Canada film industry urged to improve gender and racial diversity

Image copyright Chris Whyte Image caption Carolynne Cunningham is founder of Carosy Media, which works to close the pay gap for the adult film industry Canada’s film and TV industry needs to change its…

Canada film industry urged to improve gender and racial diversity

Image copyright Chris Whyte Image caption Carolynne Cunningham is founder of Carosy Media, which works to close the pay gap for the adult film industry

Canada’s film and TV industry needs to change its practices if it wants to be a more inclusive place for women and underrepresented groups, according to a new report.

The report recommends the country should make new government policies “neutral to gender and racial discrimination” and should encourage production companies to use the best talent they can to access federal tax credit investments.

The recommendations come from an advisory committee commissioned by Canadian federal cultural policy minister Mélanie Joly.

It is chaired by entertainment lawyer and former cabinet minister Ted Menzies, as well as a majority of industry representatives.

Billed as a “roadmap” to improve gender and racial diversity in the industry, the six-month study “calls on the federal government to take steps to improve the situation for Canadian creators and producers,” the committee’s report states.

Since she was elected to lead the Canadian arts policy-making body in November 2017, Ms Joly has said film and TV production companies in the country must abide by “commitments and to new rules around hiring and how labour markets should operate to the benefit of women and visible minorities.”

“We know that whatever good intentions the government might have about equality and diversity for TV and film, there are three things we need to be concerned about right now,” said Jan-Marie Sirois, a former president of the CCF/NPA Independent Film Critics Association.

“One, what guidelines are they putting in place to ensure that the TV producers have been instructed to do a workplace training programme?” she asked.

“There is something which I would like to call the ‘New TV Academy’. These are people who have been hired to really learn about sexism, about racism, and it was not very well designed.

“What is the colour of the face?”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Kate Winslet at the 2018 Baftas, when the ceremony came under fire for a lack of diversity among nominees

It is not the first time Ms Joly has warned the industry, like the Baftas which hosted a lack of diversity on its nominations this year, on its shortcomings.

She previously blamed the “paucity of young Canadian voices” for Canada’s production a “scant” supply of diverse talent across TV, film and digital media.

All 20 of the category nominees in the 2018 Baftas were white men, up from 16 in 2017, and there were also no women nominated for acting honours.

Ms Joly’s representative from the movie industry, Robert Thompson, suggested it is because so few senior roles in film are occupied by people of colour that movie-makers do not feel they have to hire more women and/or minorities to work on the films they produce.

He suggested that ways of overcoming this could include a pay gap or first interviews being conducted by people of colour.

Those in the industry are hoping to find a better solution as the number of diverse players in the film and TV production spheres continues to grow.

The issue is set to be further highlighted at next month’s Canadian Film and Television Tax Credit Showcase, one of the main film industry events in the country.

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