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June 8, 2017

Behind-the-scenes heroes of screen-based media to be honoured at Spotlight Awards


Sabrina Furminger / Westender

Behind-the-scenes heroes of the local and national film and television industry will be honoured later this month at Women in Film and Television Vancouver’s Spotlight Awards.

The winners of this year’s slate of Spotlight Awards – which (according to the press release) “bring together the BC Film community to celebrate the outstanding achievements of women in screen-based media” – demonstrate outstanding dedication, effort, and ability behind the scenes or behind the camera, according to the organization.

This year’s award recipients – Liz Shorten, Tara Armstrong, Maja Aro, Karin Lee, Meg Thornton, Mark Leiren-Young, Paul Armstrong, Shauna Johannesen, Brianne Nord-Stewart, Lucia Cheung, Valerie Creighton, Heather Conway, and Carolle Brabant – “have made a significant impact on the screen-based media industry as leaders in their field and as advocates for women in the industry,” the organization stated in its announcement. Read more about the individual awards and winners below.

The Spotlight Awards will be handed out at a gala ceremony and party on June 20 at Performance Works on Granville Island. Denise Jones from the Vancouver Theatresports League will emcee the festivities. Tickets are available for purchase at www.womeninfilm.ca.

Thunderbird Entertainment/ Lark Productions Woman of the Year: Liz Shorten (CMPA)

This award is presented to an industry leader who has achieved significant success and who has created opportunities for other women in the industry.

Liz Shorten, Senior Vice President, Operations and Member Services CMPA BC Producers Branch, has worked in a wide range of leadership roles over the past twenty years, building the film, television and digital media sectors in BC.

DGC BC Artistic Achievement Award: Tara Armstrong (Mary Kills People)

This award honours a screen-based media artist (i.e. writer, director, producer, editor, director of photography or performer) who has created an outstanding recent work or a significant body of work.

Tara Armstrong attended UBC’s Creative Writing Program where she created and wrote Mary Kills People, her original pilot/series about a doctor running an illegal assisted suicide business. It was produced as a six-part event series by Corus/Global, with Lifetime Television coming on board in the US.

Please Adjust Your Set: Valerie Creighton (Canada Media Fund), Heather Conway (CBC), & Carolle Brabant (Telefilm)

This award honours a person or organization that has made a major contribution to promoting gender equality in film, television or screen-based media.

Heather Conway (Executive Vice-President of English Services – CBC) is responsible for all of CBC/Radio-Canada’s English-language services, including CBC Television, CBC Radio One, CBC Radio 2, CBC News Network, CBC.ca, documentary and digital operations. In November 2016, Heather announced the CBC’s Breaking Barriers Film Fund to support historically underrepresented filmmakers to access financing and have their voices heard.

Valerie Creighton (President and CEO of the Canada Media Fund) is responsible for the Canada Media Fund’s funding programs and 51 partnerships across Canada and in key international markets. The CMF contributes over 371 million dollars to Canadian television and digital media projects in 2105-16. On International Women’s Day, Valerie announced that the Canadian Media Fund would implement a series of new measures aimed at increasing the representation of women working in Canada’s screen-based industries.

Carolle Brabant (Executive Director – Telefilm) is responsible for administering Telefilm’s annual budget supporting feature film development and production. Since 1967, Telefilm has funded close to 6200 feature film productions and invested 3.3 billion dollars. In November of last year, Telefilm announced a five-point gender equity plan developed through consultations with the industry and creative talent. Telefilm aims by 2020 to achieve a balanced production portfolio (at all budget levels) that reflects gender parity in each of the key roles of director, writer and producer.

Teamsters Innovation Award: Maja Aro

The Artistic Innovation Award honours a key creator of a recent production or body of work that exemplifies vision, experimentation, and innovation.

Stunt harnesses are generic, which means they’re designed to fit men. No one has ever questioned that until necessity became the mother of invention. Maja Aro – an award-winning stuntwoman and filmmaker from Vancouver ­– designed the first ever women’s bra harness for stunt flying scenes, which has been used on a major American network production, Once Upon a Time.

