The National Film Board of Canada will be ensuring that in future at least half of its productions will be directed by women and half of all production spending will be allocated to films directed by women. The announcement was made by NFB head Claude Joli-Coeur at a panel at the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival on March 8, International Women’s Day.
These commitments will be rolled out over the next three years, during which the public will be able to track progress toward these goals through updates on the NFB website which will provide complete budget allocation transparency. A recent report from nonprofit media organization Women in View showed that women represented only 17% of directors, 22% of writers and 12% of cinematographers in the Canadian film industry (from a sample of 91 feature films produced in 2013-14).
In making this commitment, the NFB is working toward growing these numbers and building on its leadership role in women’s cinema in Canada. In the current 2015‒2016 fiscal year, production spending on films directed by women at the NFB is roughly at parity, with 43.4% of production spending on films directed by women and 43.5% of spending on films directed by men, 11.3% of spending on films directed by a mixed team, and 1.8% of spending not yet allocated. That’s up from the previous year, 2014‒2015, when production spending on films directed by women was at 41.7% versus 47.8% on films directed by men.
The NFB also boasts high numbers of women in key creative and managerial positions: 55% of the organization’s producers and executive producers across Canada are women, as are 66% of persons holding upper management positions and 70% of Board of Trustee positions.
“The NFB has always taken a leadership role in women’s filmmaking,” said Claude Joli-Coeur, Government Film Commissioner and NFB Chairperson. “In our current fiscal year, films directed by women represent half of our total spending on production. In 2016‒2017, the numbers are projected to be well above that. But numbers can fluctuate. There have been good years and lean years for women’s filmmaking at the NFB. No more. Today, I’m making a firm, ongoing commitment to full gender parity, which I hope will help to lead the way for the industry as a whole.”