While a number of national initiatives have been announced to address the gender imbalance in film and TV over this past year, Women in Film and Television Vancouver (WIFTV) presented their annual Spotlight Awards on June 20 to recognize local individuals who have made significant contributions to the progress of women in screen-based industries in Canada.
This year's jury included Whistler Film Festival executive director Shauna Hardy Mishaw, Voyage Media Productions producer and director Cindy Leaney, and Capilano University independent indigenous filmmaking program coordinator Doreen Manuel.
Here is a list of the winners, which includes Georgia Straight contributor Mark Leiren-Young:
Thunderbird Entertainment/Lark Productions Woman of the Year: Canadian Media Producers Association's Liz Shorten
This award is presented to an industry leader who has achieved significant success and who has created opportunities for other women in the industry.
Liz Shorten, CMPA BC Producers Branch's senior vice-president, operations, and member services, advocates for B.C. companies, creates policies and strategies to assist in industry growth, and organizes industry and export development initiatives. She also serves on the board of the national research organization, Women in View, and is a past recipient of a WIFTV award for her work supporting women in the film and television industry in B.C. She was recently named an industry champion by the Whistler Film Festival.
DGC BC Artistic Achievement Award: Tara Armstrong (Mary Kills People)
This award honours a screen-based media artist who has created an outstanding recent work or a significant body of work.
Tara Armstrong attended UBC’s Creative Writing Program where she created and wrote Mary Kills People, her original pilot/series about a doctor running an illegal assisted suicide business. It was produced as a six-part event series by Corus/Global, with Lifetime Television in the U.S. She was featured as one of the Hollywood Reporter’s 2016 “Canada’s Rising Stars: 15 Newcomers Grabbing Hollywood’s Attention” and Variety’s 2017 “Top Ten Canadians to Watch.”
Please Adjust Your Set: Valerie Creighton (Canada Media Fund), Heather Conway (CBC), and Carolle Brabant (Telefilm)
This award honours a person or organization that has made a major contribution to promoting gender equality in film, television or screen-based media.
CBC executive vice-president of English services Heather Conway
Heather Conway is responsible for all of CBC/Radio-Canada’s English-language services. In November 2016, Conway announced the CBC’s Breaking Barriers Film Fund to support historically underrepresented filmmakers to access financing and have their voices heard. Conway was also Alliance Atlantis Communications' executive vice-president where she transformed the business model for distribution and increased subscription revenue.
Canada Media Fund president and CEO Valerie Creighton
Creighton is responsible for the Canada Media Fund’s funding programs and 51 partnerships across Canada and in key international markets. The CMF contributes over 371 million dollars to Canadian television and digital media projects in 2105-16. On International Women’s Day, Creighton announced that the Canadian Media Fund would implement a series of new measures aimed at increasing the representation of women working in Canada’s screen-based industries.
Telefilm executive director Carolle Brabant
Brabant is responsible for administering Telefilm’s annual budget supporting feature film development and production. In November last year, Telefilm announced a five-point gender equity plan developed through consultations with the industry and creative talent. Telefilm aims by 2020 to achieve a balanced production portfolio (at all budget levels) that reflects gender parity in each of the key roles of director, writer and producer.
Teamsters Innovation Award: Maja Aro
This award honours a key creator of a recent production or body of work that exemplifies vision, experimentation, and innovation.
Aro, a Vancouver stuntwoman and filmmaker, designed the first ever women's bra harness for stunt flying scenes, which has been used on the production of the U.S. TV series Once Upon a Time. She has worked on films such as Red, The Twilight Saga, The Cabin in The Woods, and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, and the TV shows Once Upon A Time, Supernatural, and Smallville.
Capilano University Film Centre Leadership in Education Award: Karin Lee
This award is presented to a screen-industry teacher who has demonstrated a commitment to creating opportunities for and sharing expertise with female students within an academic or professional development context.
Karin Lee is a Canadian Screen Award–winning filmmaker has also been a leader in educating, training, and mentoring women, youth, people of colour, and indigenous communities in film production, video art, new media, and multimedia.
The Wayne Black Service Award: Meg Thornton
This award honours a major contributor to the screen-based media community while working behind the scenes.
Meg Thornton has contributed to Canada’s media-arts community for over 40 years, both as a film and video artist and as a cultural worker. She has served on innumerable boards and advisory committees (including Women in Focus and Women in Film and Video Vancouver) and has participating on juries for the Canada Council, the BC Arts Council, and the City of Vancouver. She has contributed to the development of Canadian cultural policy through briefs on subjects from the creation of a BC Arts Council to the proposed criteria for the BC Film Fund.
Iris Award: Mark Leiren-Young
The Iris Award is given to a person who has demonstrated a commitment to the promotion of female creators and their screen-based works either through curating or programming or through print and online media sources.
As a journalist, Leiren-Young has written for CBC Radio, TIME, Maclean’s, The Utne Reader, The Hollywood Reporter, The Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, The Toronto Star, and The Vancouver Sun. He’s a regular contributor to The Walrus, The Georgia Straight, the Tyee.ca, and the Chicken Soup for the Soul books.
Finalé Post Production Honoured Friend Award: Paul Armstrong
The Honoured Friend Award recognizes a person who has played a significant role in supporting women in the industry and promoting the goals of WIFTV.
Paul Armstrong, a member of Women in Film since 2000, is an award-winning Vancouver film, television, and theatre producer with more than 45 film producing credits. He is the founder, programmer, and producer of The Celluloid Social Club, a monthly screening of short films, and is the executive director of Crazy8s, the local eight-day filmmaking challenge that has been running since 1999.
Matrix Production Services Image Award: Shauna Johannesen
The Image Award is awarded to a director, writer, editor, or director of photography of an outstanding short work that shows production excellence or a unique, visionary approach.
Shauna Johannesen is an award-winning writer, actor, and filmmaker. Her plays have been produced across Western Canada and her short film "Bedbugs: A Musical Love Story" won Leo Awards for screenwriting and best female actor. Shauna’s newest play Common Grace premiered in 2016 at Pacific Theatre.
Encore Vancouver Newcomer Award: Brianne Nord-Stewart
This award recognizes a new artist or technician, including one who is shifting from one career to another whose first few works have laid the foundation for an inspiring new career.
Brianne writes, directs, edits, and produces films, web-series, commercials, and music videos. She has garnered numerous awards including Shaw Media’s Fearless Female Director Award, The Harold Greenberg Fund’s Shorts-to-Features Award, and the Telus Banff World Media Film Festival Fellowship.
Troika Sharon Gibbon Award: Lucia Cheung
This award honours a member in recognition of her volunteer work with WIFTV advancing the organization’s goals.
Lucia Cheung has been volunteering with WIFTV since 2012. Cheung prepares member ratification tables and comparative membership reports, is involved in the organization of the WIFTV festival ticketing, and assists in the coordination of festival submissions.