November 2020: Women In the Director’s Chair (WIDC) organizers are pleased to announce the eight Canadian directors who will attend the highly acclaimed script development and director mentoring program. WIDC: Story & Leadership begins an extended online edition on November 9 and includes an intensive Industry Immersion at the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Whistler Film Festival. Each director is developing either a debut feature film or an original series.
The director participants include, BC-based multi-disciplinary multi-award-winning artist, Lindsay McIntyre who is developing the feature drama, The Words We Can’t Speak, inspired by her Inuk grandmother; CFC alumna, Liz Cairns who is working on the thriller, Inedia, slated to go to camera in fall 2021, supported by Telefilm Canada, with producer Tyler Hagan (The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open); and UBCP / ACTRA member, Hayley Gray who is developing her feature-length environmental drama Dry Year which received earlier development through the WIDC Short Works Award: Kamloops edition, sponsored by TELUS STORYHIVE.
Logging in to the program from Ontario, ACTRA member, Rachel Cairns is developing her debut feature, Glo, In the Dark, which received Harold Greenberg Fund support earlier this year; ZhiMin Hu is working on her genre-blending feature, Under the Red Umbrella; and executive producer/director of the Streamy award-winning digital series, COLD developed through Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s company, New Form, Emily Diana Ruth is developing the feature-length, I Can’t Even, based on her recent short of the same name.
Developing series projects are, UBCP/ACTRA member, Michelle Muldoon (BC) whose new western drama Last Stand to Nowhere is based on her award-winning short of the same name, and Rachel Beaulieu from the Sandy Bay First Nation in Manitoba, who is developing her debut web series, Coupon Kids.
This year’s WIDC program opens with filmmakers Dr. Dorothy Christian Cucw-la7 and Dr. Rita Shelton Deverell C.M. who will lead a module on equity, diversity and inclusion work. Mentor directors include multi-award-winning WIDC Feature Film Award recipients, Siobhan Devine (The Birdwatcher), Gloria Ui Young Kim (Queen of the Morning Calm) whose debut feature films each bowed at Whistler Film Festival and Sonia Bonspille Boileau (Rustic Oracle) who is in pre-production on a new series with Radio-Canada.
Story & Leadership is also led by a team of experienced instructors and mentors including multiple industry award-winner and WIDC co-creator, Dr. Carol Whiteman who produces and facilitates the program. Returning instructors include, writer and Jungian expert, Dr. Carolyn Mamchur, screenwriter / story consultant Linda Coffey (Never Steady, Never Still, Rustic Oracle), and actor and filmmaker, Lori Triolo (Blackstone, Lost Solace), Veena Sood (A Million Little Things, Welcome to Marwen) and Digital Media & Marketing Mentor, Annelise Larson, who will lead respective sessions on leadership, story development, marketing and working with actors. An ensemble of ACTRA actors from across Canada and ICG cinematographers will also join the program to workshop excerpts from the directors’ original scripts.
During the WFF Industry Immersion part of the program, the eight director participants partake in a first-class industry environment during the fest’s twenty-day run that includes an array of master-classes, artist talks, one to ones, and notably, WFF’s Women In Focus series. WIDC-hosted sessions with industry guests include Mehernaz Lentin (CBC Films), Lauren Davis (Telefilm Canada), independent producer Trish Dolman (Screen Siren), Alan Bacchus (Bell Media’s Harold Greenberg Fund), as well as representatives from the Independent Production Fund, TELUS STORYHIVE, Creative BC, among others who will participate in roundtables and individual meetings with participants.
Also featured at this year’s festival, WIDC alumnae feature films are screening, including Lori Lozinski and Lauren Grant (producers of opening night film Sugar Daddy); Ana de Lara (producer, All-In-Madonna); Ruth Lawrence (director, Little Orphans), Emily Bridger (writer, lead, Little Orphans); and Virginia Abramovich (director, Between Waves), as well as shorts by Anaïsa Visser (The Walking Man) and Jordan Canning (4 Canada A).
Story & Leadership culminates with intensive follow up development on story and marketing materials, and career coaching modules that run through to spring 2021. WIDC receives major financial support from Telefilm Canada. Story & Leadership has also been supported by CBC Films, ACTRA National, UBCP/ACTRA, AFBS, Independent Production Fund and Creative BC.
The Directors (in alphabetical order by last name)
Rachel Beaulieu, MB – (Anishinaabekwe) is from Sandy Bay First Nation in southern Manitoba. She graduated in 2010 from Assiniboine Community College with a diploma in media production, winning two awards recognizing her talent and achievement. Since graduation, Rachel’s work has been influenced by her unique perspective as a First Nations woman. Her aim is to make space for other creators with diverse voices and visions. In 2018, Rachel’s short documentary film, Red River Roots, debuted at the LA Skins Fest (Hollywood) and Gimli Film Festival. Rachel was also selected as a finalist for the inaugural Women In the Director’s Chair, Short Works Award presented in collaboration with the Winnipeg Film Group, for her short film script inspired in part by her grandfather’s experiences in the Canadian Armed Forces. In December 2019, she directed Songs in the Key of Cree, a behind-the-scenes film guided by Cree playwright Tomson Highway, with the support of the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre. Rachel’s narrative short film, Hunger was recently launched to audiences locally around Winnipeg and screened at the Gimli Film Festival (2020 Digital Edition). Rachel is looking forward to developing her first web series, Coupon Kids with the help of the WIDC Story & Leadership program.
