TV + Film NewsTelefilm says support from producers, broadcasters needed to up number of women...

Telefilm says support from producers, broadcasters needed to up number of women in key creative roles

Telefilm Canada has released an update of its gender parity initiatives for projects funded during the 2018/19 fiscal year, as it works toward a goal of achieving balance in key creative roles across its production portfolio by 2020.

Overall, Telefilm funding increased for projects with women in key roles (director, producer, and/or screenwriter). In total, $45.5 million was invested in films with at least one woman in a key role, representing 59% of all Telefilm production funding.

Percentage of number and investment for films with a woman in a key role, production, 2017-2018 & 2018-2019

The greatest improvement seen was in the role of the producer, where parity (or parity zone) was reached in all areas, with 61% of all projects signed having a female lead producer (up from 48% last year). Project volume ranged from 83% in documentaries, 68% in Talent to Watch, 53% in features with a budget over $2.5M, and 46% in features with a budget less than $2.5m. For lead producer, parity (or parity zone) was also reached in all areas for distribution of funding.

“We are making progress towards reaching a balanced, sustainable representation of women working in key roles behind the camera,” said Christa Dickenson, executive director at Telefilm Canada. “In doing so, we are investing more money into female talent, and making sure that their stories are being told. We know we still have work to do to in order to meet our 2020 goal.”

The $2.5m+ features category saw an increase in funding across all key roles. Projects with a woman working as the lead producer received $23.8 million (42% of funding in the category), up 11% from 2017/18. In the same budget category, $12.9 million went to projects with a female director (up 5% to 23% of the funding), and $19.2 million to female-scripted titles (up 13% to 34% of funding).

Dickenson says Telefilm would like to give more female directors an opportunity to direct a bigger budget feature, but that a collaborative approach is necessary to get there.


“We’re already giving them a calling card by investing in their first and second features at a lower budget level. We also need our distribution partners, producers and broadcasters to join us by supporting more women in the director’s chair for higher budget projects. It is clear that global audiences have an appetite for greater representation in storytelling, and we want to give them as much opportunity as possible, however we cannot do it alone,” said Dickenson.

Recent female-fronted projects receiving support from Telefilm include Geneviève Dulude-De Celles’ Une colonie (winner of two Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Picture), Miranda de Pencier’s The Grizzlies, Monia Chokri’s La femme de mon frère (which premiered at Cannes Film Festival, won the jury’s Coup de Coeur award in the Un Certain Regard section and is currently in release in both France and Québec), and Jasmin Mozafarri’s Firecrackers (which has screened at over 23 festivals worldwide, and opened in the U.S. July 12).


Upcoming titles include Jeune Juliette (opening Aug. 9 in Québec), Jen & Sylvia Soska’s re-interpretation of the horror classic Rabid (premiering at UK’s Frightfest), Jovanka Vuckovic’s Riot Girls (coming to theatres and VOD platforms Sept. 13), Loretta Todd’s Monkey Beach, Aisling Chin-Yee’s The Rest of Us (starring Heather Graham and Sophie Nélisse), Marie Clements’ feature directorial debut Red Snow, Louise Archambault’s Il pleuvait des oiseaux (Sept. 13), and Semi Chellas’ American Woman (set to premiere at TIFF).

Telefilm says new updates to definitions for diversity and inclusion on Telefilm applications will be released later this year.


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Connie Thiessen
Connie Thiessen
Connie has worked coast-to-coast as a reporter, editor, anchor and host at CKNW and News 1130 in Vancouver, News 95.7 and CBC in Halifax, and CFCW Edmonton, among other stations. With a passion for music, film and community service, she led News 95.7 to a 2013 Atlantic Journalism Award and regional RTDNA award for Best Radio Newscast. More recently, she was nominated for Music Journalist of the Year at Canadian Music Week 2019. To report a typo or error please email -

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