Last month, we shared an outline of some of the initial steps and initiatives that the CFC will take to address systemic racism internally, within all of our offerings, and within the screen-based industry more generally.
We remain fully committed to making meaningful, transformative change to all aspects of our organization, and will continue to keep an open dialogue with you on the progress we make.
Here are some of the initial steps that the CFC is taking to deliver on our Commitment to Change. This is only the beginning. While the results of our efforts will be measured in the years to come, we also believe impactful change can begin right now.
We have expanded mandatory anti-oppression and anti-racism training across the entire organization. This ongoing series of workshops is facilitated by respected artist, anti-oppression consultant and liberation educator Rania El Mugammar. Rania has worked extensively with hundreds of organizations, collectives and institutions and led the CFC’s Anti-Oppression workshop for last year’s Film, Acting and Music programs. We had our first session with Rania last week and look forward to our second workshop in early August.
We received feedback from alumni and we recognize and acknowledge that some of our program offerings and practices need to change and be reimagined through a lens of inclusion and anti-racism in order for all talent and voices to feel welcomed, respected and safe to fully engage in these opportunities. Here are some of the preliminary steps we are taking towards making that happen:
- We will establish a BIPOC Alumni Advisory Group to work alongside and advise the CFC’s Executive/Programs Team on priorities and action plans to address racialized inequities at the CFC and in the screen industry; increased transparency; support for alumni after leaving the CFC; and how we will together establish the CFC as an agent of change in our industry.
- This Alumni Advisory Group will be integral to our collective accountability on changes we all want to make, and will eventually expand to include alumni from all communities.
- The Executive/Programs Team and the Alumni Advisory Group will create a questionnaire for our BIPOC alumni as an avenue for sharing your/their feedback on what experiences need to be bettered and which changes you/they want to see prioritized. We hope alumni will be candid in their feedback; as such, the questionnaire will include an option for anonymity.
- We will engage a BIPOC Consultant to synthesize and present feedback from this questionnaire to both the Alumni Advisory Group and CFC’s Executive/Programs Team. We will use your/their feedback to inform the CFC’s priorities and actionable items.
- In addition, our Programs team will establish program-specific alumni working groups to work as Program Advisors. Together, we will revise program design with some of the above priorities and actionable items in mind. Advisors will ideally also be available to check in with the residents at key stages throughout their experience and participate in the debriefing process at the end of the programs.
- All Advisors will be compensated for their services.
As we continue to examine all our program offerings in terms of how to best address the needs of BIPOC creators, we are pleased to move forward with a reimagining process for CFC Features.
We are delighted that renowned producer and CFC alumnus Damon D’Oliveira has agreed to contribute his expertise to this important project. He will consult with alumni to collect feedback on their program experience while assessing existing gaps in the Canadian feature film industry that a new Features program could help fill. Damon and the CFC share the same goal of creating an innovative streamlined program with a sharper diversity focus, optimal financial and creative support where it is needed most by filmmakers from across Canada, as well as maximizing film performance through key industry partnerships and promotional support. We are thankful for Damon’s ongoing commitment to the CFC and to this undertaking and we are excited to see this take shape.
Finally, we are delighted to share with you that we have engaged CFC alumnus Charles Officer to produce a new virtual special event in September (exact date to be announced) that will replace the CFC Annual BBQ Fundraiser. CFC BLOCKO!, produced by Canesugar Mediaworks, with Charles Officer as Creative Director, will be an exciting virtual block party featuring a DJ, musical performances, skits, and more. It will bring together BIPOC CFC alumni, comrades and community to (re)unite, (re)connect, and (re)engage, while celebrating and spotlighting Black creators. Stay tuned for further details about CFC BLOCKO! in the coming weeks.
We recognize there is much work to be done. In September, we look forward to sharing with you another update on our Commitment to Change, including additional initiatives and action plans to address systemic racism; a detailed plan for the safe return of CFC staff to the workplace; a description of, and anticipated schedule for, the re-opening of CFC’s in-person programming; and an update on the challenges faced by the CFC throughout the pandemic.
We thank you, our valued alumni and stakeholders, for your support to date and your belief in the CFC’s resolve to bring about change for the betterment of our creative communities and the industry as a whole.
Update to CFC BLOCKO! (September 2020):
The CFC had initially offered our platform to alumnus Charles Officer to create a new virtual event in place of the CFC Annual BBQ. The CFC wanted Charles to use this platform to speak to issues and realities that were front and centre for him, to focus this platform on the essential conversation. So this is how Charles and the CFC have decided to move forward:
“At the core of the event, it was about personal conversations with Black CFC alumni. Creators who span generations but share a common language – speaking truth to power. The virtual event has been reimagined as a doc series and a call to action piece. It will launch in October 2020 and run for 7 consecutive weeks on the CFC’s YouTube channel. The series is about unifying support for future Black creators through a new CFC Bursary Fund.” – Charles Officer
The CFC is committed to strengthening our relationship with Black creators and talent, and we are establishing a new multi-year cash Bursary Fund to provide financial resources to offset tuition and provide monthly bursary support for BIPOC talent participating in our core training programs. This new Bursary Fund will be in place as of October.
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