Racial Equity Screen Office
June 16, 2021
Dear Mr. Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage,
Over the past few months, the Vancouver Asian Film Festival (VAFF) has brought public attention to the problematic and systemically inequitable funding process at the Canada Council for the Arts. Although VAFF’s assertions have been acknowledged, it has not resulted in change at the CCA. This prompted VAFF to consult with many racialized stakeholders and organizations in the Canadian Screen Industry who are also underrepresented in terms of advocacy for equitable treatment for funding, jobs, access, and visibility.
Filmmakers and film groups across BC, Alberta and Ontario led by VAFF have found at every level, racist systems in place to under-finance and under-support our projects. We believe this is largely due to implicit and explicit bias compounded with systemically racist policies governing our industry which leave racialized writers, showrunners, directors and producers unable to make an adequate living in this country,
After months of convening and consulting different groups, we have concluded that establishing the national Racial Equity Screen Office (RESO) situated in Western Canada would be the most efficient and effective mechanism to advocate for financial, social, and geographical equity from government funding agencies while also identifying the structures and practices within the screen-based industry that negatively impact racialized creatives and impede our success.
RESO will serve to give a voice to the large group of racialized people encompassed by the ‘POC’ acronym in BIPOC. We know that the BSO and ISO are doing great work for their communities and feel RESO is needed to give a centre for our unique challenges and possibilities.
For RESO our focus is on the distinct nature of the immigrant diaspora and the opportunities, realities, and stories that live within our communities and our lived experiences. RESO is founded on the core principle of collaboration to address the culture of scarcity within governmental funding bodies. These processes prevent community organizations from cooperating with one another. RESO is a Vancouver based national office that supports the mentorship, training, funding, production, and distribution of racialized Canadian filmmakers with diverse stories told through our diasporic migrant lens with a major goal to build greater business opportunities and markets for content from racialized communities in and outside of Canada.
ADVOCACY and ACCESS TO FUNDING
- To advocate for the participation of all levels of government to financially and systematically support racialized filmmakers with diverse stories told through a diasporic migrant lens.
- Advocate to and educate agencies such as Telefilm, CMF, CCA in regards to issues important to racialized filmmakers (language, cultural influences, markets, casting etc)
- Equitable Public Funding for core operations of organization for multi-year sustainability
- Public funding to build an independent film fund for racialized filmmakers for RESO and/or with the Canadian Independent Screen Fund
- Private Funding – Develop mechanisms to attract private donors and foundations
- To export screen-based development initiatives created by racialized Canadian filmmakers to existing and established global film markets, in particular Asian and Latin film markets
- Identify structures that may be barriers to developing and exporting Canadian diaspora screen content to global markets.
- Develop career pathways and opportunities for racialized filmmakers to enter into or advance in the screen industry by providing employment, training and mentorship programs and initiatives that nurture the creatives throughout their journey across the entire industry
- Work with and/or support other organizations already providing these pathways and training programs
RACE BASED DATA COLLECTION AND REPORTING
- Data collection and report to ensure metrics are available to quantify the impact of the funding and business development activities
- Work with and/or support other organizations collecting and reporting race based data
SOLIDARITY WITH INDIGENOUS SCREEN OFFICE AND BLACK SCREEN OFFICE
As the federal government determines how the budgeted funds are allocated, we hope to work with your office to develop an equitable funding model to ensure underrepresented voices from all communities are supported over a number of years. We are determined that systems will change for the betterment of all Canadians.
RESO includes key members from Vancouver Asian Film Festival, Iranian Film Society, Collective Bunch, Cinevolution Media Arts Society, Fallout Media, Creatives Empowered (AB), BC Minorities in Film & TV, Vancouver South Asian Film Festival, UBCP/ACTRA, DOCBC and DOXA Film Festival.
We would like to request a meeting with you to discuss opportunities for Canadian government to fund this screen office.
Please let us know when you would be available for a virtual meeting to discuss further.
Thank you and we look forward to making this a reality.
Barbara Lee, President, Vancouver Asian Film Festival
Nilesh Patel, Roaming Pictures Inc., DOC BC I NT I YT Board Member
Elfred Manning, Independent Arts, Film & TV Consultant
Baljit Sangra, Vivamantra Films, Co-Chair of DOC BC I NT I YT
Pezhman Hadavi, President, Iranian Film Society
Ying Wang, President, Cinevolution Media Arts Society
Shawn Tse, Fallout Media
Dhirendra Miyanger – Din Din Pictures Inc. / Co-Chair of ‘Diversity and Inclusion Committee‘ for UBCP/ACTRA
Mostafa Keshvari, BC Minorities for Film and TV Society
Anand Pavamani, filmmaker, Board member York Region Arts Council
Jason Mackay, Collective Bunch
Mannu Sandhu – Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival
Shivani Saini, Creatives Empowered (Alberta)