Whistler Film Festival screens record number of movies directed by women

The Whistler Film Festival opens on Wednesday and features a record number of films directed by women.

30 per cent of films were made by women, highest percentage to date

The Whistler Film Festival runs from Nov. 29 to Dec. 3 and is focusing on women this year. (Tourism Whistler/Whistler.com )

The Whistler Film Festival is set to open on Wednesday and will showcase a record number of movies directed by women.

The festival will screen 14 feature films and 16 short films directed by women, making up approximately 30 per cent of the event's programming.

That will be the highest percentage of female-produced work to screen at the festival to date, the Whistler Film Festival said in a press release.

Although still not at equal gender parity, U.S. film producer Susan Cartsonis said the fact that even 30 per cent of the films are made by women is significant.

"What the Whistler Film Festival is doing is a fantastic thing by evening the playing field, it's a great thing to showcase the accomplishments of female filmmakers," she told CBC host of The Early Edition Rick Cluff.

"We've created an industry that is known for exploring human experience, that's what movies do, and we're only representing half of the world of human experience by representing male stories and male generated stories," she said. "It's always a healthier environment when there is gender parity."

Change possible

Cartsonis has been a long-time champion for gender equality and women's rights in the film business. She spent a decade working as an executive at 20th Century Fox, where she produced films like the 2000 hit What Women Want.

"When I started out, I was often the only woman in a room full of 30 people," she said.

That is slowly changing though, she said, and she is hopeful about the recent attention on the challenges women face in the film industry.

"The consciousness-raising that is happening is a really healthy thing because when you are conscious that something is unequal, it becomes possible to really take a look at it and change it," she said.

Cartsonis will deliver a keynote address at breakfast event on Dec. 2.

To hear more, click on the audio link below:

In Hollywood, women make up less than 20 per cent of the people making the movies and decisions. That dynamic is starting to shift at the Whistler Film Festival, which opens on Wednesday with a record number of films directed by women. 9:12

With files from The Early Edition