Canadian writer-director Annie Bradley has made her mark as a true trailblazer in the film industry. 

From her raucous female ensemble comedy The WBI, to Blowback, a gritty thriller about a female cop, to magical mini-series Spellbound, to I’m Going to Break Your Heart, her documentary starring music icons Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida, Annie is a creative force across genres and mediums. She’s known for her striking cinematic work, impactful storytelling, and comedic sensibilities, with an impressive resume of award-winning projects that have screened across five continents.

She’s currently the Chair of DGC Ontario, and in 2018, she was chosen as one of 5 international women directors to officially observe on Handmaid’s Tale—how cool is that? This weekend, she will be honoured with the Firecracker Department Red Point Award for her achievements and contributions to the arts community.

The Red Point Award celebrates a woman or non-binary person over the age of 50 who is paving the way, creating meaningfully, and inspiring others as a community leader. Annie will be honoured alongside Jennifer Podemski, who is receiving the Blaze Award.

 “Both Jennifer and Annie exemplify the very best minds and hearts of our film and television industry and individually, they have worked tirelessly to forge new paths for the generations to come,” says Naomi Snieckus, founder of the Firecracker Department. 

We connected with Annie for a look back on her career, a look forward to the future of film in Canada, and her wisdom to those new to the industry.

What does it mean to you to be receiving the Firecracker Red Point Award?

There’s no denying that being acknowledged by your peers is humbling and thrilling so I’m very honoured to receive this award. The Firecracker Department is such a vibrant community that celebrates not only the creative spirit but also champions giving back, tenacity and wisdom, which I think isn’t always the norm in our business, so it’s extra special.   


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What have been some of the most significant shifts you’ve seen for women in film throughout your career?

I’m not going to lie—we make noise, achieve small gains and then fall back a few major steps it seems. But overall, I think one of the biggest shifts I’ve seen is women starting to believe they deserve to tell stories and take up space and then just damn well doing it despite the odds. That burgeoning confidence is perhaps the most weighty shift, because it’s not based on the success or failure of a movement, it’s an internal deeply personal shift.  

Which of your projects was most life-changing for you, and why?

Tongue Bully – my third film which was shot in Cuba. It played and sold at Sundance and although that didn’t have an immediate impact on my career, which was an excellent lesson, the whole experience of making it was breathtaking and the creative journey with an extraordinary team cemented my belief that I was a filmmaker with a unique voice. That belief system will be constantly under siege so it’s important to remember those moments to ground you in the storms to come.   

What was the first film you saw that made you realize the power of film, or really made an impact on you? 

I actually think that I recognized the power of film when I first sat in a dark theatre as a child with my mother and had the collective experience of going on an emotional journey with complete strangers. I was hooked. It was the thing I missed the most during the pandemic and I remember being overcome with emotion on my first time back in the theatre.

So many films and filmmakers have inspired me over the years and continue to…the list continues to expand. See everything you can in every language possible is my motto. Be amazed and inspired by the work that continues to unfold around the world.  

What do you think is missing in Canadian TV & film right now? Which kinds of stories do we need to hear more of?

I’d love to see more daring and risk from our broadcasters and funders, to see them nurture more complex characters with greater stakes and demand more stories that encompass a wider spectrum of age, gender, race and socio-economic diversity. We need to dig deep and carve out a culture of Canadianism that is compelling to all of our citizens and undeniable worldwide.  

There is still a lot of stigma against older women in the entertainment industry. What do you think can be done to help erase this stigma? 

We need to culturally celebrate the undeniable watchability and wisdom that characters and creators bring who have experienced; loss, love, success, failure, regret and joy! Humans who will continue to make mistakes, but still have dreams to follow, possess ironclad tenacity and a “my give a damn’s busted” attitude.  I mean who doesn’t love Sarah Lancashire in Sally Wainwright’s Happy Valley

What is making you feel hopeful about the future of the film industry?

These are challenging times right now in our industry and it feels like we are on a precipice of sorts with the international labour unrest exposing the dirty secrets of our industry. Watching the solidarity build around the world, standing firm and demanding change as well as the voices chiming in for a more diverse galaxy of storytellers has been deeply inspiring and hopeful.  There is limitless potential when you focus on building out community, uniting allies and speaking truth to power.  

What is your best wisdom for someone new to the industry?

Don’t tell the stories you think everyone wants to hear, only tell the stories that haunt you. Be curious, patient, ask questions, listen to people with more experience and different experiences, be kind, give back and choose your friends wisely. Be excellent always, grateful for the journey, BE PREPARED!! Finally, always speak from a generous heart and remember it’s a long game.