Pictured: Top: Lisa Robertson, Marielle Quesney, Katelyn McCulloch, Gianna Isabella, Rolla Tahir
Bottom: Mily Mumford, Frieda Luk, Anna Wheeler, Gia Milani

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 2022: Women In the Director’s Chair organizers are pleased to announce the nine women and non-binary directors selected to take part in the upcoming edition of the WIDC Career Advancement Module (CAM).

Celebrating its 25 years this year, WIDC’s edition of the CAM is presented in collaboration with two of Canada’s long-running international women’s film festivals, the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival offering its 17th edition online (March 8 to 13, 2022) and the Female Eye Film Festival commemorating its 20th edition (June 7 to 12, 2022).

Selected by a peer jury, the award-winning filmmakers from coast to coast, developing a diverse slate of scripted projects, are:

Gia Milani (NB), DGC member recently celebrated by WIFT-Atlantic’s Wave Award, is developing a new drama series, The Advocate;

Lisa Roberston (ON) DGC member whose shorts have been featured on CBC and CTV and is known for Bell Media comedy series, Stock and Awe, is developing the feature, Age of Anxiety;

Frieda Luk, (BC) writer/director/producer and an alumna of TIFF’s Writer’s Studio and Talent Lab, is developing her dark comedy feature Sacred Creature;

Mily Mumford (BC) writer/director/producer holds multiple science degrees and is developing their sci-fi feature film Always Been Loved;

Gianna Isabella (AB) short-filmmaker is developing her action comedy, Gloria Gaffney is a Gangster;

Marielle Quesney (QC) who directs story-driven game trailers and develops narrative universes for the video game industry is developing the magical realism concept film, After Hours;

Rolla Tahir (ON) filmmaker, cinematographer, and recent alumna of the Reelworld E20 program, is developing the magical realism feature film, Jude and the Jinn;

Katelyn McCulloch (ON) award-winning ACTRA member is developing the feel-good feature film Life’s a Circus, inspired by her own experiences as a circus performer;

Anna Wheeler (NL) 2021 St John’s International Women’s Film Festival RBC Michelle Jackson Award-winner is developing her MJ Award concept short, Vegas.

“I’m thrilled to be taking part in Women In the Director’s Chair’s CAM initiative, where women’s creative and career development in television and film is honoured through a holistic lens, and where inclusion, social justice and equity are at the core of the program,” says Lisa Robertson who is also a founding member of ARCA, Artists for Real Climate Action.

“When workshop sessions come to a close, the benefits of WIDC really just begin to kick in,” says Carol Whiteman, WIDC’s multi-award-winning co-creator and producer. “There’s a significant spring-board effect associated with being part of the inspiring 25-year legacy of WIDC alumnae achievements.”


All WIDC programs are currently being delivered online, beginning with a specially designed Equity, Diversity and Inclusionmodule led by respected scholar/ filmmaker Dr. Dorothy Christian Cucw-la7, PhD and recent Governor General’s Award winner and much-lauded figure in Canada’s screen industry, Dr. Rita Shelton Deverell C.M., EdD.  Also joining a series of Zoom round tables to offer insights into navigating career paths and connecting screen projects with the marketplace are: Digital Media and Marketing Mentor, Annelise Larson and industry executives including representatives from CBC Films, Bell Media, Vortex Media, Independent Production Fund, as well as Telefilm Canada. In addition to workshop sessions, participants receive passes to partake in both festivals’ online offerings and receive follow up career coaching extending through June 2022. The cohort of writer/directors will become part of a network of over three hundred WIDC women director alumnae living and working across Canada and around the globe. The cohort will also meet with award-winning directors, including recent CSA-nominee Winnifred Jong (Pretty Hard Cases) as part of WIDC’s Working In Episodic roundtable series specially designed for WIDC alumnae levelling up in television. Master classes and follow up mentorship are facilitated by WIDC co-creator and producer, Dr. Carol Whiteman, EdD.

#WIDC | #WomenDirectors | #VIWFF2022 | #FeFF2022


Recognizing the term woman/women is in an evolution of language and welcoming those who identify as she/her and or they/them, Women In the Director’s Chair (WIDC) was founded in 1996/97 as an initial collaboration among ACTRA, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and Women In Film and Television Vancouver. Since attending WIDC, over 300 Canadian WIDC alumnae have gone on to direct thousands of hours of screen entertainment reaching millions of audiences globally. WIDC is presented with major support from Telefilm Canada and with the participation of Creative BC, Actra Fraternal Benefit Society, ACTRA National, and the Independent Production Fund.  WIDC Community Collaborations include Directors Guild of Canada, National Film Board, WIFTV, Vancouver International Women In Film Festival, Female Eye Film Festival, St John’s International Women’s Film Festival, WIFT Toronto, Women In View, Crazy 8’s, TIFF Share Her Journey, and the Whistler Film Festival. WIDC Awards have been supported by CBC Films, BANFF World Media Festival, Sim, William F. White International Ltd., Panavision Canada, Keslow Camera, RAW Camera, Company 3, Encore VFX, Elemental Post, Post Moderne, 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, EP Canada, Line 21 Media Services Ltd.

