Communications Manager at Women in Film & Television Vancouver

The Intersection of Culture & Trauma in “Because We Are Girls”


Because We Are Girls is an empowering, feminist documentary by Vancouver’s very own Baljit Sangra. The film world premiered at Hot Docs 2019 in Toronto, and opened the 2019 DOXA Documentary Film festival in Vancouver. Several screenings have been added due to its popularity beyond Sangra’s expectations, all ending with a standing ovation and emotional discussions. I had the privilege of watching the film a few times, and interviewing Sangra about the process of its creation.

The documentary follows the Pooni sisters; 3 South Asian-Canadian women who unpack the traumatic impact of the sexual abuse they endured as young girls living in Williams Lake, B.C. They are on a difficult pursuit of justice as they attempt to hold their abuser responsible in the BC Court system. Baljit Sangra was a long-time friend of one of the sisters, and was just beginning her career in documentaries when she was approached to get involved. “It wasn’t until Jeeti went to the police in 2007 that she got the momentum to pursue creating this documentary. Then the NFB got involved, and I thought my relationship with her and being South-Asian Canadian myself would make it a good fit. It helped in terms of developing trust,” recounts Sangra.

This is a revolutionary time for women coming forward in the media regarding the traumas around their sexual abuse stories. The case against former film producer Harvey Weinstein in 2017 amplified the #MeToo movement in Hollywood cinema, and most recently E. Jean Carroll stands confidently on the cover of NY Magazine defending her rape accusations against President Donald Trump. While the spectrum of outlets in expressing these stories is wide and all equally important, the successes of the “Surviving R. Kelly” series and “Leaving Neverland” emphasizes the power of documentary storytelling. “It’s the most real form of telling stories,” says Sangra. “It’s real people going through real emotions”.

While most sexual abuse stories have parallel implications, it is imperative to consider the intersections of race and culture when analyzing these experiences. Because We Are Girls presents Punjabi culture as a dichotomy, with the women in the film exploring a paradoxical identity through it; as both suppressed and devalued through submissive, misogynist teachings, yet fulfilled in its enriched traditions of song, dance, and values of love and togetherness.

It had me thinking: to what extent is culture problematic, and where is the fine line between celebrating, and being critical of culture?

It was clear from the film that the parents of the three sisters were unwilling to be critical whatsoever, and even justified aspects of the culture in which they admittedly knew were problematic. However, they eventually go through a complex process of unlearning, as they see the profound impact of their inaction on their daughters. Sangra, who has been following the family for over a decade, can attest to their abundant support claiming that the very act of their participation in the film speaks volumes. “As parents, the weight of this happening to three of your daughters is pretty heavy. Now, they are a part of the film in a vulnerable way and attend almost every screening, despite what people think. That’s big and important and shows they’re not as traditional anymore. Everyone is a work in progress.”

The constant battle between shame vs support was prevalent throughout the film. The concept of girls being shamed at a very young age and bearing the responsibility as women of upholding the family honour. It perpetuated this perverse idea that women need to be pure, as they are a reflection of the family. There was always a constant concern about sustaining a positive familial reputation in the film, almost similar to the structure of a dowry. This was juxtaposed with these same women crying out for support, and holding their family, especially their male counterparts, accountable by calling out the double standards and the violent impact of their silence.

Bollywood cinema is compelling in that it is a visually stimulating representation of the Punjabi cultural paradox. Is Bollywood therefore problematic? Sangra answers: “Yes, however the portrayal of women can be better in all cinema. Bollywood definitely has notions of the heroin and certain qualities she should have, such as purity. A lot of women come on screen for a sexy dance, always portrayed through the male gaze. You don’t see more women storytelling, but there is still hope!”

Artistically speaking, I was attracted to numerous transitional shots; specifically, the scene that utilized the daughter of one of the sisters, literally grooming herself. She was a young girl no older than 11 years old, wearing traditional elaborate Indian attire, slowly putting on an excessive amount of jewellery and makeup, which transitioned into an older archival black and white footage of another young girl doing the same. This was juxtaposed with one of the sisters, Jeeti, describing the “grooming” element of sexual abuse; how the process became routine, and thus normalized. It was a truly powerful contrast. “It’s important to also highlight how naïve these girls were; the oldest sister spoke about asking her mother at age 12 how her brother was born, as she was under the impression he was ordered in the mail. Sex was never spoken about in the home, so how were they supposed to know what was happening to them?”

The component connecting the series of events in the documentary, was the tedious nature of the court systems that the sisters had to endure for years. Although the accused was eventually convicted on 4/6 counts, a recent ruling in favour of the accused under the “Jordan decision” has now caused all the charges to be dropped, and his criminal record erased. Given the verdict, I asked Sangra whether the process she witnessed the sisters go through, and whether the documentary itself was worth producing. “Of course, because they held him accountable, and wanted to be heard. If you’re going to put all your trust in the justice system, you won’t find healing or peace. What matters is that they were able to tell their stories and were finally heard.”

Because We Are Girls will be screening at the Vancity Theatre during the following dates and times:

Friday, July 5 at 6:20 pm*
Saturday, July 6 at 4:00 pm*
Saturday, July 6 at 8:30 pm**
Sunday, July 7 at 6:45 pm
Thursday, July 11 at 6:30 pm

*Director Baljit Sangra and the Pooni family in attendance.
**Producer Selwyn Jacob and the Pooni family in attendance.

Purchase tickets in advance here

Written by: Krystal Paraboo

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

Ate wellIMG_6698IMG_6699

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

Get Tickets!

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.

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.

