FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 2020: Women In the Director’s Chair organizers are pleased to announce the four women directors selected to take part in the WIDC Career Advancement Module (CAM) taking place in collaboration with the St John’s International Women’s Film Festival. This augmented online edition runs workshop sessions October 13 to 24, 2020 with follow up career coaching extending through March 2021.

This session of the CAM includes award-winning filmmakers from British Columbia, Ontario and Newfoundland. Developing a diverse slate of films are, BC-based director-producer Esra Çilingir (Angel) who has sixteen years experience as an executive producer and second unit director for television in Turkey and Kenya; Ontario-based ACTRA members Jill Riley (Doc-u-meant) and Dorothy A. Atabong (Eye of the Veil). Atabong is also the 2020 Cayle Chernin Award recipient for her upcoming film Eye of the Veil.  Newfoundland-based Jamie Miller, known for her CSA-nominated doc, Prince’s Tale which took home Best Canadian Short at Hot-Docs, rounds out the cohort. Miller is also the winner of the 2020 RBC Michelle Jackson Award for her short film, Proximity, presented by the St John’s International Women’s Film Festival at the closing of this year’s festival.

Due to COVID-19, this year all WIDC programs are being delivered online, beginning with a new 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. Intensive master classes are led by WIDC co-creator and producer, Dr. Carol Whiteman EdD with Mentor Directors, WIDC alumnae Ruth Lawrence (Little Orphans), and Feature Film Award winner  (Queen of the Morning Calm) Gloria Ui Young Kim whose feature films respectively open and close the St John’s International Women’s Film Festival.

The directors also meet with Digital Media and Marketing Mentor, Annelise Larson and industry executives including CBC Films Senior Director, Mehernaz Lentin; Telefilm Canada, Feature Film Executive, Atlantic Region, Lori McCurdy; Bell Media Harold Greenberg Fund president & CEO, John Galway; and Matt Orenstein, who recently joined Vortex Media as VP, Acquisitions and Strategy, among others who offer insights into navigating career paths and connecting screen projects with the market place. At the end of the intensive, directors set strategic career goals then meet for one to one coaching with Whiteman through March 2021.

“One of the most satisfying aspects of my job has always been working with producers, writers and directors and helping them develop their creative talent and bring their stories to their audiences,” says Lori McCurdy, Feature Film Executive, Atlantic Region, Telefilm Canada.

Telefilm Canada, provides major funding support for WIDC. This session of the CAM is presented in collaboration with St John’s International Women’s Film Festival, celebrating their 31st anniversary – virtual edition this year.

Over one hundred other Canadian directors have used the WIDC CAM to help strategically spring-board their careers, including award-winning directors, Gloria Ui Young Kim, Ruth Lawrence, Winnifred Jong, Siobhan Devine, Karen Lam, and Jordan Canning, to name only a few.

The next deadline for director applications for a CAM session will be January 15, 2021.  Two separate  online sessions will take place respectively during the Vancouver International Women In Film Festival and the Female Eye Film Festival, March 2021. To address any financial challenges that may be a result of COVID-19, WIDC fees are being waived.

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Dorothy A. Atabong
Born and raised in Cameroon, Central Africa and educated in the USA and Canada, Dorothy A. Atabong is an award-winning actor, writer, producer and director. She earned a BSc. in Biochemistry from Michigan, before moving on to graduate from the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre in New York City. She’s been featured in the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Now Magazine, BBC World Cup Magazine, ScreenAfrica, with raving reviews in stage performances and filmmaking. She was invited to join the Women In the Director’s Chair (WIDC) in Banff as an Actor. Dorothy’s short film Sound of Tears, produced under her company Ayinke Films Inc., marked her directorial debut. It has since screened at over 40 film festivals worldwide and garnered numerous nominations and awards including the Africa Movie Academy Award in 2015, Yorkton Film Festival and Pan African Film Festival in LA. The film premiered at the Montreal Film Festival. Her screenplay Daisy’s Heart won 2011 Best Low Budget Script at the Female Eye Film Festival, and in 2020 her screenplay Eye of the Veil was shortlisted for the Page Awards, Fade In Awards and BlueCat. She recently won the Cayle Chernin Award for media arts for Eye of the Veil, and is mentored by director Atom Egoyan.

