Swords and Sceptres: The Rani of Jhansi at VIWFF 2019

If there is one film to see this year, it would be this one! Swords and Sceptres: The Rani of Jhansi, directed by Swati Bhise, is a story that brings strong women of history to the forefront. This film is a brutal and honest depiction of what happened both in Britain as well as India around 1850. The relevance of this story is perfectly fitting for today much like when the award-winning film Lagaan was released, but instead follows the journey of a Queen who leads her army to rebel against the East India Company. The cinematography provides captivating colour and vibrancy, much like the Bollywood film Jodha Akbar, while still capturing the brutal strength of the Jhansi army and the terror they face.

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Still from Swords and Sceptres: The Rani of Jhansi

Swords and Sceptres: The Rani of Jhansi also contains many subtle yet powerful moments for women including them as soldiers, fighting the customs of a widow and fighting the suppression of a woman’s intellect on both the British side and the India side. On top of that, Bhise brilliantly manages to create clear parallels between the two Queens which is rarely ever shown when depicting the fight of independence between India and Britain.

Finally, the use of English and Hindi was beautifully done with the inclusion of subtitles. This is very rarely done well without cringing when seeing actors poorly attempt to speak either language fluently in Indian storytelling. This was not the case when watching this film. These filmmakers did an excellent job at fusing the two languages to make this story easy to watch for both English and Hindi speakers.  The acting in both English and Hindi is seamless and incredibly moving without taking away from the story.

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Still from Swords and Sceptres: The Rani of Jhansi

In my opinion, this film is of similar calibre to past award-winning films and should be treated as such.   If you like historical stories about royalty filled with action-packed sword fighting and powerful women leading the way then this film is one not to be missed! Be sure to attend the world premiere of Swords and Sceptres: The Rani of Jhansi!

Written by: Aliza Vellani, a Vancouver based Actor and Board Member for Women in Film and Television.

Catch the World Premiere of Swords and Sceptres: The Rani of Jhansi at the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival at 2:30 PM on Sunday, March 10th. Click here for tickets!

Connections and Community with Trickers and Writers Vancouver Participants

Launched in August 2017, Tricksters and Writers is a screenwriting program for Indigenous women, organized by WIFTV in collaboration with Doreen Manuel (Secwepemc/Ktunaxa First Nations filmmaker, and Director of the Nat and Flora Bosa Centre for Film & Animation) and Peggy Thompson (screenwriter, Director of WIFTV’s Board). The program was delivered over three phases including instructional and networking sessions, story editing sessions and actor table read workshops.

As phase three of the program came to a close, a group of programs participants, organizers and supporters gathered at the Skwachays Lodge Indigenous Arts Hotel in Gastown Vancouver.


Trickser party

Hosted by one of the program’s sponsors, Matrix Production Services, participants took the opportunity to share stories about their experiences in the program.

10745563568_IMG_1494“I loved the sense of community attending the workshops and hearing everyone’s stories in a respectful and safe environment. On a personal level, I feel I have come out of the program with a better understanding of myself. So much was lost due to my grandfather being removed from his culture as a child. Now, I feel a greater sense of permission to not just write more openly, from the core of myself and the way my Indigenous heritage has shaped that, but to continue to ask questions and learn more about where I come from and my family history and culture. This program has been life changing for me. It’s made my writing voice stronger and also put me on a path of discovery. I sincerely hope this opportunity is offered to others in the future. “ – Marcy Waughtal


“What an incredible experience with Tricksters and Writers, to be mentored and guided as I wrote my first feature. Perfectly paired with script editor, and incredible actors for the table read Trickster’s has provided opportunity and support and accountability. I’m grateful to have this support with Women In Film and feel much more confident as an emerging filmmaker.” – Jenifer Brousseau




“I absolutely loved my time in this program I was able to focus and develop the rest of my feature film script, I made amazing connections and am a strong believer in the success and need for a program like this all over Canada!!, Thank you to all the funders who believe in authentic indigenous stories and women empowering women!” – Jessie Anthony




“Tricksters and Writers came at a perfect time in my life. It helped me focus on screenwriting rather than novel writing, which is what I wanted to do anyways. One of the best decisions I’ve made was to apply for this program.” – Joy Haskell




Program participants also included: Sarah Stupar and Sarah Kelly


With support from the City of Vancouver, five scripts will be further workshopped at an event on March 6th at the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival.

