That’s A Wrap on VIWFF 2019

The 14th Annual Vancouver International Women in Film Festival was a great success. Over six days we screened 47 films to almost 3000 people and engaged audience, filmmakers and industry professionals in a variety of conversations.

The festival hosted a number of moderated discussions and we were so pleased to have international filmmakers in attendance for these.


(L-R) Moira Simpson, Helen Granqvist, & Peggy Thompson. Photo courtesy of Corey Malone Creative

Helen Granqvist (middle) travelled to the festival from Sweden. The Feminist, a film she produced, screened on International Women’s Day. She is seen here in a post-screening discussion with Moira Simpson (local documentary filmmaker) and Peggy Thompson (local screenwriter and founding member of WIFTV).

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Swati Bhise and Aliza Vellani. Photo Courtesy of Leigh Peterson Photography.

Swati Bhise travelled from New York to be with us for the world premiere of her film, Swords and Sceptres: The Rani of Jhansi. She is seen here talking to Aliza Velani, actor and member of WIFTV’s Board.

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Photo Courtesy of Leigh Peterson Photography.

Audience members kept her busy with interesting questions to which she eloquently replied.

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Photos courtesy of Leigh Peterson Photography.

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Warrior Women and Biidaaban (The Dawn Comes) moderated by Doreen Manuel. Photo Courtesy of Wonderful Ida (Ida Adamowicz)

The Warrior Women team (director Beth Castle and subject Marcela Gilbert) travelled from North Dakota and joined us in many festival events including their post-screening Q&A moderated by special guest Doreen Manuel and filmmaker Amanda Strong (far right) whose short film, Biidaaban (The Dawn Comes) screened with Warrior Women on opening night.

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(L-R) Elizabeth Castle, Doreen Manuel, & Marcella Gilbert. Photo Courtesy of Wonderful Ida (Ida Adamowicz).

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(L-R) Amanda Strong & Doreen Manuel. Photo Courtesy of Wonderful Ida (Ida Adamowicz).

Oher visiting filmmakers included Are You My Mommy producers and performers Paula Jean Hixson, Neil Napier who travelled here from L.A.

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(L-R) Neil Napier &Jean Hixson. Photo Courtesy of Wonderful Ida (Ida Adamowicz).

Period Piece writer, Karis Halsall, who came all the way from London England

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Karis Halsall. Photo Courtesy of Wonderful Ida (Ida Adamowicz).

and Tina director Gayatri Bahl who travelled here from New York with the film’s producer, Anuj Goyal.

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Gayatri Bahl. Photo courtesy of Leigh Peterson Photography.

Local filmmakers form the heart of the festival and it was such a pleasure to screen the work of twenty talented BC filmmakers including:
La Quinceañera by Gigi Saul Guerrero

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Gigi Saul Guerrero. Photo Courtesy of Wonderful Ida (Ida Adamowicz).

Check directed by Meeshelle Neal (left), written and produced by Tracy Varju (centre); and Sonder, written, directed and performed by Mia Fiona Kut (right).

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Photo Courtesy of Wonderful Ida (Ida Adamowicz).

A Perfect 14 directed by Giovanna Morales Vargas (right) and produced by James Earl O’Brien(left), and Media Luna by Ana Carrizales (centre).

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Photo Courtesy of Wonderful Ida (Ida Adamowicz).

Once There Was A Winter, directed, written and edited by Ana Valine (right) and Produced by Seanna McPherson (left)

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Photo Courtesy of Wonderful Ida (Ida Adamowicz).

Tayybey by Eva Brownstein

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Photo Courtesy of Wonderful Ida (Ida Adamowicz).

Dear Hatetts by Kerry Barber


Photo courtesy of Corey Malone Creative

Dust In The Sky by Iris Moore


Photo courtesy of Corey Malone Creative

Fat Hiking Club by Layla Cameron (left).


