Canada Bankrolling More Female Directors to Close Gender Gap

Stories We Tell

Canada (Director: Sarah Polley)

Sarah Polley is both filmmaker and detective as she investigates the secrets kept by a family of storytellers. She unravels the paradoxes to reveal the essence of family: always complicated, warmly messy and fiercely loving.

The National Film Board of Canada, the country's public filmmaker, has promised half the movies it finances will be directed by women.

Those urging Hollywood to close the pay and opportunity gap for women directors should cast an envious eye to Canada.

The National Film Board of Canada, the country's government-funded film producer, on Tuesday announced it will ensure at least half of its productions will be directed by women, and half of all production financing will go towards helping women tell their own stories.

"Today, I’m making a firm, ongoing commitment to full gender parity, which I hope will help to lead the way for the industry as a whole," NFB head Claude Joli-Coeur said in a statement. The public filmmaker backs auteur documentaries, animation, digital projects and feature films by homegrown filmmakers.

Since launching in 1939, the NFB has won 12 Oscars and been nominated 73 times. A recent Canadian study by Women in View concluded Canadian women mostly get to sit in the director’s chair on small film and TV projects, while male colleagues get the big-budget gigs.

Joli-Coeur said films directed by women currently represent around half of the NFB's overall production spending, but numbers fluctuate year-to-year. That commitment comes in the face of recent job losses and closed facilities in response to deep cuts to the NFB's annual appropriation from the federal government.

The public filmmaker's current pic slate includes such releases as Zayne Akyol’s Terre de Roses, Mon Nom Est Guli?stan, Marie Clements’ The Road Forward and Ann Marie Fleming's feature animation Window Horses.

The NFB also backed Sarah Polley's feature documentary Stories We Tell, which won prizes at the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.