8 Directors Selected for WIDC Story + Leadership Program 2022

Eight Canadian Directors To Develop Original Content at WIDC Story & Leadership

November 2022 (Vancouver BC), Women In the Director’s Chair (WIDC) organizers are pleased to announce 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. Human Nature 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,” says 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 Dr. Dorothy Cucw-la7 Christian and Dr. Rita Shelton Deverell C.M. who lead a module on equity, diversity and inclusion work; writer and Jungian expert, Dr. Carolyn Mamchur, 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 Saint-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.

WIDC recognizes the term Woman/Women is in an evolution of language and note that our intention in our use is to be fully inclusive of underrepresented persons who may identify as she / her and or they / them and share the goals and values of WIDC to promote these marginalized voices and stories.  Further, we gratefully acknowledge that the WIDC program originates from the traditional and unceded lands of the Coast Salish people, including the xmkym (Musqueam), Swxwu7mesh (Squamish), and slilwta (Tseil-wau-tuth) Nations. We also acknowledge the Indigenous Nations on whose traditional lands our guests, participants, and colleagues live, work and create. We commit to working together in the spirit of collaboration and respect for the generations that came before, those living now, and the generations to come.

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About WIDC
Founded in 1996/97, Women In the Director’s Chair (WIDC) is an internationally respected Canadian professional development offering, specially designed to advance the skills, careers and fiction screen projects of women directors. With 230 director alumnae across Canada, who earn hundreds of awards and nominations for their work annually. Co-created by representatives of ACTRA, Women In Film and Television Vancouver, and The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity which was its home venue for eighteen years, WIDC is presented with major support from Telefilm Canada, and with the participation of Creative BC, Actra Fraternal Benefit Society, ACTRA National, Independent Production Fund.

WIDC appreciates community collaborations with the National Film Board, Vancouver International Women in Film Festival, Female Eye Film Festival, St John’s International Women’s Film Festival, Reelworld Film Festival and Screen Institute, Crazy 8’s, TIFF, VIFF, Weengushk Film Institute, and the Whistler Film Festival. The WIDC Feature Film Award is supported by SIM International, Keslow Camera, Panavision Canada, William F. White International, Encore VFX, Kaslo Studios Vancouver, Elemental Post, North Shore Studios, The Bridge Studios, Vancouver Film Studios, The Research House Clearance Services Inc., MELS Studios, Front Row Insurance, Descriptive Video Works, Line 21 Media Services, Power of Babel, EP Canada, Portable Electric.

WIDC Contact: enquiries@widc.ca | www.widc.ca | facebook.com/widc.ca | @WIDC_ca | #WIDC

About Whistler Film Festival
From November 30 to January 2, WFF will deliver an in-person and online event with an inclusive program that both facilitates the human connections we crave and is accessible to national audiences from the comfort of their homes. Tickets, packs and passes are on sale now at whistlerfilmfestival.com


  •   November 30 to December 4 (WHISTLER): In-person screenings, conversations with top talent, lively celebrations, awards, and time to explore round out this cinematic celebration in North America’s premier mountain resort destination.
  •   December 5 – January 2, 2023 (ONLINE): WFF22 moves online to connect audiences across Canada by streaming a selection of the festival’s best titles. Some restrictions apply.
  •   November 30 – December 8 (WHISTLER + ONLINE): The industry-focused Content Summit serves up a unique hybrid event, starting with a robust four-day calendar of in-person programming, keynotes, panel discussions, workshops, and networking events in Whistler, BC. Can’t make it to Whistler? A selection of industry sessions and virtual meetings will also be available to online industry pass holders.

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