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Award-winning producer Kat Baulu shares her passion and new project

Meet Kat Baulu, a producer with Quebec/Atlantic Studio at the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada, a public producer, and distributor. In an email interview, Baulu talked about her career and the call for proposals for short films on Reimagining My Quebec.

Reimagining My Quebec is a new initiative for anglophone, allophone, and Indigenous filmmakers from Quebec and Nunavik that will give emerging and established directors a chance to create artful short documentaries with the NFB.

When it comes to what Baulu enjoys most about her work, she said she enjoys those with a clear purpose to their work. “I admire people who lead their lives with mission and purpose. One person who inspires me is legendary Abenaki filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin,” she said. “With an astonishing career spanning over five decades at National Film Board of Canada, she’s made over 50 films that focus on issues facing Indigenous people in Canada. Alanis embodies what it means to make art for social impact. It’s humbling to witness one person who truly makes a difference every day.”

Baulu’s work as a producer raises social impact, even from her previous documentary work on Gun Runners. Baulu’s role is responsible for supporting creators to tell relevant and meaningful stories about Canada to Canadians and people around the world.

“The best part of my job is accompanying filmmakers in their creative process: from idea to finished film through to impact with audiences,” she said. “I love creating conditions for filmmakers to thrive artistically and express their point of view. I root for their success.”

“Collaborating with artists in the public space is such a privilege. At the NFB, our values are driven by relevance. Every day we ask ourselves, are we raising under-represented voices? Is what we are creating valuable and meaningful?” she added. “I am thrilled to work with filmmakers on their creative interpretation of reimagining their Quebec because I believe we have a chance to surface issues of identity, class, and status for further discussion and raise consciousness about the positive change we dream about for our society, and our world.”

Baulu is excited about the current project – Reimagining My Quebec, which is an opportunity to make a short English documentary in Quebec with the NFB.

“Reimagining My Quebec is the brainchild of my executive producer Annette Clarke. She is a true champion for filmmakers and storytellers of all stripes. She is a Newfoundlander and believes that great stories often emanate from a deep sense of place,” Baulu said. “We hope this call will draw out unique and intimate stories from across Quebec, which surprise and transform us.”

The type of story she’s looking for revolves around something Scottish documentary filmmaker Scott Grierson calls, “creative interpretations of actuality,” which focusses on the human condition through point-of-view documentary storytelling. “If you have a story that you are uniquely positioned to tell, that you have a personal connection with, that you have unique access, this call for proposals is for you. We are excited about powerful, emotional and important social issue-driven stories,” Baulu said. “For us, the process is as important as the outcome. What is your relationship to your participants? How will you treat them at the beginning and the end of the process of making your film? We are enthusiastic when filmmakers are considering their ethics as well as the art and impact.”

The deadline for submissions is August 8.

Paris street harassment just one case of many

A woman named Marie Laguerre was walking down the streets of Paris last week when some idiot thought it would be appropriate to harass her on the street. After she shut told him to shut up, he walked up to her and struck her in the face before taking off like a coward.

The only thing more rage-inducing than these animals who can’t take a hint is that there are still people who believe this is an isolated incident.

It obviously isn’t just me who undergoes harassment on the street or on the bus. But, I’ve gone through my fair share of cat-calling, wolf whistling, and being stared down on the subway. One incident that particularly comes to mind is when I was on the way home with my mother on the subway. This older man sat across from me and my mom and kept staring at me, looking down at my chest, then back at me, smiling the whole time. I glared right back at him, but he only turned away when he sensed that my mother would punch a hole in his chest if he didn’t stop looking at me. It didn’t end there, though. He whipped out his phone and then went to some porn site in the middle of a crowded car. He refrained from touching himself, but he drew the disgusted glances of women entering the car as they saw a pair of large, wet breasts bouncing up and down on his screen. I was mortified.

Sure, you can rip into these guys. But at what cost? You have no idea how they’re going to react and this Paris incident is only one of thousands. I don’t want to deal with someone following me down the street. I don’t want to deal with someone trying to harass me or attack me just because he’s too weak to handle being told off. It’s blood-boiling to know that these street harassers can’t take no for an answer and the only way they can assert their feigned sense of dominance is to attack someone for shutting them down. Yeah, you’re real tough.

Plenty of women I know were called crude names after telling off catcallers. What was “Hey, mama” a second ago soon becomes “Whatever, you ugly bitch.” Sometimes you have them exit their cars and walk up to you and start an altercation because nothing screams “Look at me, I deserve the attention of women” like harassing whoever doesn’t respond to piggish advances.

There are also the typical “Why didn’t you tell him off?” comments. This video is why. The countless other incidents just like it is why. Look at the woman who bumped into that guy on the Westminster SkyTrain station and then was pushed on the ground, close to the tracks. He also threw his coffee all over her before knocking her down. She didn’t even say anything to the guy. How can you honestly ask why women don’t confront street harassers or cat callers when unprovoked attacks are just as likely to happen?

The good news is that with the Paris case, the majority of people are rallying behind her in support of not only catching this guy but also in understanding that this type of behaviour has no place in society.

However, it would be incorrect to say that there aren’t people placing blame on the woman. Without naming names, Facebook comments on various news posts have ranged from “we must get both sides of the story before we judge,” “Question…..Why did the woman not go directly into the restaurant and call the police but only came back to argue with this idiot….Then she walks away…Not stay around, call the police, and get witnesses…..something fishy!!!!,” “KARMA……..” and one man who simply commented “Nice.”