WIDC gratefully acknowledges that the WIDC program originates from the traditional and unceded lands of the Coast Salish people, including the xmkym (Musqueam), Swxwu7mesh (Squamish), and slilwta (Tseil-wau-tuth) Nations. We also acknowledge the Indigenous Nations on whose traditional lands our guests, participants, and colleagues live, work and create. We commit to working together in the spirit of collaboration and respect for the generations that came before, those living now, and the generations to come.


GIANNA ISABELLA (AB) got her start assisting directors and producers on big Hollywood productions such as The Revenant, Interstellar and Cold Pursuit. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Lethbridge where she focused on filmmaking. She co-directed her first short film, BALANCE, starring Stephen Baldwin and Jason Marsden. She has since directed a number of short films including the Telus STORYHIVE funded ACTRESS DENIED starring Gemini Award-winner Michelle Thrush and THE MAN FROM THE DINER which was shot on 16mm film and was released in 2020 at the Edmonton International Film Festival and on SuperChannel. Most recently she directed OPEN MIC AT THE COMEDY CABARET, which had its premiere at the Calgary International Film Festival in 2021. Gianna recently received the Alberta Media Fund Script Development Grant for a feature film version of her short THE MAN FROM THE DINER and is currently in development on another feature film, GLORIA GAFFNEY IS A GANGSTER.

FRIEDA LUK (BC) is a writer/director/producer of Cantonese descent from Vancouver, British Columbia. She produced and directed two films that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF): American Sisyphus (2012), and The Encounter (2014). As a screenwriter, Frieda’s screenplay Delicacy won HBO’s Project Greenlight filmmaking competition in 2014, and was screened at major festivals, including the Telluride Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival. In 2018 she was selected to participate in the TIFF Writer’s Studio. In 2016 she was selected to participate in the TIFF Talent Lab. In 2015 she was the recipient of the Irving Avrich fund for emerging artists at the TIFF. In 2011 she was nominated for a New York Woman in Film and Television award for emerging talent. She received a Carla Bruni Sarkozy Scholarship in 2013 to further her studies in Paris. She has worked professionally in both English and French at organizations such as Unifrance and the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris. Prior to filmmaking she was a Marshall McLuhan graduate scholar at the University of Toronto and a videographer and producer at SUNTV in Toronto. She received her MFA from Columbia University and is currently training as a kink-informed intimacy coordinator.

KATELYN MCCULLOCH (ON) is an award-winning actor and filmmaker who grew up as a dancer in Nova Scotia then moved to Toronto to study acting before running away to join the circus. What followed next was a series of strange events that include but are not limited to: Directing 13 live circus shows, starting stand-up comedy, writing, producing and starring in the dark comedy Barbara-Anne that won Silver at Toronto After Dark Film Festival, writing/directing the short golf comedy film Mulligan that won Best Canadian Short at The Great Canadian Comedy Film Festival, Best International Comedy at the Portland Comedy Festival and was a Finalist at the Austin Comedy Film Festival. It also played at FIN Atlantic Film festival and SJIWFF. As a performer, McCulloch has spent two seasons starring at The Stratford Theatre Festival and acted in film/television projects including Pretty Hard Cases, Avocado Toast, Mary Kills People, Mind Fudge, Reign and Incorporated. She holds a Dora and a Broadway World Award for her work. Katelyn has three new short films in post-production and is currently writing her second draft of her first feature film, Life’s a Circus. She has been called a firecracker more than once and is often asked to slow down while speaking… something she is still working on.

GIA MILANI (NB) is a director, writer and executive producer. Her feature All the Wrong Reasons had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. She won several major awards for directing and writing the film, including the Discovery Prize at TIFF and the Script Accessible Award at Slamdance. Gia was also named as one of the top Canadian film talents to watch. Recently, Gia was awarded a prestigious “A Grant” from ArtsNB for directing her experimental comedy short At the Back which premiered at the Atlantic Film Festival Gala and was picked up by CBC Gem. Gia was honoured by WIFT-Atlantic with a 2021 WIFT-AT WAVE Award. Previously, in 2018, she was honoured by WIFT-Atlantic with a Salute to a Woman Working in Entertainment in New Brunswick. In 2018 Gia was chosen by Women in View to be a spotlighted director in their Five in Focus program. Gia’s feature screenplay, Strathcona, was shortlisted in December 2017 for the TIFF/CBC Diverse Screenwriter’s Grant (top 6). Gia has a bachelor’s degree in Applied Arts from the University of New Brunswick and an honours diploma from the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. She is a full member of the DGC and the WGC.

