FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 19, 2019 (Vancouver, BC) Women In the Director’s Chair (WIDC) organizers are pleased to announce the eight directors selected to develop their narrative feature films and series at the WIDC’s four-month Story & Leadership program that begins November 22 in Vancouver.

Tapped earlier this year for the Canadian Academy’s directors program for women, Kim Albright is polishing her feature With Love and a Major Organ set to go to camera in 2020 with Telefilm funding. And DGC BC District member Nimisha Mukerji is developing a new drama series Reign of Durga.

This year’s WIDC Story & Leadership cohort also includes UBCP-ACTRA members, Laura Adkin developing the drama Last Weekend and Camille Hollett-French with the psychological drama, A World Within. Multi-disciplinary artist, Monique Hurteau is developing a feature thriller, The Collection Box.

Montreal-based cinematographer/filmmaker Susanne Serres is developing the coming of age drama The Speed of Words, while Ontario-based directors Lana Slezic (The Legend of Pearl Hart) and Sarah Galea-Davis (The Players) develop their debut feature dramas.

Story & Leadership is led by multiple industry award-winner Dr. Carol Whiteman who produces and facilitates, as well as Mentor Director Siobhan Devine whose multi-award-winning debut feature The Birdwatcher bowed at WFF 2015. Her television work has received multiple awards including for CBC’s Kim’s Convenience. Instructors, writer and Jungian expert, Dr. Carolyn Mamchur, screenwriter / story consultant Linda Coffey (Never Steady, Never Still, Rustic Oracle), and actor and filmmaker, Lori Triolo (Blackstone, Lost Solace) return to lead sessions on leadership, story development, marketing and working with actors. Canadian cinematographers Amy Belling CSC (Ghosting, Songs She Wrote About People She Knows) and Thomas Billingsley CSC (Lost Solace) also joins the top-notch list of mentors as well as an ensemble of ACTRA actors.

Industry guests include Mehernaz Lentin (CBC Films), Lauren Davis (Telefilm Canada), Alan Bacchus (Bell Media’s Harold Greenberg Fund), Susan Curran (A-71), Andra Sheffer (Independent Production Fund), Smita Acharrya from TELUS STORYHIVE, Erika Kumar (Creative BC); Independent producers Lael McCall (Principia Productions), Sonya Di Rienzo (Hawkeye Pictures), Janal Bechthold (Screen Composers Guild of Canada), and WIDC Feature Film Award winning filmmaker, Gloria Ui Young Kim (Queen of the Morning Calm) participating in roundtables and one to one meetings.

WIDC Story & Leadership is presented with major support from Telefilm Canada, and the participation of ACTRA National, UBCP-ACTRA, Actra Fraternal Benefits Society, Creative BC, the Independent Production Fund, and ACTRA Alberta.

Parts 1 and 2 of the program run November 22 through December 8, 2019 and includes the WIDC Whistler Film Festival Industry Immersion, that offers a first-class industry environment during the fest’s four-day run that includes WFF’s re-branded Women In Focus series. Parts 3 and 4 include follow up career coaching and story development for an additional three months after the face to face sessions.


2019 Story & Leadership Directors (in alphabetical order by last name)

Laura Adkin (BC) – Weekend Reunion (feature film)
Laura Adkin is a writer, director and actor from Vancouver, BC. Trained at the East 15 Acting School, London, the Stella Adler Acting Conservatory in Los Angeles and numerous schools in Vancouver including Capilano U’s film program, in 2013, Laura began writing and producing. She has directed 4 short films: Road to Pyeongchang (2015); The Goodnight Kiss (2016); The Ride Home (2018) and Abandoned (2018) that have screened internationally. She has mentored through Disney & Omni Films Director Shadow program for Mech X-4 and WIDC. A die-hard hockey fan, when not creating or teaching, she can be found at Rogers Arena cheering on her Vancouver Canucks.

Kim Albright (BC) – With Love and a Major Organ (feature film)
Canadian- British, half Filipino director Kim Albright is featured on the British Film Institute (BFI) Upshot Program, showcasing “the most exciting emerging UK filmmaking talent.” Four of her six shorts were supported by Film London and the BFI. With a recent Best Director award at the Scinema International Film Festival, Australia, her shorts have competed worldwide, including at BAFTA and Oscar-qualifying festivals. She just secured Telefilm financing for her debut feature, With Love And A Major Organ. Kim is alumna of the Canadian Film Centre Director’s Lab where she completed her sixth short, Me, Again soon to be on the festival circuit. The short has inspired a web series, currently in development. Kim also directs music videos and commercials for clients including New Era, Mars and Skittles. Her Dr. Pepper ‘Chatroulette’ spot clocked up over 1 million hits on YouTube.

