Where are the female directors?

Columns

Why do so few women direct feature films in Canada? In an article by Playback writer Patricia Bailey, research shows that over the last 10 years the number has declined and that today in Quebec roughly 14% of features are being directed by women—two percentage points less than in 1985-1986.

Research into current funding shows that not one of seven French-language features funded by Telefilm or the nine supported by SODEC for this year will be directed by a woman.
Some of the country’s best-known fiction writers are woman, and producers, film crews and support staff are made up of high proportions of woman leading the teams in publicity, production management and accounting, but they are rarely directors or cinematographers.
The problem is not specific just to Quebec. Between 2002 and 2007, Telefilm funded 27 feature projects directed by women and 181 directed by men. And in 2007, the British Columbia Institute of Film found that of the 27 independent feature films made in BC between 2002 and 2007, only 11% of the directors, 11% of the editors and 7% of the writers were female.

The government agencies say that their processes are not gender-biased but that projects with women in the lead are not being submitted by producers—which is interesting because so many of the producers are women.

Research coming from the film schools shows that as many women as men are graduating from Canadian film schools. Women seem to want to make films; the big question is what happens to them after they leave school.

Another interesting observation in the report is that women seem to fare better with their small art films when a producer or distributor is not a requirement in order to get funding from Canadian agencies like the Canada Council or the National Film Board, where on average 36% of the projects submitted by women are funded.

Government agencies are now looking into the possibility of creating production areas specifically for women at both provincial and federal funding bodies.

And the Winners Are…
The Genie Awards, the annual celebration of Canadian film, moved from Toronto to Ottawa for the first time last month. Actors, comedians and politicians gathered to salute the country’s top cinema talent at the Canadian Aviation Museum. With much of feature film funding coming from Ottawa, the move offered the Academy of Canadian Film and Television an opportunity to showcase their awards to the very people providing the money.

This year’s honors went to:
Best Motion Picture and Golden Reel Award for the highest-grossing Canadian film: Passchendaele, written and directed by Paul Gross
Best Director: Benoît Pilon, The Necessities of Life (Ce qu’il faut pour vivre)
Best Documentary Film: Up the Yangtze, directed by Yung Chang
Best Actress: Ellen Burstyn, Stone Angel
Best Actor: Natar Ungalaaq, The Necessities of Life
Best Original Screenplay: Bernard Emond, The Necessities of Life

In total, Passchendale garnered six awards for art direction, costume design, sound and sound editing as well as best picture and highest-grossing film.

Close behind was the Quebec film The Necessities of Life, which won four Genies including best actor and best director for first-timer Benoît Pilon. It was also recognized for editing and original screenplay.

Cineplex, Onex Announce Offering
Cineplex Entertainment and Onex announced that Onex has entered into an agreement with a syndicate of underwriters led by RBC Capital Markets, Scotia Capital and the National Bank Financial for the sale of trust units on a bought deal basis.

The offering will consist of roughly 13 million units owned or controlled by Onex. The trust units will be sold under short-form prospectus in all provinces and territories. Following completion of the offering, Onex affiliates will continue to control approximately 2% of the outstanding units.

One Million for One Week

The Canadian drama One Week arrived in theatres in early March and has already brought in over CA$1 million. Mongrel Media topper Hussain Amarshi thanked audiences for their support, noting that it is extremely gratifying to see how Canadians have embraced this love letter to their country. The film stars Joshua Jackson (TV’s “Fringe”) as a terminally ill man on a cross-country motorcycle trek. Director Michael McGowan’s film was shot on location across the nation, including stops at oddball roadside attractions.

E1 Has Investor Confidence
British equity investor Marwyn Neptune Fund raised its stake in the Canadian producer/distributor Entertainment One from 27.7% to 44.4% as did Robert Lantos, whose holdings are now over 2%. Daren Throop, CEO of E1, also acquired more shares, taking his holdings up to 3.2%. The Cayman Islands-based company has its executive offices in Toronto.

E-mail Canadian news items to Adina Lebo at mptac.ca@ca.inter.net.