FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 2021: Women In the Director’s Chair organizers are pleased to announce the eight women directors selected to take part in the latest WIDC Career Advancement Module (CAM). This edition of the CAM marks a first-ever combined collaboration with two of Canada’s international women’s film festivals, the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival and the Female Eye Film Festival and runs through the month of March 2021. In addition to workshop sessions, participants receive passes to partake in both festivals’ online offerings and follow up career coaching extending through June 2021.
The eight women selected for the CAM include award-winning filmmakers from British Columbia and Ontario who are developing a diverse slate of scripted projects:
BC-based writer/director, Joy Haskell, currently in the writers room with her Indigenous comedy series, is developing her debut feature film, Cookies and Crack at the WIDC CAM while Gloria Mercer is developing a feature-length slow-burn feminist thriller called A Safe Distance. Mercer’s short film Hekademia recently won Best Sci-Fi at the Oscar-Qualifying Hollyshorts Film Festival.
The cohort also includes UBCP/ACTRA members, Panta Mosleh, developing a comedy series based on her short, Pass the Salt; Mayumi Yoshida, developing the feature version of her TELUS STORYHIVE-supported short, Akashi; and Camille Hollett-French whose latest award-winning short FREYA is an official selection of the VIWFF where it picked up additional accolades from the festival’s Best of the Fest awards. Hollett-French has multiple projects in development.
Ontario-based Tanya Lemke, named Best Emerging Short Filmmaker at the Fantasia International Film Festival for her short film Static, is developing a feature film coming-of-age drama called Chicken Scratch. Award-winning doc director, Shazia Javed’s latest 0ne-hour 3 Seconds Divorce is streaming on Netflix. She is developing the light-hearted scripted feature, Rebound Hina; and Sault St. Marie-based CFC alumna, Rebeka Herron is developing the social media-inspired feature, Armchair Traveler.
Due to COVID-19, this year all WIDC programs are being delivered online, beginning with a specially designed Equity, Diversity and Inclusion module led by scholar/ filmmaker Dr. Dorothy Christian Cucw-la7, PhD and Vision TV co-founder, Dr. Rita Shelton Deverell C.M., EdD who is also a WIDC alumna, and an intensive master class led by WIDC co-creator and producer, Dr. Carol Whiteman EdD. At the end of the intensive, directors set strategic career goals then meet for one to one coaching with Whiteman over three months of follow up.
The cohort will also meet with award-winning directors Sonia Bonspille Boileau (Rustic Oracle, Le Dep), Winnifred Jong (Tokens, Nurses, Coroner), and Karen Lam whose latest feature The Curse of Willow Song is screening at both VIWFF and FeFF.
Also joining a series of Zoom round tables to offer insights into navigating career paths and connecting screen projects with the market place are: Digital Media and Marketing Mentor, Annelise Larson and industry executives including Mehernaz Lentin (CBC Films), Matt Orenstein (Vortex Media) and Carly McGowan (Independent Production Fund), as well as Telefilm Canada.
Telefilm Canada, provides major funding support for WIDC. To address the financial challenges many women directors are facing as a result of the impacts of COVID-19, WIDC fees have been waived this year. This session of the CAM is presented in collaboration with Vancouver International Women in Film Festival and the Female Eye Film Festival– both presenting virtual editions.
Over one hundred other Canadian directors have used the WIDC CAM to help strategically spring-board their careers, including Lam and Jong as well as other award-winning directors Gloria Ui Young Kim (Queen of the Morning Calm) and Ruth Lawrence (Little Orphans) whose recent feature films continue to earn honors, and Lulu Keating (Lucille’s Ball) whose latest feature Klondike Kalahari is part of the VIWFF script development program.
ABOUT THE DIRECTORS
JOY HASKELL is an Indigenous Screenwriter and Director. She has a background in theatre, specializing in acting, singing and dancing. Joy created, wrote, directed and produced the comedy short HEY CUZZIN, starring Evan Adams, now being developed as a series with Mosaic Entertainment. Joy was Associate Story Editor on Ron E. Scott’s series “TRIBAL” on APTN. She is a past recipient of prestigious BANFF MEDIA FESTIVAL’s Diversity of Voices Initiative. Joy completed her first feature script COOKIES OR CRACK through the Women in Film and Television (Vancouver) Tricksters and Writers program and was granted a mentorship through WIFTV Vancouver to attend the Whistler Film Festival in December 2019 as part of their Film Market Preparation. This year she is part of the Women in Focus Series for WFF 2020. She recently started her own production company called Firediva Productions. Joy is currently developing a feature film and two TV Series.
