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Women Filmmakers Honored at Toronto With Birks Diamond Tribute

Before walking the red carpet Sept. 11 for the world premiere of her third feature, the Sasheer Zamata-starring pic “The Weekend,” pictured above, Toronto-born writer-director Stella Meghie was feted with five other Canadian cinema artists at the sixth annual Birks Diamond Tribute to the Year’s Women in Film, co-presented with partner Telefilm Canada at a splashy private event Sept. 10.

Meghie, whose debut comedy “Jean of the Jones” screened here in 2016, and Quebec director Jeanne Leblanc, now at work on her second feature, “Les notres,” are honored in the Emerging Talent category, which was added this year.

Now based in L.A., Meghie, who is also an ambassador for TIFF’s Share Her Journey initiative, welcomes these kind of opportunities. “For the most part I try to stay focused on the work,” she told Variety, “But I’m happy to lend my voice and talk about the state of where women are in the industry and where we deserve to be.”

Other Tribute honorees include veteran screenwriter Susan Coyne (“Mozart in the Jungle”), documentarian Nettie Wild, Quebec actress Pascale Bussieres and screen veteran Tantoo Cardinal, whose 48-year career includes “Dances With Wolves” and no less than three pics in this year’s festival — Miranda de Pencier’s “The Grizzlies,” Don McKellar’s “Through Black Spruce” and Darlene Naponse’s “Falls Around Her,” which marks first starring role in a feature.

For the first time this year, Tribute honorees will receive cash award from Birks, as opposed to diamonds as was done in previous years. “Telefilm and Birks have an open dialogue and the event has evolved for six years,” said Telefilm executive director Crista Dickenson, who joined the government funding agency last month. “And condensing the list to six (from 12) this year gives the honorees greater visibility on the red carpet and an opportunity to make short remarks at the event.”

Diamonds may still be a girl’s best friend, but when it comes down to it, women in film need money and a platform to share their stories.


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