FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November, 2019 – Toronto, ON – Organizers of Canada’s Women In the Director’s Chair (WIDC) program are pleased to announce the four directors selected to take part in the 2019 Toronto Career Advancement Module presented during the 17th annual Female Eye Film Festival, November 7 to 10, 2019 at the Scotiabank Cinema and Hyatt Hotel downtown.

Each of the four directors are developing original feature films that they plan to direct, including Lora Campbell originally from St John’s, Newfoundland who is developing the comedy, Let’s Do This; producer crossing over to directing, Jessica Petelle developing Age of Dysphoria, a drama based on her recent short; sci-fi, horror, fantasy filmmaker, Ashlea Wessel is developing Perpetua exploring the addictive dark side of social media; and ZhiMin Hu is developing a mother-daughter drama fantasy Under the Red Umbrella.

The mentor director for this session is celebrated Canadian filmmaker, Mina Shum. Shum has directed five feature films including the recent Meditation Park.  She is also this year’s recipient of the Female Eye Film Festival Honorary Director Award and will be feted November 7th during a Best in the Biz tribute moderated by WIDC’s co-creator and producer, Dr. Carol Whiteman prior to the Festival’s Opening Night Gala at the Scotiabank Theatre downtown. Whiteman and Deb Day (Innovate by Day) will present master class sessions on leadership, marketing and promotion. Industry guests include Dan Lyon (Telefilm Canada), Andra Sheffer (Independent Production Fund), Alan Bacchus (Bell Media, Harold Greenberg Fund).

The WIDC program receives major funding support from Telefilm Canada. This session of the CAM is presented in collaboration with the Female Eye Film Festival. The next CAM deadline will be January 15, 2020 for the session March 3 to 8, 2020 in Vancouver.

2019 WIDC CAM – Toronto Director Participants

Lora Campbell is a transgender non-binary Canadian Screen Award-nominated content creator and educator from Newfoundland, Canada who has been creating award-winning projects for over a decade. A graduate of the Canadian Film Centre, National Screen Institute and Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative Film 5 Program, their production company, Waterford Valley Pictures, focuses on exploring stories from underrepresented voices with a focus on Queer storytelling. With over a dozen award-winning shorts under their belt that have played over 200 festivals across the globe, Campbell dove into the comedy world, producing and directing over 150 digital episodes for The Beaverton Digital in 2017From there they created, directed and produced numerous digital series including #interns, Yoga 101Soul Decision ComedySwings,Super Care and othersIn 2018, their feature film, 40 Acres, was selected for the Telefilm Talent to Watch Program and they were awarded two rounds of funding at the Harold Greenberg Fund for development on this film, as well as their feature directorial debut Let’s Do This.

Zhimin Hu, an award-winning filmmaker, is fascinated by stories that explore human nature, psychology, and social aspects. She has demonstrated great success working with non-actors and children. With her experience in multi-genre filmmaking, she has grown into a cross-genre storyteller who combines elements from fiction, experimental film, and documentary. Her films have been presented in many international and local film festivals, including the Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner, Fantasia Film Festival, Victoria Film Festival, Montreal World Film Festival, and the CBC FaceOff Short Film Competition. One of her film, I’m Waiting for Mama, won the Best Canadian Short Film Award at Regina International Film Festival and Award; Sophie’s Letter won a Special Mention Award at TopShorts Film Festival; A Cold Summer Night was collected by BAnQ (Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec) for circulation. Her 6-episodes TV documentary series, Love is Color Blind, are broadcasted on Bell Fibe. She was also a film critic for a Chinese weekly newspaper and a jury member for the 2012 Amérasia Film Festival.

Jessica Petelle has over fifteen years of experience as a producer of award-winning independent film, television, music video, interactive and digital content for advertising and entertainment. The short film All Good marked her directorial debut and premiered at the Palm Springs Intl’ Short Fest. As a digital content producer, she recently worked with Merman to produce the award-winning interactive digital film Outage for IBM. Other clients include work for Volkswagen, Comedy Central,, Fox, SyFy, BlackBoxTV among others. Over the past several years, she has felt the embrace of the vibrant filmmaking community in Canada, dedicating time and talent toward international co-production working alongside partner, Director/Executive Producer, Brad Turner. She has served as a production consultant on FOX’s Wayward Pines, and SYFY/SPACE Channel series Bitten, as a Co- Producer for two seasons of The Shannara Chronicles for Viacom, and as a Co-Executive Producer for the upcoming Netflix Original Series,VWars, starring Ian Somerhalder and Adrian Holmes. Jessica is a member of the Producers Guild of America, Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, and Women In

Ashlea Wesselis a filmmaker hailing from Toronto, Canada. Wessel’s films use elements of horror, sci-fi and fantasy as a framwork to explore themes of social, political and personal upheaval. She tells her stories using arresting visual style that couples stark realism with a phantasmagoric flair. Her award-winning short film Ink is now available online and she celebrated the world premiere of her sophmore film Tick at Fantasia in 2018, followed by numerous screenings around the world. Ashlea is taking her third short, Daughter of Babel to festivals 2019.

About WIDC
Women In the Director’s Chair (WIDC) is an internationally respected Canadian professional development offering, founded in 1997 through an initial collaboration among ACTRA, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and Women In Film and Television Vancouver. WIDC is specially designed to advance the skills, careers and fiction screen projects of women directors. With 260 director alumnae across Canada who have directed 100’s of hours of quality screen entertainment, WIDC is presented with major support from Telefilm Canada, CBC Films, and appreciates the participation and support of ACTRA National, UBCP-ACTRA, Actra Fraternal Benefit Society, and ACTRA Alberta, Creative BC, Independent Production Fund, as well as in kind support from, Panavision Canada, SIM Group, Poste Moderne, Keslow Camera Film and Digital, William F. White Intl., Walters Lighting & Grip, North Shore Studios, Encore Vancouver, Technicolor Toronto, Skylab Vancouver, White Hart Productions, The Bridge Studios, Vancouver Film Studios, The Research House Clearances Inc, Descriptive Video Works, Front Row Insurance, National Captioning Canada; Line-21, and community collaborations with 1st Weekend Club, WIFT Vancouver’s International Women In Film Festival, Female Eye Film Festival, St John’s International Women’s Film Festival, and the Whistler Film Festival.

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