REBEKA HERRON is an alumna of Capilano University’s Motion Picture Program, and the Cineplex Entertainment Film Program Producers’ Lab at the Canadian Film Centre. She is a notable member of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, and the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA). Rebeka worked in development for Brightlight Pictures before transitioning to the story department on several lifestyle and reality programs, including the award-winning series ICE PILOTS NWT, has directed and produced the original fitness series KISS MY INCOMING ABS (NOVUS TV), and recently finished directing the music video HONEY. Rebeka’s latest project about the sport ringette was chosen out of 9,000 submissions to be developed by CBC through their Covid-19 CBC Relief Fund. Rebeka currently works at Taqqut Productions, where she is their supervising line producer. Her credits at Taqqut include animated series UKALIQ & KALLA; stop-motion TV movie THE SHAMAN’S APPRENTICE directed by Inuit filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk; and UNNIKKATUAT, a four-part documentary series following the creation of a multimedia circus performance that was shot in Ontario, Quebec, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. Rebeka owns the production company Rusty Halo Productions, co-owns 180 Sisterhood Productions, co-owns Canadian distribution company Parallel Universe Pictures, and is co-founder of the Sault Film Festival.
CAMILLE HOLLETT-FRENCH is currently based in Vancouver. She was born in Montreal to a Newfie father and a Trinidadian mother. Starting out as an actor in shows like, THE TWILIGHT ZONE, VALLEY OF THE BOOM, MOTHERHOOD: FORT SALEM and NANCY DREW, Camille began her filmmaking career in 2017 when she wrote, directed, produced and acted in the short film series HER STORY (IN THREE PARTS). The script for NO.2: HUSH LITTLE BABY was the first short film script to win LiveRead/LA and received Best Debut at the Discover Film Awards in London, where it went on to win the Craghopper’s Film Prize valued at 20,000 Euros. The same festival later awarded NO. 3: IN THE ABSENCE OF ANGELS with Best Director and Best International drama. Camille’s films have also screened at festivals including Slamdance (for which she is now a programmer), The Awareness Film Festival (Special Jury Innovation Award), Oslo Independent Film Festival (Best Writer), Canadian Film Festival (Special Jury Award), Women’s Film Festival (Best First Time Filmmaker) and the Female Eye Film Festival, where all three parts of the HER STORY film series was screened as part of their inaugural International Women’s Day event at the TIFF Lightbox Theatre in Toronto. Camille was among the 2019 cohort of the Women In the Director’s Chair Story & Leadership program to develop her feature film script, MAN IN PIECES and was selected to further develop the same project at the 2020 Whistler Film Festival Producer’s Lab.
SHAZIA JAVED is an award-winning filmmaker and owner of LifeSketch Media Inc, a media production company based in Mississauga, Ontario. Her work has been broadcast on television internationally and screened at prestigious film festivals including Hot Docs, DOXA, Durban International, Reelworld and Mumbai International. Her projects have been supported by the National Film Board of Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and Edmonton Arts Council. Her films have won Audience Choice at Reelworld, and top awards from Mississauga Arts Council, and Visual Arts Mississauga. Shazia was also a finalist for three AMPIA (Alberta Media Production Industries Association) awards for her documentary, NAMRATA. Shazia’s work has been featured on BBC Radio, CBC National, Radio International-Canada, Times of India, and Hollywood North Magazine among other media platforms. She is listed among 11 outstanding filmmakers to watch in Our Front’s 2018 issue, and Playback’s 10 to Watch, 2020. Shazia has an MFA in Film, and is a graduate of Northern Alberta Institute of Technologies’ (NAIT) Certificate Program for Emerging Producers where she was selected to receive the ‘Most Promising Producer Award’. She is a recipient of DOC Breakthrough Development Award sponsored by the CBC, Ontario Creates, and Rogers Group of Funds. In 2020, she was selected to be a participant of Reelworld’s E20 Program. Shazia’s latest project, 3 SECONDS DIVORCE, a TV hour documentary is now streaming worldwide on Netflix.
TANYA LEMKE is an award-winning Canadian filmmaker with over twenty-five years of professional film and TV production experience. She is a graduate of the Canadian Film Centre’s Prime Time TV Writing Program and of the National Screen Institute’s Diverse TV Director Program. Tanya’s short drama HAPPY PILLS aired on HBO Canada as part of the anthology LITTLE FILMS ABOUT BIG MOMENTS, after screening at festivals worldwide. The script for her next short film STATIC won the Screenplay Giveaway Prize at the CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival, and the film, starring screen legends Eric Peterson and Yannick Bisson, went on to win numerous festival awards including Best Emerging Short Filmmaker at Fantasia International Film Festival, Best Actor In A Short Film at the Canadian Film Fest, Best Canadian Short Film at the Vancouver Badass Film Festival and the Brian Linehan Actors Award at the NSI Online Short Film Festival, before being broadcast on the CBC and streaming on demand. Recently, Tanya’s short script EMERY placed highly in multiple competitions, winning first prize in the WeScreenplay Diverse Voices Screenwriting Lab. Tanya is currently developing a number of film and TV projects, including her first feature film as writer/director.
