Established in 1999, the Spotlight Awards™ have brought together the BC Film community to celebrate the outstanding achievements of BC women in screen-based media.

Awards were presented at The Spotlight Awards Gala™ on Thursday, March 8th, 2012 (International Women's Day) - the opening night of the 7th Annual Vancouver Women in Film Festival

Photographs by Wendy D Photography
Design by Julie Stangeland

Watch the award speeches at WIFTV's YouTUbe



This award is presented to a woman who has achieved significant success in the field of film or television, and who is recognized for mentoring other women in the industry.  Carol Whiteman is honoured for her commitment to advancing the directing careers of hundreds of women across Canada.  A two-time Governor General’s Award-nominee and screen industry award-winner for promoting women’s equality and mentoring talent in Canada, Carol is a co-creator of Women In the Director’s Chair program (WIDC). Through her work in lobbying government and the industry, facilitating workshop sessions, providing personal coaching, publishing the annual WIDC newsletter and administering the WIDC awards and fellowships, Carol has proven herself to be a game changer.   “I feel privileged to be able, in some small way, to help advance such talented story-tellers and the diverse screen-fiction stories they have to tell. Women In Film and Television Vancouver is a vital organization in our screen industry and I am humbled, thrilled and deeply honoured by this recognition.”




This award is presented to a woman who has achieved significant success in the field of film or television, or who has created a significant film or television production in the past year and who is recognized for mentoring other women in the industry.  This year’s recipient is director Penelope Buitenhuis, who receives this award both for her body of work and for her recent indie feature, A Wake.  Born in Toronto, Penelope graduated from SFU film in Vancouver in the 80's. Living in Paris, then Berlin for ten years, she became known as an experimental filmmaker touring her shorts worldwide culminating in a retrospective at MOMA in New York in 1991. But Llaw, a short about the fall of the Wall launched her career at the Berlin Film Festival. Her first feature Trouble, shot in Berlin, won awards and led her back to Canada, directing thrillers Boulevard and Dangerous Attraction & ten movies for television, including the acclaimed CBC true story Giant Mine. In series, she was a ground breaking woman director on Kung Fu, the Legend Continues & Lonesome Dove along with many other television episodes. Her National Film Board documentary Tokyo Girls won two Gemini Awards and sold worldwide. Her most recent feature A Wake received a Golden Palm at the Mexico International Film Festival; First Prize screenplay at The Rhode Island International Film Festival and Clint Eastwood presented her with best feature at The Carmel Arts and Film Festival in 2010. "I am thrilled to receive the Artistic achievement award for Women in The Spotlight. With our feature A Wake, my-co-writer Krista Sutton and I wanted to create outstanding roles for women and use improvisation to achieve visceral performances. Judging from all our awards, it worked. Thank you."




This award honours a woman who demonstrates vision, experimentation and innovation in the telling of women's stories in screen based media, and who has created a significant body of work in these forms or an outstanding new work. Jill receives this award for her most recent film, Bone Wind Fire. Since the early 1990’s director Jill has created an award winning body of work in the documentary genre. Her films have been presented internationally at film
festivals and broadcast in over 20 countries. Amongst her credits: Corporations in the Classroom; Girls Don’t Fight; Weird Sex and Snowshoes: A Trek Through the Canadian Cinematic Psyche; CultureJam: Hijacking Commercial Culture; In The Company of Fear.  Her latest film Bone Wind Fire blends drama/doc/animation and to brilliantly explore the creative process of three painters: Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe and Emily Carr.  “I spent 7 years making this film as a tribute to three painters who had the determination, courage and passion to follow their muse in an era when women were considered the subjects of art and not its creator.   Pouring through their journals I felt their lifelong relationship with creativity itself was their true reward. I am honored to have WIFTV Vancouver recognize BONE WIND FIRE for artistic innovation – as it celebrates three great innovators – Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe and Emily Carr – who against the odds, left us with their vision.”




This award honours a woman who demonstrates vision, experimentation and innovation in the telling of women's stories in screen based media, and who has created a significant body of work in these forms or an outstanding new work. Dana Claxton is honoured for her work in film, video, photography, installation and performance art. She’s also honoured for mentoring youth and young artists. She has worked tirelessly promoting and supporting Aboriginal and Women’s rights. Her practice investigates beauty, the body, the socio-political and the spiritual. Dana’s work has been shown internationally at the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), Walker Art Centre, the Sundance Film Festival, the Eiteljorg Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney, AU). Her work is held in public collections including the Vancouver Art Gallery, National Gallery of Canada, Art Bank of Canada and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Claxton was born in Yorkton Saskatchewan and her family reserve is Lakota First Nations -Wood Mountain, located in beautiful Southwest Saskatchewan.  Her paternal Euro-Canadian Grandmother taught her how to harvest and preserve food and her maternal Lakota grandmother taught her to seek justice. Dana is the youngest of four siblings, an auntie, niece, cousin and daughter. “I am excited to be part of this vital community and realize the great privilege we have as women image makers.” 




