$200k prize presented at Whistler Film Festival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Vancouver, Canada (December 8, 2019) – Award-winning Acadian-Canadian filmmaker Pamela Gallant is the winner of the Women In the Director’s Chair’s 2019 national WIDC Feature Film Award, an in-kind prize of up to $200K in services and rentals, designed to encourage more feature films directed by Canadian women and gender minorities.

Gallant’s dramatic shorts have won awards at Canadian film festivals and she is also known for her character-driven documentary work notably with ARTV, CBC, Radio-Canada, BRAVO! and Discovery. She has directed, shot or edited more than 70 documentaries filmed and broadcast throughout North America and Europe. Monica’s News will be Gallant’s feature-length drama directorial debut.

“In the 70’s, while feminist groups heroically waged battles for equality in North American big cities, in isolated rural settings, individual young girls and women were also bravely taking on the sexist inequities of their times within their own families and in religion-steeped communities – often at great personal cost. Their stories are much lesser known which is why I wrote Monica’s News,” said award-winner Gallant.

“I am truly grateful for this award. You have given me a golden key and I am all the more moved that this award stems from an organization that has worked tirelessly to champion women’s voices and creative stories.”

“Pamela’s script takes us on a personal journey that has been rarely heard or shared in this way,” says Carol Whiteman, award-winning WIDC producer who provides executive producing services as part of the award. “WIDC is delighted to work with Pamela and her producing team to tell this story. We’re also so very grateful for our sponsors’ ongoing commitment and support for WIDC directors through this award.”

Since 2009, the WIDC Feature Film Award has supported the completion of eight multiple award-winning feature-length films by Canadian women directors Siobhan Devine (The Birdwatcher, released through IndieCan Entertainment); Kathleen Hepburn’s Never Steady, Never Still, Metis-Dene filmmaker, Marie Clements’ soon to be released Red Snow (A-71) and Sonia Bonspille Boileau’s Rustic Oracle (Seventh Screen). Both Red Snow and Rustic Oracle recently bowed at VIFF, ImagineNATIVE; and the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco where each took home top prizes. Gloria Ui Young Kim’s Queen of the Morning Calm world premiered at this year’s Whistler Film Festival and 2018 winner, Shelley Thompson aims for a 2020 production of Dawn, Her Dad & the Tractor.

The 2019 WIDC Feature Film Award will be presented December 8, 2019, at Whistler Film Festival awards ceremony. WFF has made a commitment to championing women in the industry both in front of and behind the camera.

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About Pamela Gallant
Born and raised in rural PEI, Acadian filmmaker Pamela Gallant’s independent shorts have won awards in Canadian film festivals, notably the Atlantic Film Festival for her half-hour drama La voisine, and short fiction Au Rythme du courant. She studied filmmaking at York University and with Venaco Productions in Paris, France. She has worked regularly as a documentary series director and editor on ARTV, CBC, Radio-Canada, BRAVO! and Discovery projects. Her feature script, Monica’s News, earned Pamela a special jury prize to attend the Women In the Director’s Chair: Story & Leadership program 2018 and is the recipient of the 2019 WIDC Feature Film Award valued at $200k in kind to complete the film.

About Monica’s News

In the summer of 1974, many in the secluded village of Millman, Nova Scotia continue to live their lives defined by patriarchal traditions. Spirited and idealistic nine-year-old CASEY isn’t one of them. The only person who treats Casey like an equal is her charismatic 16-year old cousin MONICA. She’s a role-model for Casey’s innate sense of what is just plain right. Then when Monica asserts herself, she’s punished. Casey reels from the shock of witnessing her uncle beat his daughter, her beloved cousin, Monica. A few days later, Monica’s lifeless body is discovered in the river and Casey is beside herself with grief. She suspects and later dares to voice her accusation that Monica was in fact murdered. But no one will listen. Once proudly the town’s first girl-newspaper-carrier, Casey is stripped of her paper-route career and relegated to babysitting. As she takes care of the infant granddaughter of HAZEL, a tough as nails impoverished widow, Casey and Hazel form an unexpected bond that when faced with a critical decision, it leads to an act of defiance. Monica would be proud.

Told from the perspective of nine-year-old Casey, Monica’s News is a coming of age story about a young girl finding the courage to speak up during an era when women’s voices were ignored or silenced. It’s a story that strongly echoes women’s struggles today.

Monica’s News is written and directed by Pamela Gallant; produced by Nova Scotia-based producers, Ann Bernier (Thom Fitzgerald’s Wild Dogs) and Karen Wentzell (Seed, Trailer Park Boys, Diggstown) with executive producer, Terry Greenlaw (Dawn, Her Dad & the Tractor).

About WIDC
Women In the Director’s Chair (WIDC) was founded in 1997 by ACTRA, The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and Women In Film and Television Vancouver and is administered by national non-profit society Creative Women Workshops Association. WIDC offers mentorship for Canadian women screen directors, along with project development and production awards to help them get their narrative stories on screen. With more than 260 award-winning director alumnae across Canada, over the last twenty-three years WIDC has advanced the voices of a generation of women screen directors.

WIDC is presented with major support from Telefilm Canada, CBC Films, 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, National Film Board, WIFT Vancouver’s International Women In Film Festival, Female Eye Film Festival, St John’s International Women’s Film Festival, Crazy 8’s, and the Whistler Film Festival.

WIDC Awards is valued at up to $200K and is supported by some of Canada’s most influential screen industry companies including Panavision Canada, Sim, Post Moderne, Keslow Camera, William F. White International, Walters Lighting and Grip, Encore Vancouver, Technicolor Toronto, Skylab Vancouver, White Hart Post Productions, North Shore Studios, The Bridge Studios, Vancouver Film Studios, The Research House Clearance Services Inc., Descriptive Video Works, Front Row Insurance, National Captioning Canada, and Line 21 Media. CBC Films recently announced their support for a $10,000 Talent Development Award for WIDC alumnae to take their scripts to the next draft.

About Whistler Film Festival
From December 4 to 8, 2019, the Whistler Film Festival welcomes film fans and filmmakers to experience its 19th edition featuring over 80 fresh films, special guests, epic events, unique industry initiatives, talent labs, 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. Find out more at whistlerfilmfestival.com.