GLORIA MERCER is a director and editor from Vancouver. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Simon Fraser University with a major in film and a minor in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies. She has directed several award-winning short films that have screened at festivals worldwide including the Vancouver Women in Film and Television Festival, Whistler Film Festival, and Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival. She has edited many other films that have screened at film festivals worldwide. Her latest short film, HEKADEMIA, was awarded support from the National Film Board of Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts and won Best Sci-Fi at the Oscar-Qualifying Hollyshorts Film Festival. In 2018 she founded the production company See Horse Films with her partner Aidan West. Together, the two of them are developing a feminist thriller that Gloria will direct and produce, titled A SAFE DISTANCE, slated to film in 2022. They filmed a short proof of concept set to be released in 2021. Gloria seeks to expand upon representations of women by making films that interrogate gender and foreground complicated female characters. Her work examines themes of loneliness, self-discovery, and relationships between women. She is passionate about featuring more women in front of and behind the camera, and fostering new talent in the BC film industry.
PANTA MOSLEH, made in Singapore, is a test tube baby, born and raised in West Asia, Singapore, and Canada. She has also lived in Japan a well as the United States. She currently resides in Vancouver, BC. In addition to working on several big-budget TV Shows, MOW’s and commercials as the Production Coordinator, this international BIPOC LGBTQ+ visionary independently produced and Directed award winning short films and music videos. Panta currently divides her time between producing, directing and acting, bringing her unique flair to every project. Panta is not only producing the Crazy 8’s top 6 project BABA but she is also currently in talks with CBC Gem for developing a digital series that is an extension of the short film PASS THE SALT which was licensed by CBC. Panta has produced multiple award-winning projects such as PASS THE SALT or DAMA BRANCA, HAPPY EVER AFTER, etc., which have been on CBC, CBC Gem, Telus Optic TV VOD, Super Channel, Apply TV+, Air Canada, and Amazon US & UK. She has also worked as an Associate Producer on Canada’s first Transgender Sitcom, THE SWITCH airing on Out TV and Revry, an LGBTQ+ streaming service.
MAYUMI YOSHIDA is a Japanese Canadian Actor, Writer, Director based in Vancouver BC. As an actor she is known for her role as Crown Princess (The Man in The High Castle) which got her a nomination for Best Emerging Actor at UBCP Awards.As an award winning writer/director she has been a leading force in emerging Asian-Canadian Cinema.“TOKYO LOVERS” has won Best Performance Award at Vancouver Asian Film Festival, Best short at Japan Film Festival LA. Her directorial debut film “AKASHI” has won Outstanding Writer out of 4500 films at NBCUniversal Short Film Festival, and many more internationally. She received 2019’s Newcomer award at Vancouver Women in Film Festival’s Spotlight awards for her success in multiple fields. In 2020 she filmed her first music video “Groupthink” with Amanda Sum which was featured on booooooom.com and Dusty Organ. Her latest Harold Greenberg funded short film “In Loving Memory” co-directed with Diana Bang and written/starring Andrea Bang, is currently on it’s festival run. She is currently in development of her first feature film AKASHI, which she will be writing, directing and acting in.
Women In the Director’s Chair (WIDC) was founded in 1997 as an initial collaboration among ACTRA, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and Women In Film and Television Vancouver. WIDC has since earned a reputation as a highly effective, internationally respected Canadian professional development offering, specially designed to offer mentorship, development and production support to advance the careers and fiction screen projects of Canadian women directors. With more than 300 director alumnae across Canada who garner over 100 awards and nominations for their work annually, over the last twenty-four years WIDC has fostered the voices and visions of a generation of women screen directors.
WIDC is presented with major support from Telefilm Canada and with the participation of CBC Films, Creative BC, Actra Fraternal Benefit Society, ACTRA National, and the Independent Production Fund.
WIDC Community collaborations include: Directors Guild of Canada, National Film Board, WIFT Vancouver’s International Women In Film Festival, Female Eye Film Festival, St John’s International Women’s Film Festival, BANFF Media Festival, WIFT Toronto, Women In View, Crazy 8’s, TIFF Share Her Journey, and the Whistler Film Festival.
WIDC Feature Film Award has been supported by Sim, William F. White International, Panavision Canada, Keslow Camera, Company 3 (formerly Encore Vancouver), Post Moderne, Technicolor Toronto, Skylab Vancouver, White Hart Post production, North Shore Studios, The Bridge Studios, Vancouver Film Studios, The Research House Clearance Services Inc., MELS Studios, Walter Lighting & Grip, Front Row Insurance, Descriptive Video Works, and Line 21.