Canada Media Fund, National Film Board promise more funding for women-led film projects

A screenshot from Deepa Mehta's 2008 film Heaven on Earth. While Mehta has achieved great success as a director, women are still underrepresented in key roles in film media.

Women working in audio-visual media may have more opportunities coming their way, as funding organizations promise more cash for projects involving women.  

The Canada Media Fund announced on International Women’s Day measures that would ensure CMF-funded projects have more women in key roles.

According to CMF’s statistics, of the projects it currently funds, women make up 39 per cent of producers, 34 per cent of writers and only 17 per cent of directors.

To address this, the CMF has come up with a number of concrete measures, including requiring broadcasters to commit to a certain percentage of projects to have at least 15 per cent of directors, showrunners, producers and writers be made up of women, and partnering up with unions to create incentives in the industry to open up career paths for women in crew positions.

“We hold the view that female-led stories and ideas are available to our content makers. We believe that the talent and skill are out there,” said Valerie Creighton, President and CEO of CMF in a statement. “We only need to level the playing field, so new opportunities for women can be triggered.”

The National Film Board of Canada also released updates on its goal of reaching gender parity in 2019. The organization announced in 2016 that they are aiming for women to direct 50 per cent of their projects, and that half of  the projects they fund be produced by women.

The NFB said on March 7 that last year, 44 per cent of NFB productions were directed by women and five per cent were by mixed-gender teams. Of their production spending, 43 per cent went to women-directed projects and 15 per cent went to mixed teams.

In other categories though, women are still very underrepresented. In cinematography and composing, women made up 12 and 13 per cent of workers on NFB-funded projects, respectively.

To address this, the NFB says it will be teaming up with various activist organizations and professional guilds to seek more female talent from these categories.