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Entertainment | Media Release

Media Release: Women Filmmakers Rise to the Top at Whistler Film Festival

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Susan Cartsonis confirmed for Women on Top Keynote. WFF features a record number of films directed by women and female participation in talent programs plus three female-focused awards. Media Release (11/27/2017) Whistler, BC - At a time when the call for gender parity is more prevalent than ever, the Whistler Film Festival (Nov 29 - Dec 3) is proud to present an unprecedented number of female focused films, talent, events, and awards throughout its 2017 programs. To mark its commitment to championing women in the industry, and to celebrate the women directors and talent at this year's festival, female filmmakers and industry leaders will ascend to the top of Whistler Mountain for WFF’s second annual Women on Top Keynote and Breakfast on December 2 sponsored by Whistler Blackcomb. The Whistler Film Festival is pleased to screen 14 feature films and 16 short films directed by women, which makes up 30% of this year’s film programming, the highest percentage for the festival to date. WFF is also honoured to have 40 Canadian females out of 82 (49%) participating in 11 different talent programs, including 14 directors, 5 producers, 4 screenwriters, 9 filmmakers, 3 actors, and 5 musicians in bands in the Music Showcase.

WFF’s Women on Top keynote address will be delivered by American film producer and co-founder of Resonate Entertainment Susan Cartsonis, who was named “one of the top five grossing producers of the year” by The Hollywood Reporter, in the year her film WHAT WOMEN WANT became the highest grossing romantic comedy of all time at the time of its release and remains number two to this day. Cartsonis has also produced THE DUFF, BEASTLY, WHERE THE HEART IS, and AQUAMARINE, as well as executive produced MIDDLE SCHOOL, INVISIBLE SISTER, and NO RESERVATIONS. Her most recent films produced include CARRIE PILBY, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2016, and DEIDRA & LANEY ROB A TRAIN, a Netflix Original Film which premiered at Sundance 2017. She is currently executive producing The Disney Channel musical FREAKY FRIDAY THE MUSICAL.

"It's not unreasonable to expect that women should be 50 percent of those creating content, considering more than 50 percent of us are consuming the content," says Cartsonis. “I think it's really important that women mentor both men and women. I'm well aware that some encouragement, direction and advice can change the course of your life. And when women mentor men, we change the way they view the abilities of women."

Cartsonis was an executive at 20th Century Fox for nearly a decade and rose from script reader to Senior VP of Production. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and serves on the Independent Committee of the Producer’s Guild. She teaches Advanced Producing at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and is strong advocate for female representation in front and behind the camera. She is a frequent speaker on the economic argument for female inclusion in media.

Greetings and updates at the Women on Top event will be delivered from public agencies that have initiated new policies for gender equality. The roster includes Creative BC CEO Prem Gil, Canada Media Fund President and CEO Valerie Creighton, National Film Board of Canada’s Executive Producer of Pacific and Yukon Centre Shirley Vercruysse and Telefilm Canada Feature Film Executive - English-language Market Stephanie Azam as well as current Women in Film and Televisions Chair of Advocacy Committee and Vancouver Honorary Lifetime Member, filmmaker and UBC professor, Sharon McGowan.

The Whistler Film Festival is poised to help elevate efforts to increase women working together across the entertainment industry. In addition to the talented content creators attending the festival in support of their films and projects, WFF will also host industry elite including actress and Borsos Jury member Camille Sullivan, award winning director and WFF alumni Ingrid Veninger with PORCUPINE LAKE, first time feature director Jackie English with BECOMING BURLESQUE, Darcy Hennessey Turenne, director of WFF’s closing gala film THE MOMENT, Sarah Rotella director NOBODY FAMOUS, Michelle Ouellet director PRODIGALS, acclaimed director Éva Gardos with BUDAPEST NOIR, first time feature directors and WFF alumni Hannah Cheesman and Mackenzie Donaldson with THE DEFINITES, acclaimed director Camille Thoman with the American Indie selection NEVER HERE, Kyra Sedgwick director of STORY OF A GIRL, award winning director Eisha Marjara with VENUS, American director Lori Stoll with HEAVEN’S FLOOR, Gail Harvey director of NEVER SAW IT COMING, and Jordan Canning and Renuka Jeyapalan co-directors of ORDINARY DAYS. Add to that industry leaders from all of Canada’s public agencies and the high level female executives that will be attendance, including Kim Fox - Partner, MadRiver Pictures, Christina Rogers - Director, Content Acquisitions, Netflix, Kristin Harris - VP, Acquisitions and Distribution, Good Deed Entertainment, Joanna Miles - VP, Marketing, Films Canada, eOne, Viviana Zarragoitia - Vice President, Three Point Capital, Amanda Archibald - VP, International Marketing and Publicity, IM Global, Gosia Kamela - Production Executive, Drama & Feature Film Original Programming, Bell Media, Christina Davila - Creative Executive, Stage 13/Warner Bros Digital Network, Tania Natscheff - Director of Programming, VICE Media Inc. and many more.

