WIFTJA's new board makes impact in first year
WIFTJA board and members at the first in-person Link Up of 2022.

FROM new international partnerships to an increase in membership, the past year has been one filled with numerous achievements for professional organisation, Women in Film and Television — Jamaica (WIFTJA).

WIFTJA is the local chapter of professional organisation, Women in Film and Television International (WIFTI), which is a global network of nearly 40 Women in Film chapters worldwide, with more than 10,000 members.

WIFTJA, which was made an official international chapter in 2020, swelled its ranks by 43 members in the past year as it continued to fulfil its mandate of offering valuable mentorship and opportunities to local female creatives in screen-based media.

President Nadean Rawlins, who was elected to be a director on the international board of WIFTI and who sits on the industry committee, expressed her satisfaction of a year well spent for the organisation.

"We are really pleased with the progress we have made with the various initiatives and the overall work of the various arms of WIFTJA. We continue to push forward in 2023 as we seek to identify more opportunities for our members as well as further concretising our footprint in the local film-making industry through impactful work," Rawlins stated.

In terms of outreach activities, WIFTJA was able to fulfil its internal mandate of forming partnerships with local, regional, and international stakeholders through several collaborations. These include the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, under which they are registered as an entertainment company, and collaboration with the New York Chapter of WIFT (NYWIFT). This resulted in a member receiving a complimentary pass to a 3-day NYWIFT 2022 finance institute programme where opportunities for funding were explored. All members of the local chapter also received a 50 per cent discount to the programme as well.

WIFT Toronto offered free membership to two local members, and discussions are underway to facilitate dual membership for all members of the local chapter as well as identify appropriate training programmes for Jamaican members.

Vice-president of WIFTJA Mezan Ayoka was also acknowledged in WIFT Toronto's screening guide 2022 for her role as a script supervisor in the feature film When Morning Comes.

WIFTJA also partnered with the San Antonio Black International Film Festival (SABIFF) to facilitate a panel discussion on the animation industry which was recorded and is available on YouTube. Coming out of this initiative as well was a 50 per cent discount for local members for submission of films to SABIFF.

Additionally, WIFTJA became an official partner of the Female Film Club (FFF), an online community and app where film-makers worldwide are able to collaborate and work on their craft. From this partnership, each member will receive a free two-month FFF trial membership, with a free one-year trial membership to be granted to an upcoming film-maker in WIFTJA.

Other WIFTI initiatives members benefited from included a 30 per cent discount to popular online film database IMDb as well as participation of WIFTJA member Stephanie Hazle Lyle with her feature film project, Hummingbird, in the WIFTI Worldwide pitch project that was powered by streaming giant Netflix.

As the organisation looks to further the opportunities for local film-makers in 2023 it will focus on several main areas including amping up their online presence, hosting more women-centred events and workshops, and personal outreach to include scriptwriting labs, hosting screenings, career coaching and mentorship.

WIFTJA President Nadean Rawlins (left) and Romi Toyloy, WIFTJA secretary, support local filmmaking at GATFFEST 2022.
WIFTJA VP Mezan Ayoka (left), and WIFTJA President Nadean Rawlins officially introduce WIFTJA's mandate, mission and vision to Marisa Benain (right), national director of culture and creative industries, Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.

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