Women in View on Screen

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Inaugural Annual Report Shows Women Vastly Under-Represented in Top Creative Positions in Canadian Film

At the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival, Rina Fraticelli,
Executive Director of Women in View, shared the results of an inaugural annual report called
Women in View on Screen. This report examines the representation of women in the roles of
director and screenwriter in 130 Canadian feature films funded through Telefilm Canada and
released in 2010 and 2011.

The report reveals that only 17 per cent of the 130 films released in 2010/2011 were directed
by women; and a mere 21 per cent had female screenwriters. The results for visible minority
and First Nations women were much worse, with only one director and two screenwriters.
Women in View chose to focus on directing and screenwriting in their inaugural report because
of the impact of these positions play in shaping the final film story, and the employment of
others on the film production crew.

“The inequality is staggering, considering that more women than ever are participating in
Canada’s workforce,” says Fraticelli. “Also, we know that having women in these key roles
translates into more on-screen roles for women actors.”

Fraticelli adds that a further consequence of excluding women, and especially women from
First Nations and racialized minorities, is that our media industries are failing to take advantage
of the wealth of stories that spring from Canada’s rich cultural diversity.

“Simply put, women’s voices and stories are not being seen or heard as often as men’s,” she
says.

Sarah Polley, Director Take This Waltz

Sarah Polley, Director: Take this waltz (2011)

This study was undertaken by Women in View, a national not-for-profit organization that
advocates for greater gender and racial balance in Canadian media, with guidance from Dr.
Charles Davis, professor at Ryerson University in the School of Radio and Television Arts and the
Entrepreneurship and Strategy Department in the Ted Rogers School of Management.

“It’s really unfortunate this industry has such a low rate of inclusion of women and other
diverse groups,” Davis says. “This has consequences for our culture and the types of stories that
are told. We have to find ways to improve the diversity in this industry.”

Veteran Newfoundland filmmaker and producer Barbara Doran is participating on a panel
organized by the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival to discuss the findings of this
report. Few know the challenges faced by women breaking into top tier film industry positions
better than Doran, and she suggests that some of today’s popular film genres may be keeping
female writers and directors on the sidelines.

“I turn down more movies than I make,” Doran says. “The studios all want violent action and
horror films, but those aren’t the types of films I am interested in making. I think a lot of
women in this industry are in that same position.”

Inclusion of women and minorities in key creative roles in film makes a lot of economic sense.
According to the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA), in 2011 the value of media
industries to Canada’s gross domestic product was $5.49 billion, representing 128,000 full-time
jobs. Additionally, women represent 55 per cent of movie ticket purchasers.

“More than being an important economic engine, our media industries constitute one of the
most significant forces shaping our national culture, as well as our individual identities and
values,” Fraticelli says. “To remain innovative and competitive, today’s media organizations
need a talent pool as diverse and demanding as its increasingly global public. “

Women in View is launching this series of annual reports in order to track trends in the
Canadian film and television industry. In the United States, these employment trends have
been tracked for years by Dr. Martha Lauzen through the Celluloid Ceiling project. Those figures
are disheartening, showing that in 2011-2012 just five per cent of the top-grossing American
films were directed by women.

Women in View on Screen will be followed in spring 2013 by Women in View on TV. Women in
View will continue in its role as the national hub for information about Canadian women in
media, with annual updates as well as intermittent reports on particular sectors and links to
pertinent websites.

Click here to view the report in its entirety.

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