Award-winning ACTRA short Reel Women Seen highlights under-representation

Carmen Moore and Kristin Lehman are among the Canadian actresses who appear in ACTRA-produced short film Reel Women Seen, highlighting under-representation in Canadian film and television. (UBCP/ACTRA)

Ahead of International Women’s Day 2019 this Friday, ACTRA-produced, award-winning short film Reel Women Seen has been released on ACTRA National’s YouTube channel for use as an advocacy tool.

The eight-minute film highlights some of the gender inequalities in Canadian film and television and stars a host of Canadian actresses, including Jennifer Podemski (Cardinal, Hard Rock Medical), Gabrielle Rose (A Dog’s Purpose, Maudie), Kristin Lehman (Altered Carbon, The Killing) and Saara Chaudry (The Breadwinner, Holly Hobbie), among others.

Directed by Amanda Tapping (Stargate SG-1, Supernatural) and written by Elvira Kurt (Baroness Von Sketch Show), Real Women Seen is a comedic look at the reality of under-representation, female stereotypes and ageism within the industry, supported by stats from ACTRA’s most recent Women In View report. 

Among the inequities highlighted, the film points to 29 Canadian television series earmarked for the highest level of public funding. Just 17 of those series hired female directors. That translates to 14 women directors out of 84, and just 33 female-directed episodes of a total of 293.

When you take film and television into account, combined, only 22 per cent of Canadian screenwriters are women, and 17 per cent of directors.

“We started our project to raise awareness of the inequalities that exist in our industry both in Canada and around the world. Everyone who worked so tirelessly on the short film has been touched by the reception it has received and the changes it inspires. We hope this continues its release for public use,” said Reel Women Seen producer Heather Allin.

Reel Women Seen screened at over 40 film festivals and events last year, earning a Jury Choice Award at the 2018 Diversity in Cannes Short Film Showcase; a Best Director Award at the 2018 Canadian Diversity Film Festival; Best Short Film Award at the 2018 Imagine This Women’s International Film Festival; and a Festival Director Award (Short Film) at TIFF.

“The ACTRA members and crew involved in the production of this short film deserve a round of applause. Without a doubt, it was the contribution of their time and talent that led to its success,” said ACTRA National President David Sparrow. “We hope decision-makers in our industry as well as the many other industries where gender inequality still exists take to heart the message the short film instills and take action to make real change.”

ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is the national union of professional performers working in the English-language recorded media in Canada, representing the interests of over 25,000 members across the country. The ACTRA National Women’s Committee has a mandate to explore the issues of all female ACTRA members, raise awareness, and support women both within ACTRA and the industry.