Photo courtesy of Corey Malone Creative

On March 9th we addressed issues related to gender and inclusivity in the film and television industry with a forum where an informed and insightful keynote was delivered by Amanda Coles (What’s Wrong With This Picture).

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Photo courtesy of Leigh Peterson Photography.

Two industry panels were organized where panelists engaged in dialogue with each other and with the audience:

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Photo courtesy of Leigh Peterson Photography.

The broadcaster and producer panel with (from left to right): Amanda Coles (moderator); Sally Catto, General Manager, Programming CBC (who joined us via Skype); Amber-Sekowan Daniels, General Manager of Women in View; Helene Granqvist, Producer and President WIFT International; Susan Brinton, Co-Chair WIFTV’s Advocacy Committee; Liz Shorten Senior Vice-President, Operations & Member Services CMPA-BC; and Kim Guise (Executive in Charge of Production TELUS Originals and STORYHIVE)

Audience members Christine Willes and Sue Beily asked challenging questions:


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Photos courtesy of Leigh Peterson Photography.

The funder panel with (from left to right): Amber-Sekowan Daniels, General Manager of Women in View; Claude Joli-Coeur, Bob Wong, Vice President President and CEO of Creative BC; Valerie Creighton, CEO Canada Media Fund; Claude Joli-Coeur, Film Commissioner and President of the NFB

This panel was moderated by WIFTV’s advocacy chair Sharon McGowan.

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Photo courtesy of Leigh Peterson Photography.

We also took the opportunity on March 9th celebrate WIFTV’s 30th Birthday (our official birthday being March 6th).


Festival guests enjoy birthday cake in the Atrium of the Vancity Theatre.


Photo courtesy of Corey Malone Creative

Thanks to the NFB, the festival was able to offer two VR experiences including Biidaaban: First Light by By Lisa Jackson, Mathew Borrett, Jam3 and the National Film Board of Canada; and Homestay by Paisley Smith, Jam3, and the NFB Digital Studio.

Guest moderator Karen Budra experience the VR


Photo courtesy of Corey Malone Creative

WIFTV’s From Our Dark Side Side program launched at the festival with five winners attending:

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(L-R) Mary Cross, Melanie Butler, Helene Granqvist, Caitlin Vanstone, Kaye MacDonald, & Ashlea Wessel. Photo Courtesy of Leigh Peterson Photography.

And our Tricksters and Writers Program presented an actor table read where scripts from five writers were read:

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Tricksters and Writers participants Sarah Kelley and Jessie Anthony.

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Tricksters and Writers participant Marcy Waughtal. Photos Courtesy of Wonderful Ida (Ida Adamowicz).

So much activity at the festival, but its pillar is its audience and festival audiences were great this year:

They formed orderly lines

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Photo courtesy of Leigh Peterson Photography.

Asked great questions

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Photo courtesy of Leigh Peterson Photography.

Paid attention to the WIFTV table

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Photo courtesy of Susan Lu Photography

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And smiled


Photo courtesy of Corey Malone Creative

And smiled some more


Photo courtesy of Corey Malone Creative

They couldn’t stop smiling


Photo courtesy of Corey Malone Creative

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Wonderful Ida (Ida Adamowicz)

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Photos Courtesy of Wonderful Ida (Ida Adamowicz).

And on closing night we celebrated with an Awards Ceremony. See the Best of the Festival Award winners and their acceptance videos here. See the Matrix Award Winning BC Short films list here.

Click here to see the list of official selections for the 2019 Vancouver International Women in Film Festival.

Overall the festival was a great experience and we thank everyone who attended, supported, participated, fed us, photographed us and made this event possible.

The Vancouver International Women in Film Festival is grateful to the generous support of our sponsors, community partners, and volunteers. Thanks to Telefilm, Canadian Heritage, BC Arts Council, Bridge Studios, Casting Workbook, CCE, CFM, Chandler Fogden Aldous, CMPA-BC, CreativeBC, DGC BC, Georgia Straight, IATSE 891, ICG 669, Ken Hayward, Line 21, Matrix Production Services, NFB, Pacific Backlot, Ron Heaps, Sandman Hotel, Sim, Super Channel, Sepia Films, Telus, UBCP/ACTRA, VIFF Year Round.


