Skip Navigation Links

Telefilm Canada releases update on gender parity initiatives

01 August 2019

Increase in overall funding for female directors, producers, and screenwriters, working towards 2020 parity goal

Toronto/ Montréal, August 1st, 2019 – Telefilm Canada has released the results of its gender parity initiatives for projects funded during the 2018/2019 fiscal year.  Overall, there has been an increase in funding for projects with women in key roles (director, producer, and/or screenwriter), both in terms of dollars and volume. In total, $45.5 million was invested in films with at least one woman in a key role during the fiscal year, which represents 59% of all Telefilm’s production funding. The goal made with the support of the industry, is to achieve a balanced production portfolio (at all budget levels) that reflects parity in each of the key creative roles by 2020.

The greatest improvement seen was in the role of the producer, where parity (or parity zone) was reached in all areas, with 61% of all projects signed* having a female lead producer (up from 48% last year). Project volume ranged from 83% in documentaries, 68% in Talent to Watch, 53% in $2.5m+ features, and 46% in $2.5m- features. For lead producer, parity (or parity zone) was also reached in all areas for distribution of funding.

“We are making progress towards reaching a balanced, sustainable representation of women working in key roles behind the camera,” said Christa Dickenson, Executive Director at Telefilm Canada. “In doing so, we are investing more money into female talent, and making sure that their stories are being told. We know we still have work to do to in order to meet our 2020 goal”.

The $2.5m+ features category saw an increase in funding across all key roles.  Projects with a woman working as the lead producer received $23.8 million, which represents 42% of the funding for this budget category. This is an increase of 11 percentage points compared with the 31% share of 2017/2018. In the same budget category, $12.9 million went to projects with a female director (an increase of 5 percentage points, up from 18% to 23% of the funding), and $19.2 million to female-scripted titles (up 13 percentage points, from 21% to 34% of funding).

“Telefilm has increased its investment in higher budget films with women at the helm, and would like to give even more female directors an opportunity to direct a bigger budget feature.  A collaborative approach is necessary so that talent may receive the support it needs,” Dickenson said. “We’re already giving them a calling card by investing in their first and second features at a lower budget level. We also need our distribution partners, producers and broadcasters to join us by supporting more women in the director’s chair for higher budget projects. It is clear that global audiences have an appetite for greater representation in storytelling, and we want to give them as much opportunity as possible, however we cannot do it alone.”

To further promote the range of female talent that exists within Canada, Telefilm invests in an array of initiatives to make women and their projects more visible in the Canadian and international marketplaces. Telefilm has invested in 19 industry partnerships geared towards female filmmakers, including panels and workshops with organizations such as Women in View, Women in the Director’s Chair (WIDC), St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival, and Femmes du cinema, de la television et des medias numériques (FCTMN). Telefilm also hosts an annual gala event, the Birks Diamond Tribute to the Year’s Women in Film, spotlighting the achievements of women making strides in the audiovisual industry. The event, taking place this year in a new format on September 4th, awards the talent with a cash prize while also giving them the opportunity to gain media attention and exposure for their body of work and upcoming projects.

Recent female-fronted projects receiving support from Telefilm include Geneviève Dulude-De Celles’ Une colonie (winner of two Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Picture), Miranda de Pencier’s The Grizzlies (which was released in April and continues a strong theatrical run), Monia Chokri’s La femme de mon frère (which premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, won the jury’s Coup de Coeur award in the Un Certain Regard section and is currently in release in both France and Québec), and Jasmin Mozaffari’s Firecrackers (which has screened at over 23 festivals worldwide, and opened in the United States on July 12). Upcoming titles include Anne Émond’s Jeune Juliette (opening August 9 in Québec), Jen & Sylvia Soska’s re-interpretation of the horror classic Rabid (premiering at UK’s Frightfest), Jovanka Vuckovic’s Riot Girls (opening in theatres and on VOD platforms September 13), Loretta Todd’s Monkey Beach (a powerful adaptation of Eden Robinson’s celebrated novel), Aisling Chin-Yee’s The Rest of Us (starring Heather Graham and Sophie Nélisse), Marie Clements’ feature directorial debut Red Snow, Louise Archambault’s Il pleuvait des oiseaux (which hits screens on September 13), and Semi Chellas’ American Woman (which is receiving a Gala premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival).

Telefilm continues its commitment to create a more inclusive and representative entertainment landscape. New updates to definitions for diversity and inclusion on Telefilm applications will be released later this year, allowing for greater understanding of the scope of voices applying.  Announced in 2016, Telefilm will, for projects of equal quality, prioritize projects whose key creatives (director and/or writer and/or producer) reflect the diversity of the country in terms of gender, Indigenous communities or cultural diversity. Telefilm aims by 2020 to achieve a balanced production portfolio (at all budget levels) that reflects gender parity in each of the key roles.

*Signed refers to projects funded in that specific time period

About Telefilm Canada

Telefilm is dedicated to the cultural, commercial and industrial success of Canada’s audiovisual industry. Through funding and promotion programs, Telefilm supports dynamic companies and creative talent at home and around the world. Telefilm also makes recommendations regarding the certification of audiovisual coproduction treaties to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, and administers the programs of the Canada Media Fund. Launched in 2012, the Talent Fund accepts private donations which principally support emerging talent. Visit and follow us on Twitter at and on Facebook at


– 30 –

Media enquiries:

Brian Mullen
Advisor, Public Relations – English Market
Telefilm Canada

Claire Strunck
Advisor, Public Relations – French Market
Telefilm Canada