FemToba Film Festival to showcase women, non-binary, trans filmmakers

By: Stacha Penner

Women, non-binary, and trans filmmakers across the prairies will have the opportunity to submit their short films to Manitoba’s first-ever FemToba Film Festival this April.

The Womxn’s Film and Video Network (WFVN) is organizing the festival for marginalized filmmakers to connect, learn, and be seen within Canada’s film industry.

“I hope it has a positive impact and gives women, non-binary, and trans filmmakers confidence,” said Sara Bulloch, Winnipeg director and WFVN coordinator. “It’s hard to have the confidence to do something if you don’t see someone like you doing it.”

When Bulloch began working in film, she said she wanted to stick to editing, shying away from directing and other leadership roles.

“I kind of had this image of a dude director, auteur,” said Bulloch. “I think historically, it’s been the norm.”

It took Bulloch time to find a community within Winnipeg’s film industry where she felt comfortable sharing her stories and asking questions freely.

“I remember going to general events, and there were groups of dudes who weren’t trying to be exclusionary but were naturally drawn to each other because they all loved Quentin Tarantino and stuff,” Bulloch said. “The Womxn’s Film and Video Network was a nice change of pace from that.”

Johanna Reimer-Henteleff on a Women’s Film and Video Network group tour of Shaw TV Winnipeg./SARA BULLOCH

There has been an increase in underrepresented creatives in Manitoba’s film industry over the past five years, according to Erin Hembrador, a Filipino director and FemToba selection committee member. However, she said there is still a long way to go.

“I think now, we’re here to say, ‘Hey, we can tell our own stories. We don’t need other people to tell our stories for us,’” Hembrador said.

For a long time, Hembrador said she wrote stories like the ones she saw in movies, centring white male protagonists in her screenplays.

“I started asking myself why I wrote stories I thought people wanted to hear based on what I’d seen in the past,” Hembrador said. “The emergence of more women filmmakers gave me confidence in who I am and what I represent.”

Making films based on your own experiences can be very personal at times, making it harder to share them with an audience, according to Bulloch.

You’re just so scared of judgement, but it can be very rewarding,” said Bulloch. “Although some people may not get your film, there are going to be people who really get it, giving you the reinforcement to keep making awesome art.”

Bulloch hopes FemToba Film Festival will give women, non-binary, and trans filmmakers a comfortable space to screen their films and show anyone interested in film they can do it to.

Submissions for FemToba Film Festival will close on April 1. The festival is set to take place on May 27 on the Winnipeg Art Gallery rooftop.