A Summary of WIFTI SUMMIT in Helsinki 2023

A Summary of WIFTI SUMMIT in Helsinki 2023

Women In Film and Television International (WIFTI) organised the Summit weekend in cooperation and by the invitation of WIFT Finland and WIFT Sweden with WIFT Finland in charge of the event production. The WIFTI Helsinki Summit 2023 was curated by Marjaana Mykkänen, in collaboration with Helene Granqvist, Dr. Susan Liddy, and Kirsten Schaffer, in cooperation with the WIFTI Knowledge, Advocacy, and Activism Committee. There was much joy in seeing familiar faces, especially since most of the attendees hadn’t travelled much in the last few years.

On Saturday, the conference saw a discussion on the current status of Gender Equality from researchers, professors, and professionals including Prof. Lisa French (Australia), Dr. Eva Flicker (Austria), Dr. Susan Liddy (Ireland), Dr. Greta Gober (Poland). They discussed change – what has changed, who’s responsible for change, what does change mean? Director Katja Gauriloff (Skolt Sámi, Finland), director Fawzia Mirza (US/Canada), and editor Theo Lindberg (Sweden) were in conversation with Victoria Thomas (UK).

Liselott Forsman from the Nordic Film & TV Fund talked about the impact of AI.

Laura Allen Muller from WIFT Denmark spoke about their campaign “A BIGGER PICTURE” which aims to improve the representation of minorities in Danish Film and TV.

Andria Wilson Mirza from WIF LA shared some insights into how the ReFrame Initiative (a collaboration between WIF LA and the Sundance Institute) designs and leads systemic change programs in Hollywood and how they develop partnerships with key industry leaders and companies. Within the ReFrame Initiative, they are now launching ReFrame ReSource – an online hub of culture change tools and best practices created in collaboration with 50+ advocacy organisations, covering topics ranging from equity in development to production, hiring, and audience development.

Eeva-Sofia Anttonen from WIFT Finland presented a digital tool called “The Equality Tool for the AV industry” to help people in the industry take concrete actions to improve equality and comply with diversity legislation. They are launching it soon, and it will soon be available in Swedish!

The audience heard from Brigitte Monneau, Canada, about women as a specialist tool. They also heard from Domizia De Rosa, Italy, about rules for ethical behaviour in the AudioVisual Field Sector. Alejandra FC Zarazua, Sweden, disclosed insights from WIFT TECH.

WIF CEO Kirsten Schaffer, WIF LA, shared the celebration of WIF LA turning 50 with stories about how the community was built 50 years ago, what change looks like now, and what’s next for WIF and the movement, followed by an evening of dinner, dance and a celebration of WIF LA turning 50.

Helene Granqvist also presented the newly instated WIFTI Peace Prize to Anne Lajla Utsi from the Sámi Film Institute. The WIFTI Peace Prize rewards the efforts of embracing peace, even while experiencing tension, discomfort, and historical challenges. The prize honours the art of storytelling and the process of building constructive relationships.

Sunday morning started off with “Voices from the Indigenous North.” Pauliina Feodoroff remarked about how to re-learn communication with nature, Anne-Lajla Utsi (Sámi Film Institute) shared how three of the four films from their slate have premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, Victoria Thomas (UK) and Grace Maharaj (Sweden) talked about leadership and economic equity in the European media and entertainment context. Dr. Deborah Jermyn, Professor Bernadette Luciano, and Dr. Susan Liddy talked about inclusivity with a spotlight on age.

Then there was an opportunity to visit different rooms with different discussions – topics ranging from how to run a successful chapter, gender inclusive language and chapter names, benchmarking programs: mentoring, upskilling, advocacy, sustainability, experience on ageism and how to overcome it, the imperative and the impossibility of managing diversity, global guilds and peer groups.

Domizia De Rosa, Italy, Elina Knihtilä, Finland, Norma Jean Straw, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USA, Kirsten Schaffer, WIF LA were in a panel called “Culture Wars”, addressing the right-wing governments around the world who are using culture (including film, TV, media) to move forwards repressive agendas.

Hollywood, Bollywood, and Nollywood are the three largest film and television-producing regions in the world – but not in that order. Do you know who produces the most films? Guneet Monga Kapoor, India, Fawzia Mirza, US/Canada, Victoria Thomas, UK taught us that Nollywood and Bollywood are not terms used by their own industries and that from here on out we should all call them for what they are – the Nigerian film industry and the Indian film industry.

