Coming just a day after a pair of stories by the New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis about the challenges facing female filmmakers in Hollywood, BravoFACT, the largest funder of short films in Canada, announced their “Year of the Female Filmmaker.” The funding program for 2015 consists of a number of initiatives meant to develop and encourage female filmmaking talent in Canada.
This announcement of this project is nothing if not timely, following not only the publication of Dargis’ series of articles, but also mere weeks after the announcement of the 2015 Academy Award nominees. While Ava DuVernay’s Selma was nominated for Best Picture, she was not nominated in the directing category, and there were no other nominations for women in the screenwriting or directing categories. In her pieces, Dargis explores the lack of opportunities for female and minority filmmakers in Hollywood (and under the umbrella of that category she targets in particular the six main studios that dominate there) and finds a number of activists and groups that are working to call attention to and solve the problems that pervade mainstream filmmaking.
BravoFACT’s “Year of the Female Filmmaker” looks to support female talent in a number of ways. Most significantly, 50% of it’s allocated funding will be awarded to female-led projects in 2015, amounting to over $1 million. A number of other important parts of the initiative were announced as well, including the first BravoFACT jury anchor of the year, actress and filmmaker Amy Jo Johnson, who is currently completing her debut feature. BravoFACT also announced it’s first ever partnership with Women in Film & Television ATLANTIC, launching an annual female-only short film pitch contest with an award worth $35,000.
For a project to be eligible, it has to have a female producer or director. Three more juries will take place in 2015 to make up the programs four award cycles per year, with two dedicated to scripted short films (BravoFACT) and two dedicated to short documentaries (BravoFACTUAL). The next deadlines are April 1, 2015 for BravoFACTUAL, and June 12, 2015 for BravoFACT.
While BravoFACT serves a small and specific community of filmmakers, it is notable that the program making an effort to ensure that the problems that plague mainstream Hollywood filmmaking don’t trickle down. The funding will help to ensure that Canadian filmmakers are given opportunities to create exciting new projects, and the announcement of the initiative itself is indicative of a growing awareness of the importance of embracing and supporting the work of female filmmakers.