Our Leaders in Film Panel, in partnership with Telefilm Canada, was already organized when news headlines broke about Harvey Weinstein. The assault and harassment allegations opened the floodgates in Hollywood to expose decades of abuse and abhorrent behaviour, which in turn sparked the #MeToo response that forced many of us to examine our professional history, reliving events or interactions that were not right.

Our panel, which brought together 200 women in the Canadian film industry, wasn’t in response to the events in the news or on social media, but it sure did happen at a time when women in film were eager to engage in positive discussion, to celebrate our successes, to feel good and build momentum, and to move forward by changing the script.

Put another way, the pyramid of power is beginning to topple over and we’re continuing to pivot the industry in the right direction. We couldn’t have hoped for a more powerhouse group of industry leaders to shift the conversation. 

Moderated by actor Amanda Brugel (The Handmaid’s Tale, Kim’s Convenience), the panel included a representative from all pillars of the industry: TIFF’s VP of Advancement, maxine bailey; Cinematographer Maya Bankovic (Below Her Mouth, Wexford Plaza); Writer/Director Molly McGlynn (Mary Goes Round, 3-Way [Not Calling]); and Entertainment One’s VP of Marketing, Joanna Miles.

To kick things off, Amanda asked each panellist how they broke into the industry and the conversation expanded to include everything from what films thrive at the Canadian box office, to how to support homegrown cinema, to improving representation in storytelling and advice on how to get ahead.

Here are just a handful of takeaways we need to remind ourselves of often:

  • “The best way to support women in this industry: hire them.” Maya Bankovic
  • “Vote with your pocketbook,” maxine bailey on how to support the films/filmmakers you want to see succeed.
  • “Everyone’s opinion, voice, matters.” Joanna Miles, on how to use your privilege or power to ensure other voices are heard. This can be as easy as ensuring every member of your team is able to vocalize their input at your next meeting.
  • “Don’t diminish yourself to make others feel more comfortable.” Molly McGlynn
  • “You should be having fun. It’s about the passion.” maxine bailey

We laughed, exchanged lessons learned, asked questions, connected, and left feeling motivated to create and build. 

Thank you to Rachel Bies Nutrition for a delicious DIY granola bar, The Drake Hotel for freshly baked scones, Reunion Island for much-needed caffeination, and Pluck Teas for delightful tea station.