Filmmaker Attiya Khan at GFF 2017

A World to Gain: Gender Parity at Gimli Film Fest 2018

Movies are a mirror to our world… nothing if not a reflection of the times. And it is the duty of good film programmers to consider what films reflect our current zeitgeist, what films make bold new innovations in the art of cinema, and what films help us envision a better and more equitable future for all of humankind.

At the same time, the film production industry is one – like many – that has seen injustice, imbalance of power, and unfair representation that has become shockingly obvious in recent years. In an effort to help right these historic wrongs and embrace a more inclusive future for cinema, the Gimli Film Festival is proud to announce today a series of new initiatives that are geared towards increasing representation of female-driven cinema at our festival.

In an effort to take serious strides towards gender parity, the Gimli Film Festival has pledged that 40-60% of all films screened at our 2018 festival will be directed or written by women. We hope this will ensure fair representation while still allowing our programming team flexible margins to program only the best films available.

Filmmaker Attiya Khan at GFF 2017

As part of this effort, the Gimli Film Festival is presenting The Future is Female* Film Series, which highlights brand new feature films by up-and-coming female directors from across Canada and the world.  This series will also feature a number of visiting woman filmmakers from Canada and beyond, yet TBA. This important new series has been made possible by a collaborative sponsorship from Manitoba’s film production companies, including Original Pictures, Inferno Pictures, Black Watch Entertainment, Buffalo Gal Pictures, Canadian Media Producers Association, Farpoint Films, Frantic Films, Media RendezVous, and Rebecca Gibson.

The Gimli Film Festival is also excited to announce a new emerging female filmmaker outreach project, called the The Future is Female* Mentorship Program – presented in part by Canadian women-in-media advocacy organization Women in View. Interested local emerging female directors, actors, producers, writers and media artists are encouraged to apply to this program through our website. Selected individuals will be offered free transportation to and from a bevy of events at the Friday of our festival, including a series of female-directed film screenings with filmmaker Q&As, a panel discussion about women in cinema, a networking reception to meet out-of-town guests, and more. This program is available to any woman-identifying persons that are interested and available to attend the festival on Friday, July 27th, 2018.

And while long overdue, these efforts to increase female representation in cinema are still desperately important today. In their latest 2015 study, Women in View –a Canadian not-for-profit organization dedicated to strengthening gender and cultural diversity on screen – found that of all Telefilm funded projects for 2013-14, women only accounted for 17% of directors (17 of 103); 22% of writers (29 of 133) and 12% of cinematographers (11 of 91) credited.

In Hollywood the stats are far worse. On the top 100 grossing films of 2017, women represented only 8% of directors, 10% of writers, 2% of cinematographers, 24% of producers and 14% of editors. And as American independent filmmaker Emma Piper-Burket notes in her film #bestdirectors, typical lists of “The Best Directors of All-Time” frequently are comprised of an all-male cast.

The good news is things are changing! In late-2016, Telefilm implemented new gender parity measures for their feature film production financing. The same time a year later in 2017, Telefilm announced that 44% of projects in production had a female director attached, 46% feature a female screenwriter and 51% had a female producer. This 12-month turnaround is obvious proof that change is as simple as making a conscious decision to implement it.

It’s also important to recognize that while these initiatives are aimed at increasing woman-identified representation in cinema, we will all gain by envisioning a more equitable world. In the recent study The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in the United States, the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) found that every US state and city can add at least 5 percent to their GDP by advancing the economic potential of women.

This is key to the Gimli Film Festival’s belief in creating a film festival that is respectful of artists, pays proper artist fees to all filmmakers and presents diverse and inclusive programming that reflects the cultural mosaic of Canada. By embracing and encouraging those historically marginalized from our cinematic institutions, we have a world to gain.