Whistler Film Festival Showcases Record Number Of Women Filmmakers

WFF features a record number of films directed by women and female participation in talent programs plus three female-focused awards. Susan Cartsonis confirmed for Women on Top Keynote.

WHISTLER -At a time when the call for gender parity is more prevalent than ever, the Whistler Film Festival (Nov 29 – Dec 3) is presenting an unprecedented number of female focused films, talent, events, and awards throughout its 2017 programs.

To mark its commitment to championing women in the industry, and to celebrate the women directors and talent at this year’s festival, female filmmakers and industry leaders will ascend to the top of Whistler Mountain for WFF’s second annual Women on Top Keynote and Breakfast on December 2 sponsored by Whistler Blackcomb.

The Whistler Film Festival will screen 14 feature films and 16 short films directed by women, which makes up 30% of this year’s film programming, the highest percentage for the festival to date. WFF is also honoured to have 40 Canadian females out of 82 (49%) participating in 11 different talent programs, including 14 directors, 5 producers, 4 screenwriters, 9 filmmakers, 3 actors, and 5 musicians in bands in the Music Showcase.

WFF’s Women on Top keynote address will be delivered by American film producer and co-founder of Resonate Entertainment Susan Cartsonis, who was named “one of the top five grossing producers of the year” by The Hollywood Reporter, in the year her film WHAT WOMEN WANT became the highest grossing romantic comedy of all time at the time of its release and remains number two to this day. Cartsonis has also produced THE DUFF, BEASTLY, WHERE THE HEART IS, and AQUAMARINE, as well as executive produced MIDDLE SCHOOL, INVISIBLE SISTER, and NO RESERVATIONS. Her most recent films produced include CARRIE PILBY, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2016, and DEIDRA & LANEY ROB A TRAIN, a Netflix Original Film which premiered at Sundance 2017. She is currently executive producing The Disney Channel musical FREAKY FRIDAY THE MUSICAL.

“It’s not unreasonable to expect that women should be 50 percent of those creating content, considering more than 50 percent of us are consuming the content,” says Cartsonis. “I think it’s really important that women mentor both men and women. I’m well aware that some encouragement, direction and advice can change the course of your life. And when women mentor men, we change the way they view the abilities of women.”

Cartsonis was an executive at 20th Century Fox for nearly a decade and rose from script reader to Senior VP of Production. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and serves on the Independent Committee of the Producer’s Guild. She teaches Advanced Producing at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and is strong advocate for female representation in front and behind the camera. She is a frequent speaker on the economic argument for female inclusion in media.

“The Whistler Film Festival’s female focused initiatives are aligned with several industry wide mandates launched last year, and we are committed to promoting the shared goal of breaking the celluloid ceiling and increasing the number of women in the director’s chair, addressing the imbalance of industry diversity behind the camera and supporting the collaborative efforts to bring more female written and directed narratives to screen,” says Shauna Hardy Mishaw, WFF Executive Director. “With strong representation both in front of and behind the camera in our films, and talent programs this year, Whistler is maintaining a timely leadership role for women in the industry, when the need is not only apparent, the collective is calling for it.“

WFF Feature Films directed or co-directed by women:

BECOMING BURLESQUE (Canada) Dir. Jackie English

THE MOMENT (Canada) Dir. Darcy Hennessey Turenne

NEVER SAW IT COMING (Canada) Dir. Gail Harvey

NOBODY FAMOUS (Canada) Dir. Sarah Rotella

PRODIGALS (Canada) Dir. Michelle Ouellet

BUDAPEST NOIR (Hungary) Dir Éva Gárdos

THE DEFINITES (Canada) Dir. Hannah Cheesman & Mackenzie Donaldson

NEVER HERE (United States) Dir. Camille Thoman

STORY OF A GIRL (United States) Dir. Kyra Sedgwick

VENUS (Canada) Dir. Eisha Marjara

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ANDRÉ (United States) Dir. Kate Novack

PORCUPINE LAKE (Canada) Dir. Ingrid Veninger

HEAVEN’S FLOOR (Canada, United States) Dir. Lori Stoll

ORDINARY DAYS (Canada) Dir. Jordan Canning, Kris Booth, Renuka Jeyapalan

WFF Short Films directed or co-directed by women:


THE STAKEOUT (Canada) Dir. Jax Smith

NEGATIVE SPACE (France/US) Dir. Ru Kuwuhata and Max Porter

WE FORGOT TO BREAK UP (Canada) Dir. Chandler Levack

BFF (Canada) Dir. Sofia Auza

GOOD GIRLS DON’T (Canada) Dir. Ana de Lara

MONDAY (Canada) Dir. Liz Levine

LOLZITA (Canada) Dir. Katie Boland

THE BURDEN (MIN BÖRDA) (Sweden) Dir. Niki Lindroth von Bahr

DEAR HATETTS (Canada) Dir. Kerry Barber

SHADES OF WINTER: CROSSROADS (Austria) Dir. Sandra Lahnsteiner


UNINTENTIONAL MOTHER (Canada) Dir. Mary Galloway

WAITING FOR LOU (EN ATTENDANT LOU) (Canada) Dir. Katerine Martineau

FLOATING LIGHT (Canada) Dir. Natalie Murao

VIOLET AND JUNE (Canada) Dir. Linnea Ritland

THE BUTTERFLY (Canada) Dir. Andy Alvarez

WFF Talent Programs with female participation announced to date include:

Feature Project Lab (4/6 producers): Lettie Costea (BC) – ALONE; Tricia Lee (ON) PENUMBRA; Amanda Verhagen (BC) PARTY FAVOUR and Carmen Forsberg (BC) – BOUNDARY COUNTRY.

Praxis Screenwriters Lab (4/5 screenwriters): Andeep Singh (BC) – GOODNIGHT MR G; Emily Bridger (NL) – LITTLE ORPHANS; Simone Stock (ON) POLARIS and Kate Bond (BC) – TRAPLINE.

Power Pitch (1/5 producers): Rebeka Herron (BC) – SALTBOX

Aboriginal Filmmaker Fellowship (3/6 directors): Nikita Weiss Day (BC) – SWEETGRASS ROAD; Madison Thomas (MB) – STARBOUND and Sonya Ballantyne (MB) – REVISION


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