Christa Dickenson will depart her role at Telefilm Canada. The theatrical film funding agency announced today that Dickenson will step down from her position as executive director and CEO on September 9. She was appointed to the position in July 2018.
During the four years under Dickenson’s tenure, Telefilm Canada saw significant change, both prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and during the last two years, which rocked the industry with theatrical closures, production shutdowns, and major shifts to digital platforms among film exhibition. Telefilm Canada administered the Canadian Audio-Visual Short-Term Compensation Fund to keep cameras rolling and filmmakers working amid the pandemic. The last two years also saw Telefilm Canada respond and adapt to growing concerns to level the playing field for filmmakers who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour. This push for a more inclusion system grew alongside industry efforts to ensure gender parity among production.
Telefilm also saw national consultation on the previously outdated Success Index in order to bring it up to speed with the realities in which filmmakers premiere and release their work in a changing landscape, which included a controversial discontinuation of the Fast Track program. That funding corridor let producers with proven track records speed through the funding process and, leading up to the decision, some of Canada’s costliest duds. The organization also grew the Development Program and the Talent to Watch Program to foster emerging talents. Docs ushered through the Talent to Watch program include Chase Joynt’s collaborative Sundance award-winning Framing Agnes, Lulu Wei’s Honest Ed’s doc There’s No Place Like This Place, Anyplace, and Joannie Lafrenière’s RIDM closer Gabor. The years under Dickenson’s leadership also saw Telefilm modernize with inclusive hiring practices
“It was a difficult decision to make, but since I set out to make meaningful change, I felt that after all we accomplished together, I could leave to take on a new challenge within another organization,” said Christa Dickenson in a statement from Telefilm Canada. “I am proud of the Telefilm team, an accomplished and passionate team of dedicated professionals who have proven to be particularly agile and determined during this period of profound transformation. Telefilm has a solid foundation to continue to support the audiovisual industry as a whole and enable it to flourish. The future of this industry is promising.”
In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Dickenson stood by her track record at Telefilm and noted that she felt it was time to move on while leaving the Canadian film sector in a better state after building upon feedback and consultations with stakeholders to modernize the organization’s role. “We’re a $1.1-billion industry that is becoming truly inclusive from the inside out,” Dickenson told the Globe. “We should be incredibly optimistic about the future.”