Esra Çilingir
Originally from Turkey, Esra Çilingir, is a producer/director for TV with 16 years of experience. She studied Radio, Cinema and TV at Marmara University in Istanbul between 1998-2002 and started working in the media industry in Turkey even before her university graduation. She began as a production assistant in live and recorded studio music shows and talk shows and continued as director’s assistant at the Samanyolu / Everest Broadcasting Company until 2005.  She soon advanced to director/producer positions where she worked on over 500 episodes of television, including lifestyle, music, talk show, documentary and competition. In 2005, she moved to the in-house drama department and worked as an assistant director on several drama series between 2005-2013. With different TV Channels in 4 countries including Germany, Azerbaijan and the USA, in 2013, Esra was offered the opportunity to work for SEBC’s new channel in Africa. Her producing journey then continued to Nairobi, Kenya where she created, developed and produced 15 different TV shows and over 300 episodes for African audiences as an executive producer in Kenya between 2013-2017. Esra is excited to combine her experience with Canadian media culture, add new skills and extend her creativity as part of the industry in Vancouver, Canada where she has been a resident since July 2017.

Jamie Miller
Jamie Miller is an award-winning director and producer of documentary and fictional films. Her directorial debut, Prince’s Tale, received a Canadian Screen Award nomination and 8 festival awards including Best Canadian Short at Hot Docs, Best Documentary Short at Calgary International Film Festival, and Best Short at Lunenburg Doc Fest, as well as 4 Audience Choice awards. It is currently streaming on CBC Gem. Her most recent short doc, MerB’ys, has just been released on CBC Gem. Jamie has a BFA in Film Production from York University and is an alumna of the 2019 DOC Breakthrough program. She is the recipient of the 2020 RBC Michelle Jackson Award for her short drama, Proximity.

Jill Riley
Director /producer, Jill Riley is an alumna of the prestigious Women In the Directors’ Chair (WIDC) production program at the Banff Centre. Her films have aired on network television including CBC, and screened at festivals worldwide from Montreal to Mumbai, Paris to Philadelphia. Having entered the industry as an actor, Jill began producing in 1998 including Mark Wihak’s shorts, Ecstasy which screened at TIFF and autoerotica which won a 2000 NSI-Canada Drama Prize. In 2003, she directed the award-winning short With Wings, co-written with Monique Marcker. Her other short films include the festival hits, The hard facts of a rock n roll crush (Parts I, II & III) based on the wry poetry of Kathleen Olmstead, and The Princess of Selkirk Avenue which garnered the Toronto Filmmaker Award at the Female Eye Film Festival. She also directed Andrew Musselman’s beautiful short, Golden Boys and Caitlin-McConkey Pirie’s slice-of-life-short, Hot & Bothered. At the CAM she is developing one of her feature screenplays, The End of Things. Jill has several other projects in development including short films, documentaries and the bio pic, She Was the Century about New York artist and iconoclast, Alice Neel.  Originally hailing from Winnipeg, Jill now makes her home in Toronto.


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 260 director alumnae across Canada, who garner over 100 awards and nominations for their work annually, over the last twenty-two 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 ACTRA, and with the participation of CBC Films, Actra Fraternal Benefit Society, ACTRA National, TELUS STORYHIVE, Creative BC, UBCP/ACTRA, Independent Production Fund, and ACTRA Alberta.

WIDC Community collaborations include: Directors Guild of Canada, 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, 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 William F. White International, Panavision Canada, Sim, Keslow Camera, Company 3 (formerly Encore Vancouver), Post Moderne, Technicolor Toronto, Skylab Vancouver, North Shore Studios, The Bridge Studios, Vancouver Film Studios, The Research House Clearance Services Inc., MELS Studios, Walter Lighting & Grip, Front Row Insurance, White Hart Post Production, Descriptive Video Works, and Line 21.