WFF is thrilled to host the Variety 10 Screenwriters to Watch class of 2017 which is primarily comprised of women screenwriters. The seven female screenwriters being honoured include Liz Hannah, THE POST; Hallie Meyers-Shyer, HOME AGAIN; Maggie Betts, NOVITIATE; Tracy Oliver - co-wrote GIRLS TRIP, Dorothy Blyskal - “THE 15:17 TO PARIS”, and Sarah Ruhl, MY LIFE ON THE ROAD. Maggie Betts, Tracy Oliver and Dorothy Blyskal will be attending the festival.

“The Whistler Film Festival’s female focused initiatives are aligned with several industry wide mandates launched last year, and we are committed to promoting the shared goal of breaking the celluloid ceiling and increasing the number of women in the director’s chair, addressing the imbalance of industry diversity behind the camera and supporting the collaborative efforts to bring more female written and directed narratives to screen,” says Shauna Hardy Mishaw, WFF Executive Director. “With strong representation both in front of and behind the camera in our films, and talent programs this year, Whistler is maintaining a timely leadership role for women in the industry, when the need is not only apparent, the collective is calling for it.“

WFF Feature Films directed or co-directed by women:

BECOMING BURLESQUE (Canada) Dir. Jackie English
THE MOMENT (Canada) Dir. Darcy Hennessey Turenne
NEVER SAW IT COMING (Canada) Dir. Gail Harvey
NOBODY FAMOUS (Canada) Dir. Sarah Rotella
PRODIGALS (Canada) Dir. Michelle Ouellet
BUDAPEST NOIR (Hungary) Dir Éva Gárdos
THE DEFINITES (Canada) Dir. Hannah Cheesman & Mackenzie Donaldson
NEVER HERE (United States) Dir. Camille Thoman
STORY OF A GIRL (United States) Dir. Kyra Sedgwick
VENUS (Canada) Dir. Eisha Marjara
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ANDRÉ (United States) Dir. Kate Novack
PORCUPINE LAKE (Canada) Dir. Ingrid Veninger
HEAVEN’S FLOOR (Canada, United States) Dir. Lori Stoll
ORDINARY DAYS (Canada) Dir. Jordan Canning, Kris Booth, Renuka Jeyapalan

WFF Short Films directed or co-directed by women:

THE STAKEOUT (Canada) Dir. Jax Smith
NEGATIVE SPACE (France/US) Dir. Ru Kuwuhata and Max Porter
WE FORGOT TO BREAK UP (Canada) Dir. Chandler Levack
BFF (Canada) Dir. Sofia Auza
GOOD GIRLS DON’T (Canada) Dir. Ana de Lara
MONDAY (Canada) Dir. Liz Levine
LOLZITA (Canada) Dir. Katie Boland
THE BURDEN (MIN BÖRDA) (Sweden) Dir. Niki Lindroth von Bahr
DEAR HATETTS (Canada) Dir. Kerry Barber
SHADES OF WINTER: CROSSROADS (Austria) Dir. Sandra Lahnsteiner
UNINTENTIONAL MOTHER (Canada) Dir. Mary Galloway
WAITING FOR LOU (EN ATTENDANT LOU) (Canada) Dir. Katerine Martineau
FLOATING LIGHT (Canada) Dir. Natalie Murao
VIOLET AND JUNE (Canada) Dir. Linnea Ritland
THE BUTTERFLY (Canada) Dir. Andy Alvarez

Media inquiries, please contact:

Jacki St. Thomas | Account Executive I Jive Communications | 310.625.7799

The Whistler Film Festival Society is a charitable cultural organization dedicated to furthering the art of film by providing programs that focus on the discovery, development and promotion of new talent culminating with a must attend festival for artists, industry and audiences in Whistler. Find out more at


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