The Summit was enveloped with discussions on the next steps for WIFTI, and summaries from all the parallel group meetings earlier in the day.

In the afternoon, there was a ceremony of the change of guards where Helene Granqvist stepped down as president of WIFTI and Dr. Susan Liddy took over the reins. In between all the sessions, the attendees had time for chats, saunas, dips in the ocean or the pool (or both, for some), and all in all, it was a weekend full of community, love, respect, and simply amazing to share a room with people from six different continents and feel they are all working towards the same goal. A better world.

Thanks to Theo Lindberg for providing the original summary as well as for his great contributions to the event in question.

Women in Film Botswana attends Scriptwriting Workshop

Women in Film Botswana attends Scriptwriting Workshop

The founders of Women in Film Guild Botswana, Serena Serene Mmifinyana and Nikita Neo Mokgware are currently attending a screenwriting program by The Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa (ICAPA) Trust in Lagos, Nigeria.

The workshop is a training program in story-telling for the screen aimed at African women screenwriters who have a compelling project in late development. This program is partly funded by The Hawthorne Foundation, and facilitated by DFK Films, a screenwriting consultancy company run by Gabriele Sindler and Donat Keusch who are one of Europe’s leading script analysts. Tsitsi Dangarembga is the founder of ICAPA Trust and one of the pioneers of black women’s filmmaking on the continent. Industry practitioners on the African continent often short-change story development due to a lack of funding and education opportunities for the process. Yet, script development is arguably the most important part of motion picture development. 

art of sustainability wifti

ICAPA Trust expects several films from this year’s workshop to proceed to production, as the Trust is setting up a special vehicle for productions that come out of its training activities. Ms Mmifinyana and Ms Mokgware are very confident that their project will be one of the successes to be recognized. Their project, Dimo in the Sky, is the only animation project in the program. This is the same project that was chosen to be pitched at Pavillion Afriques at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival and has garnered much attention and interest from producers and stakeholders both in and out of the continent. Ms. Mmifinyana and Ms. Mokgware are both very grateful for this program, as it is enabling them to improve on their story-building to lock in a film that will resonate with an international audience. All of this can further improve the quality of their films, and take back their knowledge to help improve the quality of films in Botswana.

Watch the 2023 WIFTI Panels

Watch the 2023 WIFTI Panels

WIFTI organised the 2023 Summit in cooperation and by the invitation of WIFT Finland and WIFT Sweden with WIFT Finland in charge of the event production. The WIFTI Helsinki Summit 2023 is supported by Nordisk Film & TV Fond, the Finnish Film Foundation, Hanaholmen Cultural Center, the West Finland Film Commission, City of Espoo, Turku Business Region, Helsinki City, and Audiovisual Producers of Finland, Business Finland and Aurora Studios.

Many of these panels are now available to watch via a curated WIFTI YouTube Playlist! Watch experts discuss gender equality, highlight voices from the Indigenous North, illustrate their search for inclusivity with a spotlight on age, and lay out the next steps for WIFTI, among many other insightful conversations!

Promoting Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Screen Sector

Promoting Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Screen Sector

After the WIFTI Summit in Helsinki, Women in Film and Television International welcomes Dr. Susan Liddy as its new President and Chair of WFT Ireland. During the event, Dr. Liddy took the stage to the stage to share an important message that reflects WIFTI’s mission to empower women in the screen industries worldwide. Watch this video back here now.

Dr. Liddy, an academic and advocate for gender equality, said “It is a privilege to have been chosen to lead WIFTI in the years ahead. I look forward to working with international colleagues in both WIFTI chapters and affiliated organisations, to further strengthen our global organisation and importantly, our connection to each other. For we are bound by a shared goal, to elevate and amplify the role of women in the screen industries across the world; across borders and across cultural divides.  We support each other first and foremost as women and as filmmakers. But we are also united in a vision of empowerment, advancement and solidarity which includes our allies in many marginalised communities with whom we stand shoulder to shoulder. Our goal is steadfast: to promote equality, diversity and inclusion in the screen sector everywhere.”

WIFTI’s commitment to empowerment and solidarity extends to all those who share their vision of a more inclusive and equitable screen industry. Dr. Liddy’s words reflect the dedication of WIFTI to creating a world where everyone has the opportunity to tell their stories.