of British Columbia, Digital Film Studies at Langara College and was mentored by Shaw Media as an Access Producer. She has completed several short films, 2 episodes of an original 1-hour sitcom, produced and directed a community TV show (Soccer Time) and recently finished a short documentary featuring her hometown of Yellowknife. Brezinski’s films have screened at festivals all over the world and garnered awards including Madness which won a Vancouver Women in Film and TV Spotlight Image Award. She is currently focusing her storytelling at changing out-dated societal norms.
“My mother was a strong role model who fought hard for women’s equality but passed away too soon in 1982. So, I am proud to continue her activism and hope to change even a small part of history.”
Monique Hurteau’s interdisciplinary practice spans from writing, Film/TV, stand-up comedy to painting and visual arts. Even her writing crosses diverse mediums and spaces including the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, the Indigenous Music Awards (APTN) and most recently CBC’s The Debaters. Monique also wrote produced + co-directed, the 2016 documentary Chasing Lear (APTN) including all aspects of the convergent DM components. Additionally, she wrote the pilot and series bible as well as did the graphic design for the docu-series Mischif Men (APTN) which is still in development. Monique augments her ongoing self-study with formal training in directing, screenwriting, producing, editing, voiceover and film distribution. Throughout her body of work, Monique explores her own complex cultural history and identity while challenging and purposely disrupting societal and cultural norms. She has recently been working with the Winnipeg-based production company Eagle Vision.
Jean is an award-winning writer, director and producer whose work has screened in cities across Canada, Europe and the Americas. Her most recent film, Memory of the Peace was the winner of the Matrix Award for Outstanding Achievement at the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival 2018. She has pitched at forums including the Sheffield DOC/FEST and is the co-founder of film arts collective ‘self-directed studies.’ The collective’s first film, CABBIE, was the recipient of the BC Ignite Award for Outstanding Female Key Creative at VIFF 2016. Her work explores the boundaries of perception and identity–and looks at systemic, political issues through the lens of deeply personal stories about individuals. Jean was the recipient of the Telus STORYHIVE 100K grant, with which she produced her first series, In Chinatown. It aired on Telus Optik in July 2018 to wide acclaim. Summer 2018, she flew to South America to direct a short essay film about the complexities of conservation in the Madre de Dios rainforest region of Peru, to be completed in Spring 2019. Most recently, Jean was funded by the Canada Council for the Arts to direct a scripted short currently titled Spring Tide.
Suza has a passion for film and takes it upon herself to understand every aspect and complexity of filmmaking. She uses film as a social platform to bring attention to injustices in the world, but in an entertaining way. She likes to highlight the Zeitgeist of the moment and create interesting and intricate stories around them. Her mission statement is to create film projects that reflect the diversity of life as she experiences it. Acutely aware of the lack of diversity in many programs she explicitly looks for opportunities to flip the narrative from traditional story tellers. She began her passion for theatre putting on performances for parents in the neighborhood. She would collect all the local children to organize plays and concerts. It is here where her love for theatre and acting began. She worked in the UK on a BBC Workshop covering television and radio. She studied drama in school and considered going to film school but was advised to take a real job. Suza recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from former President Barack Obama of the United States. She recently produced a Martial Arts Movie which features such legends as Tony Sirico, of the Soprano’s, Legendary Martial Arts Master, of IP Man fame Lo Meng and Emmy Award-winner James Lew. She was awarded Martial Arts Movie Producer of the year in 2018 in Venice Italy at the Martial Hero Awards. She took an interest in Martial Arts over twenty years ago and studied a number of different disciplines. She participated at National Level in Scotland to receive gold at her very first competition. She was also selected to train with the British basketball team in the UK having been spotted by the US National coach. Her love for Martial Arts and theatre were a natural merging of these skills. She has learned the trades of film-making and believes that as a filmmaker she should take a holistic approach to the art of filmmaking. She has studied great filmmakers and completed courses with Werner Hertzog, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard and Jodie Foster. Werner Hertzog was the inspiration for her recent feature Replecan, that has just secured distribution on Amazon.
ABOUT WIDC – Founded in 1997, Women In the Director’s Chair (WIDC) is an internationally respected Canadian professional development offering, specially designed to advance the skills, careers and fiction screen projects of women directors. With 250+ director alumnae across Canada, who have earned over 100 awards and nominations for their work this year alone, over the last twenty-two years WIDC has fostered the development of a generation of women screen directors. WIDC is presented with major support from Telefilm Canada and ACTRA, and with the participation of the Canada Council for the Arts | Conseil des Arts du Canada, Actra Fraternal Benefit Society, ACTRA National, TELUS STORYHIVE, Creative BC, UBCP/ACTRA, Independent Production Fund, ACTRA Alberta.
WIDC appreciates community collaborations with 1st Weekend Club’s Canada Screens, National Film Board of Canada, WIFT Vancouver’s International Women In Film Festival, Female Eye Film Festival, St John’s International Women’s Film Festival, Winnipeg Film Group, Crazy 8’s, TIFF, and the Whistler Film Festival.
WIDC Feature Film Award is supported by William F. White International, Panavision Canada, Sim, Keslow Camera, Encore Vancouver, Technicolor Toronto, Skylab Vancouver, Poste Moderne, Walters Lighting & Grip, North Shore Studios, The Bridge Studios, Vancouver Film Studios, The Research House Clearance Services Inc., MELS Studios, Front Row Insurance, White Hart Post Production, and Descriptive Video Works, National Captioning Canada, Line 21.