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Canada’s top film financier says it has reached gender parity after helping more women move into local movie producing, directing and screenwriting in key roles.
But Telefilm Canada reported additional data that revealed Black women, Indigenous women and women of color remain woefully under-employed on Canada’s film and TV sets, despite cross-industry pledges for equality and statements of goodwill. “There is still a great deal of work to be done to further support and elevate female and non-binary filmmakers from Indigenous, Black and racialized backgrounds,” Christa Dickenson, executive director and CEO of Telefilm Canada, said in a statement on Wednesday.
The movie funder and other Canadian film and TV financiers have stepped up efforts to support under-represented communities amid calls for greater racial representation in hiring practices on local film and TV sets. Telefilm Canada got into the parity zone, or 50 percent, for women in key creative roles by backing indie movies like Tracey Deer’s Beans, Natalie Krinsky’s The Broken Hearts Gallery and Loretta Todd’s Monkey Beach.
The funder reported 70 percent of projects it financed had at least one woman in a key creative role, consistent with the average over the past three years. And 54 percent of projects had at least two women in key creative roles for Telefilm’s fiscal 2020-21 year, higher than the 47 percent performance last year.
But of 80 projects Telefilm pointed to for having received financing in 2020-21, only nine percent were directed by women self-identifying as Indigenous, nine percent were by self-identifying Indigenous screenwriters and five percent were produced by women self-identifying as Indigenous.
Telefilm reported other data collected from backing projects by racialized creatives after in 2016 announcing that, given projects of equal quality, the funder would favor those whose key creatives — director, screenwriter or producer — reflected the diversity of Canada in terms of gender, Indigenous communities or cultural diversity.
While Canadians have access to a slew of Hollywood movies and U.S. TV shows from Black creators like Scandal, Empire, Dear White People and Black-ish at the local multiplex and on American-based streaming services, local TV dramas and movies written by and starring Black Canadians remain rare. The latest industry data reveals a persistent trend: the Canadian industry has made gains in gender equality, but not for Black or Indigenous women, and has made little progress so far lifting homegrown film and TV projects beyond box-ticking to achieve the wider purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd’s killing a year ago.
“There are still too few films directed by Indigenous and culturally diverse women. We must pursue our efforts to ensure that mindsets are permanently changed, and that the rich spectrum of creativity that exists in our society is represented on our screens. Because parity is not just a matter of gender, it’s a question of fair representation,” Telefilm Canada said as it steps up efforts for diversity and inclusion.
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