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Digi60 Spring Festival. Photo: Frank Pomerleau

Digi60 Spring 2019 Festival had over 50% of filmmakers women-identifying

By Nickie Shobeiry on June 10, 2019

Now in its 16th year, the Digi60 Filmmakers’ festival—Ottawa’s leading filmmakers’ festival—was founded on the principle that new and emerging filmmakers would be encouraged to create short films, and screen them in a setting that provides a real-world film festival experience. In doing this, Digi60 promotes Ottawa as a sustainable film industry destination, creating a vibrant and supportive filmmaking community.

“To have over 50% of our filmmakers identify as women allows us to provide further opportunities for women filmmakers to participate in the festival and for this wonderful prize to be shared with a deserving artist.”—Emily Ramsay, Executive Director

Many Digi60 alumni go on to become professional members of the film and TV industry. A large part of Digi60’s mission, therefore, is to support women-identifying filmmakers in the city.

According to this May 2019 report by non-profit Women in View, between 2014 and 2017 in Canada, “women’s share of television writing, directing and cinematography contracts increased from 17.2% to 28.3%”—which is quite a jump.

However, the report also points out that if we continue at this rate, the Canadian TV industry will reach 50:50 by 2028. And as this CBC report points out, women of colour and Indigineous women continue to remain underrepresented within the industry, with just 1.81% of contracts going to WOC, and .69% going to Indigineous women.

It’s for reasons like this that Digi60 was excited to announce that for the first time, during the Spring Festival, over 50% of its filmmakers were women-identifying, taking home awards selected by a jury of established industry professionals.

Digi60 Spring 2019 Class photo. Photo: Frank Pomerleau

On May 5th 2019, Digi60 hosted its annual Spring Festival at the MayFair theatre. In the lead-up, filmmakers had just three weeks to create an original, three-minute short film on the theme of ‘Adventure’ – inspired by Ottawa-based travel app, Wandure.

“We are always excited to partner with SAW Video for the SAW Video Female Filmmaker Award,” said Emily Ramsay, Executive Director. “To have over 50% of our filmmakers identify as women allows us to provide further opportunities for women filmmakers to participate in the festival and for this wonderful prize to be shared with a deserving artist.”

‘Ennui Fatale’ creators Tina Prud’homme, left, and Stephanie Simpson. Photo: Frank Pomerleau

Sponsored by The Acting Company, the ‘Emerging Actor Award’ went to ‘Ennui Fatale’, created by Tina Prud’homme and Stephanie Simpson. Prud’homme also took home the prize for Best Screenplay, with her short being the story of “a stone-cold femme fatale” having a tough day on the job. Despite being “daring” and “deadly”, she’s also… seriously bored.

SAW Video sponsors Digi60’s Female Filmmaker Award. This year, that prize went to ‘Aliya’, created by Laurianna Cardiano-Dumas and Meghan Baines.

‘Aliya’ creators Laurianna Cardiano-Dumas, left, and Meghan Baines. Photo: Frank Pomerleau

‘Aliya’ had the simple logline of ‘Adventure, lived’. This beautiful and poignant film followed the life journey of one woman from childhood and adulthood, capturing the full breadth of human experience with such expertise—and in just three minutes!—that it moved its audience to tears.

As Cardiano-Dumas and Baines came onto the stage to accept their prize, you could feel the surprise in the room: the two women behind this stunning short were still in high school. And not only had they created ‘Aliya’ in only three weeks—they’d joined a filmmaking collective in that time, too, named Lowbrow Productions.

“The energy on set was so encouraging and enthusiastic,” said Cordiano-Dumas and Baines in a joint statement. “It’s an experience we will treasure for a long time.”

It’ll likely come as no surprise that ‘Aliya’ also took home the Best Director Award, and Best Film Award.

The Digi60 Spirit of the Festival Award went to ‘Teddy’ by Ashley Gorman, following the journey of a forgotten bear in the back of an Uber.

The Top Five Films included: ‘Falling for YOU’ by Brian Briggs, about a surprise first date that takes protagonist Alex out of his comfort zone; ‘Ms. Adventure’ by Martin Rodriguez, on a woman who is reluctant to continue participating in her friends madcap nighttime adventures; ‘Darkest Before Dawn’ by Vincent Valentino, on a woman who must choose between two lives; ‘Daydream’ by Antonio Najera, following Monica, who finds the action she’s looking for on the job as a fresh new police officer recruit—and, of course, ‘Aliya’.

If you’re a new or emerging filmmaker looking for your next challenge, stay tuned for Digi60’s Fall Festival, launching on September 5, 2019.