Local Filmmakers at VIWFF 2019

The Vancouver International Women in Film Festival is thrilled to have so many BC filmmakers screening in the upcoming festival! 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

7:00 PM Opening Night Screening
Biidaaban (The Dawn Comes) Directed by Amanda Strong — Accompanied by 10,000-year-old shapeshifter and friend known as Sabe, Biidaaban sets out on a mission to reclaim the ceremonial harvesting of sap from maple trees in an unwelcoming suburban neighbourhood of Ontario. Driven by the words of Anishinaabe writer Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Amanda Strong’s mesmerizing stop motion animation intricately weaves together multiple worlds through time and space, calling for a rebellion. 
Biidaaban - 835w

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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

8:30 PM Screening: A Fighting Chance – shorts block followed by a Q&A
Nîsowak – Directed by Petie Chalifoux – Canadian Premiere — After the sudden and mysterious death of her father, Mêkwan, a young Indigenous woman, discovers that the ancient power of shapeshifting has been transferred to her. She must master it in order to save her bloodline from “The Whip Man” a creepy hunter whose ultimate goal is to eliminate her kind. New to shapeshifting, Mêkwan must choose – Fight or Flight! Nîsowak is a drama full of action and elements of a graphic novel style.Nisowak - 835w

Statistics – Directed by Tristin Greyeyes – BC Premiere — Two unsuspecting Indigenous women are harassed by two men who fetishize them based on stereotypes and cultural appropriation. They manage to escape but the justice system fails them. Months later, when one of the women decides to take justice into her own hands, she turns up missing and becomes another number in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous women crisis. Statistics - 835w

Carving Landscapes – Directed by Agathe Bernard – Vancouver Premiere — Atypical for her time, Mary Vaux defies gender roles, mountain weather and traditions to spark the first glaciological study in North America. Re-visiting the glacier over five decades, the documentary portrays her strength perseverance as well as the beauty of the Illecillewaet Glacier, here in our own backyard.Carving Landscapes-835w

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Thursday, March 7, 2019

3:30 PM  Screening: Inflection Points – shorts block followed by a Q&A
Good Girls Don’t – Directed by Ana De Lara — 
A comedic short film about a Filipina-Canadian girl who defies her mother’s warning that she will turn into a boy if she plays basketball. (Spoiler Alter: She doesn’t!)Good Girls Don't - 835w.jpg

Media Luna – Directed by Ana Carrizales – World Premiere — A woman narrates a mythical story of abuse. As she describes the romance between the Sun and the Moon and its violent turn, she recounts the tragic fate of countless women around the world. Media Luna - 835w.jpg

Clinch – Directed by Tricia Collins – North American Premiere — Clinch explores the connection between Shawna and Rudy, two professional boxers. As they train together, they fall in love and develop a tender romance that forms a sharp contrast to their competitive relationship in the ring. Will the sport that brought them together be their demise?Clinch - 835w.jpg

Sonder – Directed by Mia Fiona Kut — Aveline, a young competitive aerial silk artist, struggles to return to her sport and everyday life after a devastating freak accident. Longing for companionship, she turns to an online dating app, methodically tracking her chemistry with each candidate. She meets an equally lonely stranger, and an unexpected journey begins.Sonder - 835w.jpg

Girl in the Galactic Sun – Directed by Heather Perluzzo – Vancouver Premiere — The Gemini are a genderless alien species who have discovered they’ll become extinct if they don’t find a way to reproduce. After years of searching, they encounter humans and their reproductive method. This, in addition to their Gemini similarities, has brought them hope. However, the female metamorphosis from Gemini to human causes an unexpected difficulty.Girl in the Galactic Sun - 835w

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6:00 PM Screening
Once There Was A Winter Directed by Ana Valine — This dramatic thriller portrays a young woman, Lady, dangerously treading the delicate line between defiance and disappearance. Working in the frigid and desolate North has its challenges so when an invitation for drinks with new friends in a cozy cabin is presented, Lady readily accepts. Unknowingly she becomes the pawn in a game fueled by isolation, loss and jealousy. Followed by a filmmaker with Ana and the film’s producer Seanna McPhearson.Once There Was A Winter - 835w.jpgGet tickets!

