Commitment from the National Film Board of Canada that 50 percent of its production budget will go to films directed by women
On March 8, 2016, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) announced that it will be ensuring that over the next three years, half of its productions will be directed by women and half of all production spending will be allocated to films directed by women.
In making this commitment, the NFB is working toward growing the number of women in Canadian media, both on-screen and behind the scenes, and building on its leadership role in women’s cinema in Canada.
The issue of gender equality in film has been a longstanding issue within the industry. For instance, the non-for-profit organization Women in View released a 2015 report that stated that, in the Canadian film industry, only 17 percent of directors, 22 percent of writers, and 12 percent of cinematographers were women in a sample of 91 feature films made in 2013 to 2014.
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This commitment will be integrated over the next three years to ensure that gender equality is established as the status quo by 2019. This will involve the implementation of tools to monitor and track gender representation in all National Film Board of Canada (NFB) projects in 11 studios, including an internal process to keep track of gender in all key positions (director, writer, producer, editor, and director of photography). All recorded information will be posted annually on the NFB website to ensure transparency and accountability.
The NFB's spending for the 2015-16 fiscal year was for 43.4 percent of productions directed by women and 43.5 percent for films directed by men (with 11.3 percent for mixed-gender teams and 1.8 percent not allocated). Those numbers for women were up from the previous year (2014-15) which was 41.7 percent for women and 47.8 for men.
Currently, fifty-five percent of the NFB’s producers and executive producers are women, with 66 percent of upper management and 70 percent of NFB board of trustee positions held by women.
Among the diverse films produced by the NFB, some of its notable films by female filmmakers include, but are not limited to, Sarah Polley’s ‘Stories We Tell', Alanis Obomsawin’s ‘Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance’, and Mina Shum’s ‘Ninth Floor’. This effort is a contemporary extension of the NFB’s pioneering Studio D efforts in 1974, which devoted itself to films by women. New female-directed films coming up soon from the NFB include Alethea Arnaquq-Baril’s ‘Angry Inuk’, Andrea Dorfman’s ‘160 Girls’, and Ann Marie Fleming’s ‘Window Horses’.
For its next periodic report in 2020, Canada will report back and provide further information on the implementation of this newly announced measure.
The result expected from this commitment is that the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) will achieve gender parity in its productions and in the allocation of its production spending. The NFB reported that in 2016-17, the numbers are projected to be well above that. However it recognized that numbers can fluctuate as there have been good years and lean years for women’s filmmaking at the NFB. The ongoing commitment to full gender parity announced by the NFB is also designed to help to lead the way for the film industry as a whole. For its next periodic report in 2020, Canada will report back and provide further information on the implementation of this newly announced measure.