Why I Chose Montreal

February 20, 2015

“You speak English? Ever thought of moving to Toronto?”

“What are you doing here? There is so much more work in Vancouver!!!”

“Why didn’t you try New York?”

“OMG…the place to be is Hollywood!”

 

I am a Montrealer.

I am here because we are creators. We do great things here. We are an artistic city filled with artistic people. I want to work both in French and English because such is my identity. Montreal is THE city for bilingual people. At this time, it feels like two solitudes but I believe one day we will bridge that gap and jump from one to the other, as work presents itself, without people assuming we are only part of one OR the other. We will create projects together. I also believe we will close the gap regarding ethnic representation in the arts which will eventually disappear if people like me stay here, work here, create here, build here, write new projects here. Running away won’t fix the problem.

And finally, I stay here because, in Quebec, especially in French, based on shows that I have seen, I have the impression that women work. Women of all ages work. Far more than what I have seen on Canadian and American television. Now I am not saying the problem is fixed, there is room for improvement.  Some francophone writers have created some impressive female leads in some of the most popular shows here. High-five to them!

(Let’s ignore the fact that 99% of these leads are played by actresses who are part of the Quebec star system. That is another issue. I’ll tackle that issue another time. Let’s also ignore the fact that 99.9% are Caucasian. That also is another issue. That will also be tackled at a later date. For now, I applaud the fact that Quebec shines in its ability to portray female leads.)

Needless to say I was disappointed when I saw the Sodec finalists in December 2014. Of the 12 chosen up-coming feature films, only 2 include females in the synopsis and main plot of the film. Only 2 are of female writers. Only one will be directed by a woman (and she happens to be one of the 2 writers).

That’s it.

The rest is male.

There are plenty of female writers and female directors out there, just like there are plenty of actresses out there. And because women in our society work, you would think there would be a fair representation of gender for the big screen.

Let’s not even mention diversity; of the 12 selected features, only one has a male character heading to Haiti.

None of these 12 selected features are “historical” pieces in which case one may expect a stronger male presence. And had there been a historical piece in the selection, would we have seen First Nations? Unfortunately, they seem to be shunned from our Quebec screens regardless of the time period.

(That is another subject to tackle in a future blog.)

Ladies, there is still a lot of work to be done in respect to fair representation of our gender in the arts. There is even more work regarding ethnic representation in our field and, unfortunately, even more work regarding female ethnic representation. That is why I chose to stay in my hometown, right here, in Montreal.

Who is up for the challenge? Ladies, on your marks, get set… write, create!

Natalie

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