WIFTV is accepting applications until March 1st, 2019 for the next edition of the Tricksters and Writers Vancouver Feature Film Writing Program for Indigenous Women. Click here for details!



















Women in Film and Television Vancouver Mentorship Offers Aspiring Actors a Boost

Women in Film and Television Vancouver (WIFTV) is proud to announce that twenty-one up and coming Vancouver actors have been selected to participate in the 2019 WIFTV Actor Career Mentorship Program. Launched by Vancouver Actor Krista Magnusson (Limitless, Lost Solace, Bloody Knuckles) in 2013, the Actor Career Mentorship aims to provide women actors with guidance and support as they work to advance their careers.

“I’m thrilled that with this group, over 100 women have now been in the program as mentees!” said Magnusson, “That is no small feat and it must be noted that it is truly a community effort. From the 37 mentors that have been involved to the 12 jury members, to the countless agents putting me in touch with all these people & more, it could not be done without everyone recognizing the importance & long-term impact a mentor can have on a person & career. As Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”

This year’s jury included Magnusson, Actor & creator of Jeb Beach & Associates, Jeb Beach (Travelers, To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before), and award-winning Casting Director, Candice Elzinga (When Calls the Heart, Man in the High Castle). The jury chose twenty-one mentees for this round, out of 34 successful applicants were chosen for their ability to clearly articulate their career intentions and goals for the program, and who demonstrated initiative towards finding and creating their own work, as well as efforts towards solving career challenges.

“It was truly an honour to be invited to be a part of the decision-making process for the WIFTV Mentorship Program.” expressed Beach. “I was highly impressed at the level of passion, drive, and commitment of so many worthy actors. No doubt the added ingredient of generous guidance from those who have found their way will be a major positive influence on the careers and lives of the mentees. Vancouver’s Film and TV community is lucky to have such a valuable program.”

This year’s matches are:

Mentor                                                                        Match
Aliza Vellani                                                                Kaylah Zander
Anne Marie DeLuise                                                 Treychel Anderson
Brittney Wilson                                                          Kassidee Campbell
Bronwen Smith                                                          Maegen Eastwood
Camille Sullivan                                                         Stephanie Izsak
Carly Pope                                                                   Hannah Drew
Chelah Horsdal                                                           Yvette Benson
Crystal Lowe                                                                Janet Walmsley
Fiona Vroom                                                                Frédérique Roussel
Jennifer Spence                                                           Kristina Lao
Jennifer Copping                                                         Bailey Olson
Jill Morrison                                                                 Tracy Varju
Keegan Connor Tracy                                                 Vivian Davidson
Kristin Lehman                                                            Kayla Deorksen
Lisa Durupt                                                                   Catherine Lonsdale
Loretta Walsh                                                               Jennifer Pielak
Luvia Petersen                                                              Ana Maria Carrizales
Nicole Oliver                                                                 Katherine Alpen
Pascale Hutton                                                              Keara Barnes
Priscilla Faia                                                                  Caitlin McCarthy
Tammy Gillis                                                                 Leslie Appleton

The program runs from January to July 2019. Mentees will work on their individual goals, most commonly involving insight into relationship building, how to build a long-term career, developing their own projects, branding, and work/life balance as the pairs meet for one hour, once a month, for six months. Mentees will also take part in a monthly volunteer placement, outside the film industry at the Vancouver Food Bank, as a way to give back to the community.

Applications for the 2020 edition of the WIFTV Actor Career Mentorship Program will open in October 2019. Details will be available at www.womeninfilm.ca.