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Diverse casting taking centre stage in Manitoba film industry

Click to play video: 'Manitoba movies focus on diverse casts' Manitoba movies focus on diverse casts
You may have seen a movie set or two while driving through Winnipeg lately. That's because more production companies are setting up shop in the city. And as Marney Blunt reports, those films have an emphasis on diversity – Sep 24, 2021

Business is booming in the Manitoba film industry once again, as the industry works to overcome hurdles raised by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s busy, it’s promising, there’s lots of diversity happening here. We’re very excited,” Manitoba Film & Music CEO and film commissioner Rachel Rusen told Global News.

“We’ve been incredibly busy. We have seven projects right now in live production and 14 projects in post-production.”

Read more: Manitoba film industry highlighting local talent

Rusen says there’s an emphasis on diverse casting in many of those productions, with one recent project featuring the largest Black-led production in Canadian history.

There is also currently a call out for hundreds of Indigenous extras for a TV series, and Rusen says scouting is currently underway for another Indigenous production.

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“The story is Little Bird, it’s going to be for Crave and it’s the story of an Indigenous woman who is adopted and searching for her family and her roots here in the Canadian Prairies,” she said. “They’re here right now and they’re scouting in Brandon, Winnipeg and Selkirk and we’re very excited about that.”

Rusen says another feature film called Champions will soon be filming in Winnipeg. The movie is centered around a Special Olympics basketball team and stars Woody Harrelson. The production will be filming in Winnipeg from Nov. 1 to Dec. 17.

Read more: Okanagan film industry rebounds after COVID-19 took top billing

Champions is currently seeking adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities for the film.

“It’s a great opportunity. It’s a meaningful opportunity, an opportunity to be a part of the community, to work in the community, and meet new people,” St. Amant supervisor of leisure and opportunity Bre Brown said.

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Brown adds it shows the industry values the contributions that each person brings to the table.

“We all know that we are a diverse people, but what we really need is inclusion. And that is not just giving people a voice and not just giving people an opportunity to participate, but really valuing the contributions that every person brings to a community and to a project,” she said.

“I want to be able to see myself and I know everyone wants to be able to see themselves represented. It connects you – makes you feel connected not just to what you’re seeing but what you bring to your community and the world around you.”

Click to play video: 'Breaking down barriers through photography' Breaking down barriers through photography
Breaking down barriers through photography – Apr 20, 2021

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