For almost three decades, the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival (SJIWFF) (October 18-22) has been celebrating and screening films written, directed or produced by women. But the event (one of the longest-running women’s film festivals in the world) does much more than that.
Featuring international documentaries, short films and features, it also provides invaluable networking and training opportunities through interactive panels, pitching sessions and workshops where participants learn from the very best. The event also increases exposure for women filmmakers, while highlighting the province as a cultural hub and place to do business.
This year’s festival will kick off tomorrow evening, October 18, with Jordan Canning’s “Suck It Up,” screening at the Scotiabank Theatre, Avalon Mall during the ExxonMobil Opening Night Gala. It is partnerships like these that has helped the festival to flourish. But the relationship goes both ways, says company spokeswoman Margot Bruce-O’Connell.
“At ExxonMobil we are very focused on promoting inclusion and diversity, internally and in the communities in which we operate. This festival lines up perfectly with our focus. We have been supporting it for more than 10 years,” she says.
“Through our engagement with the SJIWFF, ExxonMobil Canada employees have an opportunity to meet and interact with creative, passionate female filmmakers. These women are promoting a culture of diversity and inclusion; they are sharing stories that might not otherwise be told or seen by the public.”
The rewards of supporting the arts, Bruce-O’Connell adds, are numerous – including getting the opportunity to witness first-hand what’s happening in the province and meeting the creative forces behind it.
“The rich arts and culture we find in this province, which by the way we sometimes take for granted, makes Newfoundland and Labrador a desirable place to live and work. It adds greatly to our quality of life,” she says.
“If we want to be able to see great plays, films and musicians, we need to support the artists and the people who create opportunities for sharing that talent.”
Jenn Brown, executive director of the SJIWFF, says it’s the support of those like Bruce-O’Connell and ExxonMobil that has helped make the festival such a success.
“Working with ExxonMobil has always been a pleasure and we are incredibly grateful of their support. We get to work with a company that values sharing the unique stories, cultures and perspectives of women filmmakers both globally and locally,” she says.
“Margot Bruce-O’Connell has been a huge supporter of the festival on behalf of ExxonMobil and a strong influence on a personal level – to partner with such an inspiring businesswoman and true community advocate has allowed us to learn a lot from her leadership.”