Women In The Director’s Chair (WIDC)
Announces Eight Directors Selected
Career Advancement Module Spring/Summer 2024

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Women In the Director’s Chair (WIDC) organizers are pleased to announce the eight women directors selected to take part in the 2024 spring/summer session of the WIDC Career Advancement Module (CAM).


Presented in collaboration with GEMFest (formerly Vancouver International Women in Film Festival) and Toronto’s Female Eye Film Festival with major support from Telefilm Canada, the CAM sessions run March through July 2024, coinciding with both festivals. In addition to workshop sessions designed to build a strategic career plan, participants receive passes to both festivals’ in-person and online offerings and follow up career coaching which extends through Summer 2024.



This stellar cohort of directors includes Toronto / LA-based ACTRA members:

Hannah Cheesman (Something Undone, Succor) who is developing a genre feature film, currently titled The Door. She is also a DGC and WGC member, a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada, and a 2024 CSA nominee for Best Supporting Performance in a Comedy Feature Film (Hey, Viktor!). “Being surrounded by peers who are working together to build their directing careers in a collaborative and open environment — it’s such a wonderful place to have found myself,” says Cheesman;


Emily Coutts (Star Trek: Discovery) is developing the heartfelt comedy feature film, Rosebud. She is an alumna of the Canadian Film Center’s Acting Program. “I am at a stage where mentorships and building relationships will have a formative impact on my directing career, which is why I am excited to turn to the wonderful community at WIDC for support,” says Coutts.



Vancouver-based directors include UBCP/ACTRA members:

Tricia Collins (Clinch, Reach) is developing the dramatic feature film version of Clinch. She is an alumna of the Bell Media and WGC Diverse Screenwriters program and an MA graduate from Metropolitan University’s RTA School of Media.“Being a part of the WIDC program certainly feels validating as a female director. I am grateful for this opportunity to take my career to the next level,” says Collins;


Jinjara Mitchell (The Ornament, Shattered) is developing the feature drama Last Summer. She has an established voice-over career. “I’m so excited to be a part of this WIDC CAM cohort. It’s an honour to be included in a program that amplifies female and non-binary voices. I look forward to learning and growing as an artist over the next several months,” says Mitchell.



Based in both St. John’s, NL and Toronto: 

Elizabeth Hicks (BOUNCE, JackTV) is also an ACTRA member. She is developing her MJ Award-winning short comedy, I Need to Get This Off My Chest, and the comedy feature film Rosella and Bride. “I feel privileged to be part of WIDC’s CAM program—it is a rare opportunity to connect with and learn from other directors across the country and meet incredible women making waves in this industry,” says Hicks.



Also hailing from Toronto:

Jordana Allen-Shim (Lavender: A Lesbian Love Story, Queer Isolation, Gay As In Happy: A Queer Anti-Tragedy), an award-winning director, writer, editor, and story editor passionate about telling revolutionary stories by, for, and about her racialized LGBT community, is developing a feature-length romantic comedy titled Gay Marriage;


Kristina Mileska (she/her) a Macedonian-Canadian filmmaker who has directed five short films that have screened internationally and collected numerous awards, who is currently developing her debut feature film Summer 2002, a coming of age drama;


Karel Malkoun, a Lebanese-Canadian writer and director with an MFA from York University, who is currently developing her sophomore feature film, the drama/fantasy Wildernesses. “I am so excited to connect to a community of like-minded artists!” says Malkoun. “For me, participating in WIDC CAM also symbolizes breaking free from the newcomer’s loop and paving the way for a fulfilling career in Canada… and a more inclusive future for all of us.”


WIDC alumnae and their work have earned twenty-five 2024 Canadian Screen Awards (CSA) nominations, with nods for CAM alumnae including Best Direction for Winnifred Jong (Pretty Hard Cases), Danishka Esterhazy (SurrealEstate), Eva Thomas (Still Standing), a Best Performance nod for Renée Hackett’s web series What Odds, and four nominations for Dani Pagliarello’s The Drop including Best Fiction Web Series.


Joining a series of Zoom round tables to offer insights into navigating career paths and connecting screen projects with the marketplace will be two award-winning WIDC alumnae directors (TBA).  Guests also include Digital Media and Marketing Mentor, Annelise Larson and industry executives from Telefilm Canada, CBC, Bell Media, Independent Production Fund, and more (TBA).


Delivered online and in-person, WIDC’s specially designed professional development CAM begins with an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in-service led by scholar/ filmmaker Dr. Dorothy Cucw-la7 Christian and Vision TV co-founder, scholar, author, performer, director, Dr. Rita Shelton Deverell C.M. A member of the Order of Canada, Deverell is also a WIDC alumna. Multi award-winning WIDC co-creator and producer, Dr. Carol Whiteman facilitates the CAM and follow up coaching. Host festivals’ offerings supplement the CAM.


“GEMFest is thrilled to partner again with WIDC’s Career Advancement Module. As an alumna of the program (2020) I can honestly say it was one of the best professional development experiences I’ve ever had.” says GEMS.


Vancouver Executive Director, Anaïsa Visser. “We are proud to support the careers of these exceptionally talented filmmakers, and we wish them all the best as they continue to pursue their goals beyond their time at GEMFest.”


Women In the Director’s Chair (WIDC) – first presented in 1997 by ACTRA, The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and Women In Film and Television Vancouver, WIDC is administered by the national non-profit society Creative Women Workshops Association. WIDC offers mentorship for Canadian women screen directors, along with project development and production awards to help them get their narrative stories on screen. With more than 330 award-winning director alumnae across Canada, over the last twenty-six years WIDC has advanced the voices of a generation of women screen directors.


WIDC is presented with major support from Telefilm Canadaand with the participation of Creative BC, ACTRA National, UBCP/ACTRA, Actra Fraternal Benefit Society, Independent Production Fund; WIDC appreciates community collaborations with TIFF, VIFF, Reelworld Film Festival, Vancouver International Women In Film Festival, Female Eye Film Festival, St John’s International Women’s Film Festival, Crazy 8’s, GAT PR, and the Whistler Film Festival.


WIDC Feature Film Award is valued at nearly $250K and is supported by some of Canada’s most influential screen industry companies including MELS Studios, MTL Grande, Keslow Camera, Panavision Canada, William F. White International, JAM POST Inc., Company 3, Elemental Post Productions, North Shore Studios, The Bridge Studios, Vancouver Film Studios, Poste Moderne, Walter Lighting & Grip, The Research House Clearance Services Inc., Descriptive Video Works, Front Row Insurance Brokers Inc, Portable Electric, Signal Services, Champ and Pepper, EP Canada, Line 21 Media Services.


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 or may not identify as women 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 and participants live, work and play.

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