Liz Cairns, BC – A graduate of the Director’s Lab at the Canadian Film Centre, award-winning writer and director Liz Cairns’ short films have played at festivals internationally, including TIFF, Austin Film Festival, Interfilm Berlin, Female Eye Film Festival and VIFF, among others. VIFF Programmer, Curtis Woloschuk commented on Liz’s ability to “elicit remarkable performances.” In 2017, Liz was invited to the Berlinale Short Film Station at the Berlinale, one of ten participants selected out of thousands of applicants, to develop the script for her short film Animals Don’t Commit Suicide (currently in post-production). In 2019, Liz’s feature project Inedia was short-listed for the Sundance Screenwriting Lab and is currently being developed by producer Tyler Hagan of Experimental Forest Films and will go into production in the Fall of 2021. Liz is also an in-demand production designer, working on a wide range of projects. She was the production designer on Never Steady, Never Still (TIFF 2017) and The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open (Berlinale 2019). She has been nominated for a Canadian Screen Award and Leo Award for her work. Liz is represented by Carl Liberman at The Characters Agency.
Rachel Cairns, ON – Multi-disciplinary content creator, Rachel Cairns has written, directed and produced multiple award-winning web series and short films that have screened at festivals internationally. Her digital series Mom & Me has had over 7 million views on YouTube and is followed by 15K subscribers. She resonates most with stories that capture the humour and the tragedy of the human experience; to encourage our compassion for each other by finding familiarity in the seemingly unfamiliar. Last year, Rachel earned her first professional writing credit on the CBC digital series Save Me and shadowed director Paul Fox on Anne with an E. Earlier this year she was selected as a producer for the National Screen Institutes prestigious Totally Television Program and recently received support from the Harold Greenberg Fund for the development for her first feature film, Glo, In the Dark. Rachel is also developing a one-woman show about abortion and has directed five audiobooks for Penguin Random House.
Hayley Gray, BC – Living, working and creating on Unceded Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil–Waututh land, born and raised on the traditional territories of the Wyandot, in Kingston, Ontario, producer, writer and director, Hayley Gray grew up in community theatre and activism. She moved to Mi’kmaq traditional territory, Halifax, Nova Scotia to pursue her BA at Dalhousie University where she directed theatre, researched in an addictions laboratory and ran the Dalhousie Women’s Centre. Since making the jump to the West Coast Hayley has completed her training at Vancouver Film School, starred in dozens of commercials and built up a reputation for collaborating with diverse communities. Hayley started her career in production as a production coordinator and has now produced feature films and shorts. Hayley‘s first music video 4 Push Ups won a TELUS grant and premiered at LA Skins Film Festival. Her short film Pass the Salt has won awards at festivals around the world and aired last September as part of CBC’s Short Film Face Off. Her feature script 36 Questions was short listed for The Harold Greenberg Fund and her feature script Blue Sky made it to the Bell Media “It List” as part of the Canadian Film Festival. As a finalist in the 2018 WIDC Short Work Award: Kamloops edition, Hayley developed her short film, Send the Rain with story editor Linda Coffey. This is a proof of concept for the upcoming feature, Dry Year.
ZhiMin Hu, ON – Born and raised in GuangZhou, China, emigrated to Montreal and now living in Toronto, Canada, ZhiMin Hu is an award-winning filmmaker who is fascinated by stories that explore human nature, psychology, and the social aspects of life. With her experience in multi-genre filmmaking, she has grown into a cross-genre storyteller who combines elements from fiction, experimental film, and documentary. Her films have been presented in many international and local film festivals, including the Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner, Fantasia Film Festival, Victoria Film Festival, Montreal World Film Festival, and the CBC FaceOff Short Film Competition. Her short film, I’m Waiting for Mama, won the Best Canadian Short Film Award at Regina International Film Festival and Awards; Sophie’s Letter won a Special Mention Award at TopShorts Film Festival; her feature documentary, Ketchup & Soya Sauce is nominated for 2020 Best Cinematography, Best Director, and Best feature at Vancouver Asian Film Festival; A Cold Summer Night was collected by BAnQ (Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec) for circulation. Her 6-episode TV documentary series, Love is Color Blind, was broadcast on Bell Fibe. ZhiMin was a film critic for a Chinese weekly newspaper and a jury member for both 2020 Black Bird Film Festival and the 2012 Amérasia Film Festival. She is an alumna of the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema (Condordia University) and Women In the Director’s Chair Career Advancement Module.