Sarah Galea-Davis (ON) – The Players (feature film)
Working in both fiction and documentary, writer/director Sarah Galea-Davis’ award-winning films employ a stunning realism, examining challenging characters without sentimentality or judgment. Her fiction credits include the short films Berlin, Can You Wave Bye-Bye? and An Apartment. Each premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and played at festivals internationally. Her documentary work has been commissioned by Tate Media, CBC, MSNBC, Logo and Canada Council for the Arts. An alumna of the Canadian Film Center’s Director’s Lab and the TIFF Talent Lab. Sarah’s work has been nominated for numerous awards including Canadian Screen Awards, Jutras and Golden Sheaf Awards. She won Best Film at the Worldwide Short Film Festival and a Quebec Critics’ award for Can You Wave Bye-Bye? She is currently in development on her first feature film drama, The Players.

Camille Hollett-French (BC) – A World Within (feature film)
Born in Montreal to a Newfie father and a Trinidadian mother, Camille Hollett-French studied acting at the Margie Haber Studio in LA and has appeared in television series including The 100, Valley of the Boom, Twilight Zone and Motherland. In 2017, she wrote, directed, produced and starred in the short film series, Her Story (In Three Parts) that was shot across the Canada. No. 2: Hush Little Baby, won Best Debut at the Discover Film Awards in London, as well as the Craghopper’s Film Prize, the world’s largest cash prize for an international short film, 20,000£. It was also the only short film script to win LiveRead/LA. Camille’s films have screened internationally winning special jury awards and multiple nominations at festival including the Awareness Film FestOslo Independent Film Festival and Best First Time Filmmaker award at the Women’s Film Festival.

Monique Hurteau (BC) – The Collection Box (feature film)
Monique Hurteaus 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 CBCs 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 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.

Nimisha Mukerji (BC) – Reign of Durga (series)
CSA nominee Nimisha Mukerji is a writer, director and producer whose work has been featured on OWN, HBO, Netflix and Nat Geo. Her biographical feature Tempest Storm is distributed by Mongrel Media; Blood Relative earned three CSA nominations including Best Direction Documentary; and 65_RedRoses, was acquired by Netflix and Hulu making her the only South Asian filmmaker selected by Oprah for her Documentary Club on OWN. Mukerji is overseeing post-production on the feature documentary Jacinta, which she is producing with the Academy Award-winning team behind Icarus (Impact Partners). Additional directorial credits include the teen sci-fi series MECH-X4 for Disney XD, Disney’s action comedy series Gabby Duran & the Unsittables and the film The Deep End for Hallmark’s flagship series Chronicle Mysteries. Mukerji is an alumna of TIFF’s Talent Lab and was the recipient of Women In View’s 2X More Program. She was awarded WIFTV’s Artistic Achievement Award in 2014 and is represented by the Kaplan Stahler Agency and Meridian Artists.

Susanne Serres (QC) – The Speed of Words (feature film)
Susanne Serres aspires to create powerful and emotional short and feature films and series in her career as a director. She studied cinema (CEGEP Ahuntsic), visual arts (Collège Bois-de-Boulogne), dramaturgy (coaching at Centre de création scénique), writing (Black Theatre Workshop) and photography (CFP Lachine). An alumna of the director program at INIS, she received the INIS Foundation Louise-Spickler Excellence Scholarship. In 2017, Susanne wrote and directed Zaya, which screened at film festival across the globe and received several awards including the prestigious Award of Merit for Best Short Film at the Best Shorts Competition, California; the One-Reeler Competition Award of Excellence, Los Angeles; the Best Cinematography at LGBT Toronto Film Festival and the Diamond Prize at the International Independent Film Awards, California. In 2019, Susanne’s INIS short film, Follow Me (Suis moi) was selected to air at ICI Tou.TV, a Canadian streaming platform for short films and series.

Lana Slezic (ON) – The Legend of Pearl Hart (feature film)
Award-winning Canadian photographer and filmmaker Lana Slezic has lived and worked all over the world including India, Turkey, Afghanistan and the UAE. Her body of photographic work has been published globally including National Geographic, TIME, Newsweek, Der Spiegel, MacLean’s, The Walrus and many more. She won a World Press Photo award for her portrait series on Afghan women entitled A Window Inside. Her book Forsaken earned international acclaim and was selected by American Photo Magazine as one of the Top Ten photo books of 2008. She has produced, directed and/or shot several commercial works and short documentaries, including Breaking Caste, Serhiy’s Story and The Little Things. Her short film Andy Barrie: The Voice is a candid portrait of former CBC radio host Andy Barrie’s struggle with Parkinson’s Disease and was featured at the 2016 Hot Docs Film Festival. Bee Nation, Lana’s first feature length documentary opened the 2017 Hot Docs Film Festival. When not traveling the world, Lana resides in Toronto, Canada, where she is raising her two beloved children.

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, 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, Crazy 8’s, 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. Contact: | | | @WIDC_ca | #WIDC

About Whistler Film Festival
From December 4 to 8, the Whistler Film Festival will welcome film fans and filmmakers to experience its 18th edition featuring 86 fresh films, special guests, epic events, unique industry initiatives, and time to play in North America’s premier mountain resort. The Whistler Film Festival combines an international film competition with a focused Industry Summit dedicated to the art and business of filmmaking in the digital age, complimented by 10 talent programs for over 50 Canadian artists. Find out more at

–  30 –