8:30 PM Screening
A Perfect 14 – Directed by Giovanna Morales Vargas — A Perfect 14 explores the world of plus-size models fighting to reshape the fashion industry and the beauty standards of society. The film follows the journeys of models Elly Mayday (Canada), Kerosene Deluxe (Netherlands) and Laura Wells (Australia) as they struggle against our culture’s distorted perception of body image. A Perfect 14 questions fashion industry leaders and pioneers and holds them accountable for their responsibility in size-based segregation. Followed by a post-screening Q&A with Giovanna, the film’s producer James O’Brien, and subject, Kerosene Deluxe. A Perfect 14- 835w

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Friday, March 8, 2019 – INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

8:30 PM Screening: Perseverance Furthers – shorts block followed by a Q&A
Fat Hiking Club – Directed by Layla Cameron — A woman seeks to make the outdoors more accessible for fat people – just as they are and without shame. Armed with her slogan “Trails Not Scales”, she soon finds herself hosting events all over North America. Fat Hiking Club - 835w

Dust in the Sky – Directed by Iris Moore – North American Premiere — A short animation about Life, who crafts beautiful creations with love and care, and Death, who repeatedly takes them away. When Life convinces Death to leave, she discovers an important truth.Dust in the Sky - 835w

Check – Directed by Meeshelle Neal – Canadian Premiere — A woman’s thoughts become obsessive, dark, and all-consuming, threatening to overtake her unless she can find a way to accept them.Check - 835w

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Saturday, March 9, 2019

3:30 PM Screening
Tayybeh – Directed by Eva Brownstein — “Tayybeh” is an Arabic word meaning both ‘kind’ and ‘delicious’. The word embodies the spirit of the Tayybeh catering company – a group of female Syrian refugees who support their new lives in Vancouver by cooking Syrian food for the community. This short documentary is an intimate portrait of the struggles and triumphs of the women of Tayybeh, as they learn to navigate life in Canada while grappling with the grief and loss of leaving their homeland. 

Tayybeh - 835w

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6:45 PM Screening: Dreams and Unveilings shorts block followed by a Q&A
Ochiswachoo Directed by Jules – BC Premiere — Ochiskwacho is a sacred being, known to many Indigenous people as a spiritual messenger. Kokoom, an elderly (spiritually ailing) two-spirit woman has to decide whether to stay with her grandchildren or follow the Ochiskwacho. OChiSkwaCho - 835w

Bunny Man – Directed by Athena Han — Over a meal at a Chinese restaurant, four Taiwanese friends discuss the differences between FOB (fresh off the boat) and CBC (Canadian born Chinese). The conversation takes a bizarre turn when a mysterious Bunny mascot enters. BunnyMan-835w

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9:30 PM Screening
La Quinceañera Directed by Gigi Saul Guerrero – BC Premiere — Alejandra’s life is about to change forever on the night of her quinceañera, a coming of age ceremony held on a girl’s fifteenth birthday. In this daring revenge tale, a young girl will learn the limits of resilience and strength as she is thrust into the most extraordinary of situations over the course of 24 hours. The director has been praised for innovative work in the horror genre and this work reflects her recognizable style of Tex-Mex grit with a touch of grindhouse and gore.

Gigi Saul Guerrero will be hosting a discussion on the making of La Quinceañera at 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 10th at VIFF Vancity Theatre. No

La Quinceanera - 835w

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Join the local and visit VIWFF Filmmakers for Artist Talks at scheduled times throughout the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival that runs from March 5-10, 2019. Click here to view the schedule.