This award honours a woman with a ‘behind-the-scenes’ role and for her continued efforts within the film and television community. This award is named in memory of Wayne Black of Alpha Cine who gave tirelessly of his time and talent to help filmmakers. Barbara founded the Vancouver Asian Film Festival (VAFF) and co-founded the Mighty Asian Moviemaking Marathon (MAMM) to promote realistic portrayals of Asians in film and television and to provide a venue for struggling Asian Canadian and Asian American filmmakers to showcase their work. VAFF is celebrating its Sweet Sixteen birthday this year and 2012 will mark MAMM's 8th Edition. Barbara is a writer and filmmaker in Vancouver and has worked as a broadcast journalist and reporter. In 1998, she received the regional and national Radio and Television News Directors’ Association (RTNDA) Award for Best Editorial and was the National Film Board Pacific Region’s REEL DIVERSITY 2004 winner.  Her NFB produced documentary BETWEEN THE LAUGHTER have aired on CBC and PBS. She is currently working on her first feature length horror screenplay and debut CD. "VAFF has been blessed to have grown up in Vancouver, a city that is rich in culturally diverse perspectives and home to many Independent Festivals that offer filmmakers and audiences the opportunity to share and experience unique storytelling."



Township 7
This award recognizes a person who has played a significant role in supporting women in the industry and has promoted the success of the organization.  Since our inception Malcolm Parry has been a true friend and supporter of WIFTV. Through his columns and articles he has helped present us to the city.  Malcolm is truly one of those people who needs no introduction, but for the record, after training as a civil engineer and working as a part-time musician, Malcolm Parry left England for British Columbia, became a professional photographer and continued doing so while launching, editing and writing for numerous consumer and business magazines and serving as a columnist at the Vancouver Sun.  “The first shot is usually the best.” 




Image Media Farm

This award honours a WIFTV volunteer who has significantly contributed to the advancement of WIFTV’s goals.  The award is named in memory of Sharon Gibbon, who exemplified these qualities in a career cut short too soon. For yearsphotographer Wendy D has brilliantly captured our events with her camera. Wendy believes in sharing, in community, in doing what you love and helping others do what they love. Wendy D is from Eastern Canada, no not Toronto, further east, New Brunswick. Surrounded by bountiful nature, and small town living, she started her love affair with photography at the age of eleven. People have always been her favourite subject and over the years she has honed in on her innate ability to help people feel comfortable in front of a lens. Wendy believes in sharing, in community, in doing what you love and helping others do what they love. Wendy has volunteered with Women in Film and Television Vancouver, the Celluloid Social Club, the Cultch and has been on the boards of CAPIC (Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators) and The Eastside Culture Crawl. She is currently also involved in a small group trying to bring policy regarding artists and studio spaces to the City of Vancouver. “Surround yourself with good people (your community), live your passion and help others live theirs.”



This award recognizes Vision and Excellence in the Teaching of Screen Based Media and for creating opportunities for and providing mentorship to women studentsStats show us that although roughly 47% percent of film students are women, only 12-25% of  all producers, writers and directors in the industry are female. And only 3% are Directors of Photography. This award is given to Doreen Manuel for her work with her media production students in the Indigenous Independent Digital Filmmaking Program (IIDF) at Capilano University, where she has nurtured and promoted First Nations and Métis stories. She has contributed enormously to the growth and sustainability of the Vancouver production community, APTN, Capilano University and countless Aboriginal programs, venues and distribution arms. From paradigm shifting documentaries to entertaining short films and sitcom pilots, Doreen has quietly and expeditiously given voice to the voiceless and empowered a burgeoning generation of Aboriginal filmmakers, especially young women. Doreen is from the Secwepemc and Ktunuxa First Nations. She is the sixth child of Grand Chief Dr. George Manuel and Marceline Manuel. She is a graduate of the two - year Aboriginal Film and Television Program (AFTP) at Capilano University and was the recipient of the Governor General of Canada’s Bronze Medal Award for academic excellence. Doreen comes from a long line of oral historians and factual storytellers and  is currently the Canadian Correspondent for the Native Heartbeat US news magazine program. “If you truly believe that you deserve a place in the industry… you don’t ask for it, you take it. To change the culture of the industry we must be fairly represented within that industry. Rise up to that challenge. It is as much about quality of workmanship as it is about the power of your woman warrior spirit. Use that power to excel yourself to the top.”




The Kodak Image Award is given to a female director or DOP for a recent short work that demonstrates excellence in overall production value or a unique, visionary approach to cinematography or storytelling.  Banchi Hanuse receives this award for her directorial debut Cry Rock, a stunning film about traditional Nuxalk storytelling in her hometown, Bella Coola. Banchi Hanuse is a graduate of the University of British Columbia.  She began in the film industry as a camera assistant and went on to work at the National Film Board of Canada in various capacities, most recently as the associate producer of the "Our World" project.  Cry Rock received Best Documentary Short Subject from the Yorkton Film Festival’s Golden Sheaf Awards and the Audience Choice award from the Dawson City International Short Film Festival.  “It is an honour to have the support of such a great organization.  Thank you Women in Film and Television Vancouver.”



This award is presented by the team at and honours the person or group who has done the most in the last year to promote gender equity in the film, television and/or screen based media. For five years Réalisatrices Équitables has been lobbying for gender equity for women directors in Quebec. Although almost as many women as men attend Quebec’s three main film schools, significantly fewer women than men work in the industry.  Réalisatrices Équitables (which means Fair Female Directors) realized the situation was unfair (as it is public money which finances the film and television industry) and have addressed the problem at the political and public level. Their actions generated a good deal of media attention and now after five years, they can say the status quo is not an option anymore.  “We hope that within five more years the changes will start to show. Thank you to Women in Film and Television Vancouver’s Spotlight Awards and The Please Adjust Your Set team. It’s a great honour and we do believe that gender equity is possible coast to coast…even in the film and TV/media industry."

Established in 1989, Women In Film + Television Vancouver Society (WIFTV) is an internationally-affiliated non-profit society committed to advancing and celebrating women in screen-based media. We are the Vancouver chapter of Women in Film + Television International (WIFTI), which counts more than 10,000 members world-wide.