VIWFF Screenplay Competition 2019 Announces Top Ten Official Selections


By far our most successful international screenplay competition yet! In 2019 we more than doubled the number of entries, thanks in large part to our co-sponsorship with the ISA – International Screenwriters Association. WIFTV provided door prizes to the ISA’s Third Thursday screenwriting events in 15 locations worldwide, and the ISA will be providing ISAConnect memberships to our top ten Official Selections.

We received screenplay submissions from women writers from across Canada and the USA, as well as the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Turkey, Brazil, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

Congratulations to the Official Selections:

  • Nancy Bartley – The Boy Who Shot the Sheriff – USA
  • Jackie Bateman – Salome Magic – Vancouver, BC
  • Arla Bowers – White Coyote – USA
  • Sam Coyle – White River – Toronto, ON
  • Nadia Desyatnikova – Selva – USA
  • Michelle Davidson & Jeffrey Field – No Man’s Land – USA
  • Helen Marsh – Alice Through the Microscope – Vancouver, BC
  • Sheona McDonald – Back by Midnight – Vancouver, BC
  • Katterina Powers – A Better Place – USA
  • Cate Wood Hunter – The Transmogrification of St. Bunnycrisp – South Africa



(L-R) Jackie Bateman, Helen Marsh, Michelle Davidson (co-writer with Jeffry Field), Cate Wood Hunter, Katterina Powers


(L-R) Sheona McDonald, Arla Bowers, Nancy Bartley, Sam Coyle, Nadia Desyatnikova

We would also like to recognize two additional screenwriters with Honourable Mentions:

J. Bermudez – The Face of the Earth – USA

Robin Fusco – Happy Endings Senior Living – USA

The ten Official Selections will receive a prize package that includes full festival accreditation to VIWFF 2019, and an opportunity to pitch their scripts to industry professionals at the festival, taking place March 5-10. The first place screenwriter will receive the Ken Hayward Award for Best Screenplay, which includes a $250 cash prize. The winner will be announced at the VIWFF Awards Ceremony on Sunday, March 10, 2019.

The 14th Vancouver International Women in Film Festival just released their film lineup on January 30, 2019. Read the announcement here and check out the VIWFF film schedule here.

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The 14th annual Vancouver International Women in Film Festival (#VIWFF) celebrates the best of cinema created by women. Running from March 5 to 10, 2019, #VIWFF is pleased to be screening 49 films from 19 different countries around the world including 18 local filmmakers!

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Opening the festival is the Vancouver Premiere of Warrior Women (US), a documentary featuring Lakota activists Madonna Thunder Hawk and her daughter Marcella Gilbert, who are at the forefront of Native issues, fighting against the environmental devastation of the Dakota Access Pipeline and for indigenous cultural values. Director Elizabeth Castle and film subject Marcella Gilbert will be in attendance. Warrior Women will be screened with the animated short, Bidaaban (The Dawn Comes) from local filmmaker Amanda Strong.

VIWFF is excited to present the World Premiere of Swords And Scepters: The Rani of Jhansi (USA) an epic period film set in India in 1850. The film follows the Rani as she becomes a growing symbol of Indian resistance and ultimately changes the shape of history. The film’s director, Swati Bhise will be in attendance for a discussion.

VIWFF will screen three BC feature films including the Canadian Premiere of A Perfect 14. This feature documentary explores the world of plus-size models fighting to reshape the fashion industry and the beauty standards of society. The film’s director, Giovanna Morales Vargas, producer, James O’Brien, and subject, Kerosene Deluxe will be in attendance.

Other BC features include the BC Premiere of Gigi Saul Guerrero’s,  La Quinceañera, and a screening of Ana Valine’s, Once There Was A Winter.

La Quinceañera, captures fifteen-year-old Alejandra Santos, whose life is about to change forever on the night of her quinceañera.  The film reflects the director’s recognizable style of Tex-Mex grit with a touch of grindhouse and gore. Gigi Saul will be in attendance.

In Once There Was a Winter we are drawn into a dangerous game set in the desolate North where, fueled by isolation, loss and jealousy,  Lady treads a delicate balance between defiance and disappearance. Anna Valine will be in attendance.

The program also includes 15 local shorts from filmmakers Athena Han, Agathe Bernard, Meeshelle Neal, Tricia Collins, Iris Moore, Amanda Strong, Layla Cameron, Heather Perluzzo, Ana de Lara, Ana Carrizales, Petie Chalifoux, Jules A Koostachin, Mia Fiona Kut, Tristin Greyeyes, and Eva Brownstein. Many local filmmakers will be in attendance.

International Women’s Day on March 8th includes two free screenings, the Canadian Premiere of The Feminist (Sweden) and She Is The Ocean (Russia). The Feminist’s producer, Helene Granquvist, will be in attendance. She Is The Ocean’s director, Inna Blokhina, will be in attendance.

VIWFF is proud to screen several Canadian and International shorts among a diverse selection of documentaries and features.

Click here to view the full lineup of films for the 2019 Vancouver International Women in Film Festival.

The festival will close with the Awards Ceremony followed by the closing night party. Enjoy the tastes of Syrian cuisine with refreshments by Tayybeh.

Stay tuned for additional announcements including special guests, panel discussion, receptions, workshops, tickets and more!

VIWFF is grateful for the support of VIFF Vancity Theatre, Canadian Heritage, BC Arts Council, Telefilm, Creative BC, City of Vancouver, TELUS, CMPA-BC, UBCP, Bridge Studios, Casting Workbook, CCE, CFM, Chandler Fogden Aldous, DGC BC, Georgia Straight, IATSE 891, ICG 669, Line 21, Matrix Production Services, Pacific Backlot, Ron Heaps, Ken Hayward, Sandman Hotel, Sim International, Side Street Post, Super Channel.