This year the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) took huge strides toward becoming more inclusive.
According to the film festival’s statistics, in 2018, 36 per cent of the entries were directed by women. The number might still seem low but it is the highest percentage in TIFF’s 42 year history. It is also a 3 per cent increase in comparison to last year.
One of the most successful and anticipated entries at this year’s festival was the film The Kindergarten Teacher. This film starred Maggie Gyllenhall and was directed by Sara Colangelo, who recently said in a pre-screening interview that she wants to push for equality for female characters in films.
The news is a sign of hope for many young women directors and writers who want to be part of the film industry in the coming years.
Lily Gomez, who recently graduated from the Toronto Film School, believes that seeing more women in directorial roles is motivating.
“Having more leading roles and directors in movies that are women will inspire more women to follow their paths and for people to see that a woman can do too. People have different perspectives about women, but they don’t understand that everyone is different and if a woman is getting into the industry is because she is capable to do everything she wants,” Gomez said.
Gomez tries to include leading roles for women in her work.
“I normally have a woman as my lead actress because I want to show how strong, brave and capable we are,” Gomez said.
Gomez believes that changing the overall portrayal of women in film should have more females behind the lens, but the focus also needs to shift to breaking traditional roles that are usually given to women behind the scenes.
“I’ve been on sets and I have noticed that women have responsibilities like, caring about the equipment, or to keep order and make sure everyone is safe on set. But I haven’t seen a woman lifting heavy things or being responsible for running the lighting department,” she said.
"At the #ShareHerJourney Rally, I heard many of my experiences put into powerful words and stories by current filmmakers. But this is only the first step." — Read more from our Director, Loyalty & Engagement, Jaspreet Sandhu: https://t.co/w4bJ524NVb pic.twitter.com/ympfeWY7x8
— TIFF (@TIFF_NET) September 14, 2018
With her short film “No Words”, which documents the early struggles newcomers have to face when they arrive to Canada, Gomez will be hoping to enter some of the most important film festivals next year.
The increase in female directors at TIFF is no coincidence. The festival initiated a campaign in 2017 called “Share Her Journey”. The campaign consists of a five year commitment from the festival to increase skills, participation and opportunities for female actresses, directors and camera operators.
TIFF stands with women in film. ✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿
— TIFF (@TIFF_NET) October 5, 2018
The festival hopes to continue this trend in the coming years matching other prestigious film festivals like the Sundance, Venice, and Cannes film festivals. These have also seen an increased number of female directors in their entries especially the Sundance Festival, which had a 12 per cent increase of female directors in their entries compared to last year.
If you would like to participate in the cause, you can donate at TIFF.net/shareherjourney or by calling 1-888-599-TIFF (8433).