The push to add more women to Manitoba’s film industry

A national conference aimed at ushering in more women into Manitoba’s film trades industry is expanding.

Film Training Manitoba (FTM) announced its conference, coined Canada’s Supporting Women in Film Trades (SWIFT), is coming to RRC Polytechnic on Nov. 25 and 26 with an expanded slate of speakers, panels and training sessions.

All are aimed at improving the workplace culture to retain and attract more women and women-identifying workers in the film and media industry.

“Globally, there’s no other conference that exists that is targeted specifically for women workers within the film industry,” said board member Ellen Rutter at a news conference Thursday.

Based on feedback from the 2022 conference, this year’s event will add longer, moderated panel discussions with a number of speakers, including a keynote address from former Governor General of Canada Michaëlle Jean and Winnipeg’s first woman mayor Susan Thompson.

Last year’s conference had 85 participants. Film Training Manitoba aims to have 150 this year.

All instructors, speakers and panellists at SWIFT are women.

One such panellist is cinematographer and filmmaker Tamara Roshka.

Roshka grew up on sets alongside her father, filmmaker Ernie Nathaniel. She was often one of the only women.

“It wasn’t until I was older that I realized things needed to change in the industry and to be more accessible and inclusive,” she said.

Filmmaker and cinematographer Tamara Roshka is pictured on Sept. 14, 2023 at a news conference announcing the expanded SWIFT conference.

Roshka was at last year’s conference as a participant.

Attending allowed her not only to learn new skills, but to network with other women who have found success in the industry.

“SWIFT was also a very valuable conference where film professionals can build up their crews,” she said, noting it also led to the creation of a sold out film lab through FTM.

According to data from Film Training Manitoba, as of October 2021, less than 30 per cent of Manitobans working in trades positions in the film industry were women and women-identifying individuals.

As a result of these findings, SWIFT was founded in 2021 by a committee of fifteen women film professionals.

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