FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 25, 2018: Organizers of the Women In the Director’s Chair program are pleased to announce the four directors selected to take part in the WIDC Career Advancement Module (CAM) at the Female Eye Film Festival, June 25 to July 1, 2018.
Aiming to generate career momentum while they develop pitch materials for their next screen fiction projects ON-based filmmakers Joyce Wong whose debut feature Wexford Park has been winning festival awards; Turkish-Canadian short-filmmaker Sibel Guvenc, and Directors Guild of Canada member, Vanessa Shah, and BC-based filmmakers Meeshelle Neal whose Leo Award-winning short film Mental screens at the festival, (all pictured above).
Telefilm Canada, provides major funding support for WIDC. This session of the CAM is presented in collaboration with the Female Eye Film Festival, and with the participation of the Independent Production Fund.
Carol Whiteman facilitates the CAM, with MCE executive producer Marina Cordoni is the CAM’s lead mentor. Beginning with intensive master classes in Vancouver WIDC director participants meet with industry experts Andra Sheffer, Independent Production Fund, and Dan Lyon, Telefilm Canada, as well as WIDC alumnae directors who offer insights into navigating career paths. As part of the CAM, directors have access to film screenings, panels and additional one to one meetings with industry at the Female Eye Film Festival. At the end of the intensive week, each director sets strategic career goals then meets for one on one coaching once a month for the three months following the workshop to keep up the momentum generated during the festival.
Other Canadian directors that have spring-boarded their careers forward through the CAM include ON filmmakers Gloria Ui Young Kim who won the WIDC Feature Film Award for her debut feature film Debra & Mona; Winnifred Jong, whose new web series Tokens was selected for the 2017 Telefilm MicroBudget program now known as Talent to Watch and BC-based Kate Green whose Independent Production Fund and TELUS STORYHIVE funded web series Narcoleap launches July 9, 2018.
The next WIDC deadline is June 30, 2018 for the WIDC Feature Film Award.
Director bios and backgrounder follow.
Director Participants (in alphabetical order)
Sibel Guvenc is an award winning and internationally acclaimed Turkish – Canadian director, writer and producer based in Toronto. Graduated from OCAD University, Sibel was selected to various prestigious programs in Canada including TIFF Talent Lab, Women in Director’s Chair, Telefilm Producer Trainee Program and Telefilm Producers without Borders Berlinale Coproduction Market. In her films, Sibel is interested in exploring existentialist psychology, issues of power control, justice and future possibilities in science and technology. She portrays strong women characters in their search for self, overcoming social and psychological restrictions. Her short film Hungarian Salami was nominated for Best Comedy at the 60th Yorkton Golden Sheaf Awards in Canada and was considered for Canada’s Top Ten Shorts by Toronto International Film Festival Group. Her acclaimed film “In the Penal Colony” based on Franz Kafka’s short story received Best Cinematography and Best Art Film awards. Sibel also received two times William F. White Proficiency in Film Prize, Best Jazz Film Award, Best WorldMusic Award and Best Abstract Film Award with her other films. Sibel is currently doing her MFA in film production at York University and her recently completed dark comedy short film Turkish Mesir Macunu is nominated to Student Academy Awards for Oscars by York University Film Department.
Meeshelle ‘Meesh’ Neal is a Vancouver based filmmaker. Her short films have won Leo Awards as well as awards at festivals including: Women In Film, Covellite, Short Circuit: Pacific Rim, Female Eye and many others. Recently, she directed the narrative shorts: Check and Ladies Don’t Wear Slacks (nominated for: cinematography, sound design, performance, and best film). Meeshelle first stepped onto the scene as an actor | writer | producer. She adapted Mental to the screen from her one-woman show. Mental received BravoFACT funding as well as multiple awards, and international recognition. Together with Jax Smith, she co-owns the company ‘M&J Productions Inc.’ where they have several TV series and feature films at various stages of development. Along with making films, Meeshelle is an author. Her young adult, dark fantasy, novella Betwixt is set to hit shelves in the summer of 2018. Meeshelle was selected to attend the STORYHIVE Career Accelerator Program in 2017 and the Women In the Director’s Chair (WIDC) Career Advancement Module in 2018. Through the WIDC she is developing her magical realism, sci-fi fantasy, feature Sweet Release.
Vanessa Shah immigrated to Canada in the late 60’s and grew up in a blue-collar factory area in Toronto’s west end. She studied journalism at Ryerson, photo darkroom studies at George Brown and used those skills to move into graphics and magazine design. A casual meeting with someone in film, took her in a new direction, one that has formed a melting pot for all her creative skills in Toronto’s film and television Industry. She is a full member of the Directors Guild of Canada, works regularly for the OMDC, and has had the privilege of working in key crew positions with some of the world’s top talents in the industry, including the producers of Star Trek, Alias Grace and The Handmaid’s Tale. Vanessa produced and directed her first (trilogy) of shorts, The Family Next Door, recognized by from TVO in 2016 as a top ten winner in their short film contest. Her first film aired multiple times on TVO and can be viewed on their website. She has recently completed Decay Nation, a short doc showcasing the beauty of nature’s strength in reclaiming a decaying urban environment.
Joyce Wong is an award-winning director and writer based in Toronto. She is an alumna of the 2008 Berlinale Talent Campus, the 2016 TIFF Talent Lab and was names one of CBC’s 17 for 17 great Canadian filmmakers of the future. Her debut narrative feature Wexford Plaza screened in competition at Slamdance in 2017, was nominated for the Toronto Film Critics Association’s Best Canadian Film Award, the John Dunning Discovery Award by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, and was awarded the Comcast Best Narrative Feature Award by the Centre for Asian American Media in San Francisco. Her previous film include The Power of Love, a short documentary about Celine Dion fans in Kenya that premiered at Hot Docs in 2011, Gentrification Guilt Meter, an interactive installation completed during a residency at Brooklyn’s Uniondocs Centre for Documentary Arts, Embodying Toronto, which won WIFT-T’s Most Innovative Film by a Female Director Award at the Toronto Urban Film Festival 2009, and Souvenirs From Asia, which won Reelworld Film Festival’s Outstanding Canadian Short Award in 2008. Her work has been supported by the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.