Lindsay McIntyre, BC – A filmmaker, multi-disciplinary artist and writer of Inuit and settler Scottish origin with a Masters in Film Production from Concordia University and a Bachelors in Fine Arts from the University of Alberta, Lindsay McIntyre was honoured with the REVEAL Indigenous Art Award (Hnatyshyn Foundation 2017), was named the Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award recipient for Excellence in Media Arts and her personal documentary Her Silent Life won Best Experimental Film at imagineNATIVE. Having made 35 short films over the past 20 years, she is transitioning to the field of narrative to make powerful and authentic features and series as a director. Recent projects include the Telus Optik Local documentary Final Roll-Out: The Story of Film, an award-winning short Where We Stand, about the state of analogue film in the digital age, and a monumental projection-mapping public installation on the Vancouver Art Gallery about the legacy of residential schools, If These Walls. Lindsay is also a skilled Cinematographer and has won awards for her production design and for her editing. Her multiple award-winning short documentaries, experimental films and expanded cinema performances are often processed-based, and have competed around the world including at Ann Arbor, Anthology Film Archives, Pleasure Dome, Mono No Aware, Rotterdam, Oberhausen, Analogica, WNDX, imagineNATIVE, Images, Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, Raindance, One Flaming Arrow and Black Maria and can be found in several permanent collections. She is Assistant Professor of Film + Screen Arts at Emily Carr University of Art and Design on unceded Coast Salish territories.
Michelle Muldoon, BC – A writer / director / producer who gravitates to female focused stories Michelle Muldoon has created four short films and two music videos, as well as produced and associate produced two independent feature films. Michelle is interested in stories about the search to find connection through the journey of female protagonists who often subvert traditional gender expectations. Her latest film, Last Stand to Nowhere, was influenced by the films she watched with her father on snowy Sunday afternoons. The Western proof of concept short film screened for two months in the Museum of the Southwest as well as in twenty-two film festivals in six different countries. The film garnered two Leo Award nominations and six festival awards. Michelle was the only female director at the exclusive 2019 Almeria Western Film Festival, a showcase event in the home of the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western classics in Spain. Michelle’s screenplays have won festival recognition at multiple film events including the SOCAL Film Festival and the Las Vegas International Screenwriting Competition, among others. Michelle Muldoon is a past Board Member of Women in Film and Television Vancouver where she created the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival Screenwriting Competition.
Emily Diana Ruth, ON – An emerging Canadian writer and director Emily Diana Ruth’s work often focuses on stories of female coming-of-age and identity, and the stylistic blending of traditional dramatic storytelling with experimental sensibilities. She was one of ten filmmakers chosen for New Form’s second Incubator Series, for which she made a proof-of concept short film, COLD. This project was subsequently expanded into a 10-episode series ordered by Verizon’s go90 platform, which was awarded the 2017 Streamy Award for Best Drama Series. COLD has since been acquired by Blackpills and Amazon Prime. Emily’s most recent work is as an executive producer and writer on Don’t Look Deeper, a series created by Charlie McDonnell and Jeffrey Leiber, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, and starring Helena Howard, Emily Mortimer and Don Cheadle, released on Quibi in Summer 2020. Emily has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from York University’s Film Production and Screenwriting Program. She is represented by Anonymous Content, CAA and Sparks Productions.
Women In the Director’s Chair (WIDC) is an internationally respected Canadian professional development offering, founded in 1997 through an initial collaboration among ACTRA, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and Women In Film and Television Vancouver. WIDC is specially designed to advance the skills, careers and fiction screen projects of women directors. With over 270 director alumnae across Canada who have directed 100’s of hours of quality screen entertainment, WIDC is presented with major support from Telefilm Canada, CBC Films, and appreciates the participation of Creative BC, ACTRA National, UBCP/ACTRA, Actra Fraternal Benefit Society, and the Independent Production Fund.
WIDC also acknowledges the in kind support of Panavision Canada, Sim Complete, Poste Moderne, Keslow Camera Film and Digital, William F. White Intl., Walters Lighting & Grip, North Shore Studios, Encore Vancouver, Technicolor Toronto, Skylab Vancouver, White Hart Productions, The Bridge Studios, Vancouver Film Studios, The Research House Clearances Inc, Descriptive Video Works, Front Row Insurance, National Captioning Canada; Line-21, and community collaborations with 1st Weekend Club, WIFT Vancouver’s International Women In Film Festival, Female Eye Film Festival, St John’s International Women’s Film Festival, and the Whistler Film Festival. Contact: [email protected] | www.widc.ca | facebook.com/widc.ca | @WIDC_ca | #WIDC
About Whistler Film Festival
In 2020, from December 1 to 20, for its 20th edition, the Whistler Film Festival will go online to welcome film fans and filmmakers to experience 89 fresh films, special guests, special events, and unique industry initiatives including its signature Women In Focus series. The Whistler Film Festival combines an international film competition with an intensive Industry Summit dedicated to the art and business of filmmaking in the digital age. WFF also boasts a slate of 11 talent programs for up to 80 Canadian artists including screenwriters, producers, directors, actors and musicians. whistlerfilmfestival.com.