Capilano University Film Centre Leadership in Education Award: Karin Lee

The Leadership in Education Award is presented to a screen industry teacher who has demonstrated a commitment to creating opportunities for and sharing expertise with female students within an academic or professional development context.

Karin Lee is a Canadian Screen Award-winning, trailblazing filmmaker who has focused on telling stories about women and Chinese Canadians for more than three decades. Her vision as an educator is to democratize media production by giving media training to women, seniors, youth and marginalized community members.

The Wayne Black Service Award: Meg Thornton

The Wayne Black Service Award honours a major contributor to the screen-based media community while working ‘behind the scenes’. This award is named in memory of Wayne Black of Alpha Cine who gave tirelessly of his time and talent to help filmmakers.

Meg Thornton has contributed to Canada’s media arts community for more than 40 years, both as a film and video artist and as a cultural worker. A tireless advocate for the media arts and artists Meg has served on innumerable boards and advisory committees (including Women in Focus and Women in Film & Video Vancouver amongst others) as well as participating on juries for the Canada Council, the BC Arts Council, and the City of Vancouver. She has contributed to the development of Canadian cultural policy through briefs on subjects as diverse as the creation of a BC Arts Council, proposed criteria for the BC Film Fund, and the Gaming Policy Review.

Iris Award: Mark Leiren-Young

The Iris Award is given to a person who has demonstrated a commitment to the promotion of female creators and their screen-based works either through curating or programming or through print and online media sources. Named after the Greek mythological figure Iris, associated with communication, messages, and new endeavors.

As a journalist, Mark Leiren-Young’s credits include writing for CBC RadioTIMEMaclean’sThe Utne ReaderThe Hollywood Reporter, The Huffington Post and most of Canada’s major daily newspapers and alt-weeklies (including The Globe and MailThe National PostThe Toronto Star and The Vancouver Sun). He’s a regular contributor to The WalrusThe Georgia Straight, the Tyee.ca and the Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

Finalé Post Production Honoured Friend Award: Paul Armstrong

The Honoured Friend Award recognizes a person who has played a significant role in supporting women in the industry and promoting the goals of WIFTV.

Paul Armstrong, a member of Women in Film since 2000, is an award-winning Vancouver film, television and theatre producer with more than 45 film producing credits. Paul is the founder, programmer, and producer of The Celluloid Social Club, a monthly screening of short films, and is the Executive Director of Crazy8s, the 8-day filmmaking challenge that has been running since 1999. Paul is currently in production with the CBC Documentary Channel on the feature doc Cool Daddy.

Matrix Production Services Image Award: Shauna Johannesen

The Image Award is awarded to a director, writer, editor or director of photography of an outstanding short work that shows production excellence or a unique, visionary approach.

Shauna Johannesen is an award-winning writer, actor, and filmmaker. Her plays have been produced across Western Canada and her short film Bedbugs: A Musical Love Story garnered numerous accolades on the festival circuit, including Leo Awards for Screenwriting and Best Female Actor. Shauna’s newest play Common Grace premiered in 2016 at Pacific Theatre, and her current short film, Trying, received multiple nominations at the 2017 Leo Awards.

Encore Vancouver Newcomer Award: Brianne Nord-Stewart

The Newcomer Award recognizes a new artist or technician, including one who is shifting from one career to another (i.e. from an actor to a director) whose first few works have laid the foundation for an inspiring new career.

Brianne Nord-Stewart writes, directs, edits, and produces films, web series, commercials, and music videos. Brianne has garnered numerous awards including Shaw Media’s Fearless Female Director Award, The Harold Greenberg Fund’s Shorts-to-Features Award, and the Telus Banff World Media Film Festival Fellowship.

Troika Sharon Gibbon Award: Lucia Cheung

The Sharon Gibbon Award honours a member in recognition of her volunteer work with WIFTV advancing the organization’s goals. The award is named in memory of Sharon Gibbon, who exemplified these qualities in a career cut short too soon.

Lucia Cheung started volunteering with WIFTV in February 2012. When she first started, Lucia manually processed memberships and sent out individualized cards and now electronically continues to prepare member ratification tables and comparative membership reports. She has played an important role in organizing festival ticketing and assisted in the coordination of festival submissions.