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WIDC Names Whistler Eight

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Image supplied by WIDC.

WIDC Names Whistler Eight
by Staff Editors

(November 18, 2022 – Vancouver, BC) Women In the Director’s Chair (WIDC) organizers have announced the eight Canadian directors selected to attend the Women In the Director’s Chair Story & Leadership program, presented in collaboration with the Whistler Film Festival.

Five of this year’s Story & Leadership cohort of directors are award-winning ACTRA members, including Toronto-based Liz Whitmere (Designated Survivor, The Changeling) who is developing the feature drama Loved By You, Supinder Wraich (Sort Of, Private Eyes) developing the feature 4th of July, and Sam Coyle director of award-winning web series, (Avocado Toast the series, Dating Unlocked) who is developing the sci-fi thriller, Audrey 2.0 about an aging actress navigating life with her AI double.

UBCP/ACTRA members, CSA-winner Sarah Strange known for her roles in Loudermilk, Snowpiercer and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, is developing the Queer rom-com series, Funambulist Falling, while Luvia Petersen (Van Helsing, Riverdale) is developing the feature-length psychological thriller Human Nature, which also earned Petersen WIDC’s 2022 Advantage Award for a first-time low-budget feature, and a spot in the WIFTV Genre Lab.

Also developing their debut feature films are documentary and short filmmakers including Nigerian-born Nova Scotia-based Osas Eweka-Smith, who is developing the drama The Road To Back Home; Yukon Territory-based Naomi Mark (How to Bee), developing the dark comedy Lucky Baby; and based in Toronto, multi-award-winner Nika Belianina is developing her comedy feature, Doing Time In Paradise.

“Telefilm Canada is proud to continue its support of the Women In the Director’s Chair (WIDC) program for mid-career and non-binary directors and writer-directors,” said Francesca Accinelli, Interim Executive Director and CEO of Telefilm Canada. “We want to thank and congratulate WIDC for its continued support of diverse voices in film.”

“Over 330 women and non-binary individuals have benefited from the WIDC program,” said Eleanor Noble, President ACTRA National. “Over 25% of alumnae directors [overall] are ACTRA members who have taken their performing skills to the next level and are creating and directing original work that engages other members!”

“This is the 9th year of our collaboration with WIDC that continues to deliver significant results. It’s gratifying to see previous participants returning with projects they’ve developed through the program, as mentors, and guest speakers,” says Angela Heck, Executive Director, Whistler Film Festival.

Mentors for this session of WIDC include multi-award-winning writer/director Mina Shum (Mediation Park, the Wire), and screenwriter/story consultant Karen Walton (Orphan Black, Ginger Snaps). Instructors also include actor and filmmaker, Lori Triolo (Blackstone, Lost Solace), actor/instructor, Veena Sood (Children Ruin Everything), and Digital Media & Marketing Mentor, Annelise Larson, who will lead sessions on leadership, story development, working with actors and marketing. An ensemble of ACTRA actors from across Canada along with ICG cinematographers, Kim Derko csc (Save Me; The Next Step), and Daytime Emmy winner, Gayle Ye (Odd Squad, Mobile Unit), will also join the program, workshopping excerpts from the directors’ original scripts. WIDC co-creator and producer, Dr. Carol Whiteman facilitates, and leads follow up mentorships for the program.

During the WFF Industry Immersion part of the program, the eight director participants partake in a first-class industry environment (virtual and in-person) that includes an array of master classes, artist-talks, one-to-ones, and notably, WFF’s Women In Focus series. WIDC-hosted sessions also include industry guests from Telefilm Canada, Bell Media, CBC Films, the Independent Production Fund, and Creative BC, among others who will participate in roundtables and individual meetings with participants.

The 2022 Whistler Film Festival, which takes place November 30 through December 4 and online until January 2, 2023, will also showcase WIDC alumnae feature films by Jules Koostachin (Broken Angel), KC Carthew (Polaris) and Madison Thomas’ doc, Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On! Gloria Mercer’s short Smoke Eater also plays the festival, while alumnae Marie Clements, Rebecca Gibson, KC Carthew, Jules Koostachin will be featured speakers. Story & Leadership culminates with intensive follow up development of story and marketing materials, and career coaching modules that run through to spring 2023.

WIDC receives major financial support from Telefilm Canada. Story & Leadership is also supported by ACTRA National, AFBS, the Independent Production Fund, and Creative BC.