MILY MUMFORD (BC) (they/them) is a writer and director for film, theatre and new media. They have also worked as a producer, story editor and science consultant. They have written over fifteen short and full length works that have been produced for the stage. Recent work as writer/director includes the short films Gemini (2018, Cannes Short Film Corner, London Sci-Fi Festival plus 15 additional international festivals) Operation Gingham (Winner of Best Film at Vancouver Quarantine Performance Project, 2020), First Bite (2018, Winner Best Film Circus Short Film Contest, Best Film East Van Showcase) and Marsha’s Knitting Club (2021, premiere pending). They are a part of the Playwright’s Theatre Centre Associate’s Program for mid-career playwrights for 2021-2024 with their immersive play in development It Lives in My Bedroom. They were also recently an emerging playwright-in-residence with the Arts Club Theatre in 2019. Upcoming works include the interactive play Controller as a part of the rEvolver Festival 2022. In addition to creative work, they hold a BSc. In Neuroscience and an MSc. In Interactive Technology.

LISA ROBERTSON (ON) A strong creative collaborator, Lisa delivers compelling stories that reflect the beauty and humour in life’s drama. Having launched her career in commercials and indies she brings flexibility and ingenuity to the role of director. Her award-winning short films have screened in festivals worldwide, most notably the AFI, and TIFF Circuit, as well as on CBC and W. An alumna of “X” University for acting and film studies, CFC Directors Lab, CFC Prime Time Television Program with Virginia Rankin and NSI Totally Television Program, Lisa is an NSI Drama Prize winner for directing and writing. Her selected broadcast credits include co-creating, directing and producing an 8-part comedy series & pilot STOCK AND AWE for Bell Media and a one-hour doc, AND THAT’S THE KIND OF LIFE IT’S BEEN for W5. She directed BEHIND THE FUNNY for Sarah Fowlie which aired on CTV’s Comedy Network and a climate rant she produced, directed and co-wrote with Mary Walsh aired in Halifax on CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes. She’s a founding member of ARCA, Artists for Real Climate Action and this year leaves the Bell Media Agency after taking the lead on national campaigns to focus on her directing career. Lisa just received some funding for Age of Anxiety, a script she is writing to direct and is a new member of the Director’s Guild of Canada.

MARIELLE QUESNEY (QC) writer / director obsessed with the dualities of human nature, currently develops narrative universes and directs story driven trailers for the video game industry. She launched her career in the indy scene crafting music videos, experimental and documentary films. Her fresh, captivating and witty concepts caught Ubisoft’s eye, where she was offered a position directing CGI trailers in 2017. She went on to join the Hyper Scape franchise to develop the narrative universe and establish the transmedia strategy through publishing, and a short film series. Her short CGI film series for Hyper Scape won the 2021 Bronze Award – Grand Prix Du Brand Content (Paris). Most recently, she joined Ubisoft’s largest live game franchise: Rainbow Six Siege, to develop the narrative universe and a short anime film series. Marielle was awarded CCA, NFB and SODEC grants, for her 2006 feature length documentary film DEAD SPACE featuring Psyckoze, a first wave Parisian graffiti writer who finds the freedom he craves from society in the depths of the Catacombs. It screened in festivals worldwide including at the LA MOCA as part of a history of Graffiti retrospective. She brings invaluable experience directing animation, live action and an ability to seamlessly blend the two into surreal worlds.

ROLLA TAHIR (ON) is a filmmaker and director of photography based in Toronto. She’s lensed short, narrative and experimental films, which have screened across Canada and internationally, including the UK, the States and Guatemala. Obsessed with the durability, longevity and spontaneity of the analog film medium, Rolla has worked with Super 8, 16mm and 35mm to explore the analog process and its possibilities. Her passion in cinematography stems from the need to bring narratives to life, work with visionary creatives and to understand and be understood. Rolla’s first short film Sira was selected to screen at the 43rd Toronto International Film Festival. An alumna of the Reelworld Film Festival E20 program, Rolla is currently developing two feature films, including her magical realism story, Jude and the Jinn, and two series that she’s written and is in pre-production on her 5th short film funded by the Toronto Arts Council.

ANNA WHEELER (NL) is a multidisciplinary artist whose passions lie in developing intimate and emotionally driven narratives. As an actor and musician, she has toured across North America. Her first short film, BOYS AND GIRLS, premiered at the St. John’s International Women’s Film festival in 2007. In 2011, she wrote and directed FACE IT, co-produced by Jamie Pitt. The film included performances by over 30 local actors. Anna’s 2019 film, MELODY, premiered at FIN’S Gala Night and was broadcast nationally on CBC’s Short Film Face Off, competing as one of nine films selected from across Canada. Past Producing credits include GROWN IN DARKNESS, by Devin Shears (2021, Canada Council for the Arts, Nifco’s Picture Start Program) and LA VEILLEE, by Kerrin Rafuse (MJ Award ’20). Anna lives in downtown St. John’s with her two kittens Tusks and Blossom and is currently in pre-production for her short film VEGAS. She is an ACTRA member and a graduate of Ryerson University’s Acting program.