The comments on the woman being pushed on the ground weren’t much better. Dozens of people were commenting on how she got what she deserved, how him pushing her wasn’t unprovoked, and how the woman was no victim.

These types of incidents are everywhere. Ask just about any woman you know and you’ll be introduced to just how many times this has happened and in what capacity. More awareness needs to be raised about these issues without welcoming comments from trolls or conspiracy theorists. This type of behaviour needs to end and the more awareness people raise and the more everyone talks about it, the more educated people become.

The only good thing that came out of all this was that people everywhere are talking about ways to end street harassment. People are seeing first-hand what kind of things women go through on a daily basis.

It’s not right for a woman to fear standing up for herself, just like it isn’t right to have women harassed on a daily basis. But, a woman’s hands are tied because the majority of the time she either endures harassment and goes on her way or tells the guy off and risks being physically assaulted.

What kind of world is that to live in?

Tanya Ramond, aerospace engineer and BridgeSat leader, talks focus, balance and equality

I had the chance to speak to a truly remarkable woman. Her name is Tanya Ramond and she is an aerospace engineer. Currently she works at BridgeSat as the Director of Product Development and prior to this she had worked with big  companies like NASA and York Space.

 Initially I thought she would be an intimidating figure to talk with but that wasn’t the case at all. She is actually extremely friendly, and thoughtful.  She spoke with purpose, thinking carefully about the answers she was giving to my questions in our discussion.

Tanya’s main focus is on engineering and science but she has a great interest in business and marketing, which is why she chose to step out and join BridgeSat. She is in a leadership role  and is a member of the company which focuses on  connecting satellites from space to the ground while meeting the demand for big data collection from low Earth orbit.

She spent 10 years in aerospace engineering at large companies, but knew that she wanted to expand into development and marketing.

“I think that I was ready to just go for something different. I’ve worked at a fairly large established aerospace company…but I think at that point my interest in not just engineering but also the business, was coming to life.”

Tanya completed her MBA, and now uses these relative skills in her role at BridgeSat. Ramond  has her sights set  on taking control by making an impact and pioneering development and new technologies with her team. She shares that this is what BridgeSat and herself will focus on from this point.

Tanya has achieved great success over the years , but the roles she has held, have also come with great challenges.

She is often the lone woman in a room filled with men. Tanya is open and explained that while her team came up with groundbreaking technologies and products, as the only woman often in the group, she sometimes feels  like an outsider and is treated differently.

“There’s this layer of blatant sexism. Past that is a deeper layer that is a lot harder to articulate,” she said

When other women are present, Ramond encourages them to voice their opinions and mentors female co-workers to “chime in and to not be made to feel intimidated.”

Tanya spoke with me about how most  of the challenges she has had come down to being a woman in a workplace filled with men. She  knows there is a need for change and that it takes each one of us to step forward and explain what is and isn’t acceptable- as many are doing now that the #MeToo movement is sweeping the globe. Gender disparity must be driven out of the workplace and like many women, she wonders if she has the power to change the current environment.

Tanya agrees that “awareness is of most importance” and that “just the common acceptance that [these actions are] not OK” is a step in the right direction toward change. 

It would be wonderful to have the power to make that change instantly happen, but many more hurdles need to be cleared. I asked Tanya what super power she would most want to have and her response is what you might think an aerospace engineer would select-the power to fly. “If I were flying the plane, I’d do better,” she said.

As I think back to my interview with her I realize that Tanya is a strong, brilliant woman, she is a leader in her field and in her own way she soared beyond the limited structure of a male-dominated industry.

For more about the remarkable work that Tanya Ramond and BridgeSat do, go to http://www.bridgesatinc.com/

Time Magazine names ‘Silence Breakers’ as people of the year

In what is a serious slap in the face for U.S. President Donald Trump, Time Magazine named the women who started the #MeToo movement as Person (or People) of the Year for 2017.

These “silence breakers”, as they have been called, have influenced a global movement that has inspired women to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Men in prominent positions within the entertainment industry have lost contracts and are being investigated by police. Women are finally being heard. They are recounting their stories without fear or repercussion or consequence. Tens of thousands of people have used the #MeToo hashtag since American actress Alyssa Milano put a call out to her followers to show how widespread sexual harassment really is.

One in four women in North America will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime, and of every 100 assaults, only six are reported to the police. These statistics are even more grave when you consider that most people don’t share their #MeToo stories.

That’s why Time Magazine’s decision to showcase the silence breakers — “the voices that launched a movement — is so revolutionary.

The women being honoured include Ashley Judd, who went on the record with the New York Times detailing an incident with Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, Isabel Pascual (pseudonym), a strawberry picker from Mexico, Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer, and Adama Iwu, a corporate lobbyist, among many others like Alyssa Milano, Tarana Burke, Selma Blair. Juana Melara, and Taylor Swift.

Time Magazine editor in chief, Edward Felsenthal, told NBC’s Today show that “this is the fastest-moving social change we’ve seen in decades. It began with individual acts of courage by hundreds of women – and some men, too – who came forward to tell their own stories”.

The feature mixes the stories of those in the entertainment industry — the stories that are so prominently displayed in the news and on social media throughout 2017 — with the every day experiences of “regular” people, who may not get the spotlight as often. Housekeepers, fruit pickers, hospitality workers, journalists, and activists all told their stories.

It was rumoured that U.S. President Donald Trump would be named Person of the Year for 2017, just like last year, but that Time Magazine required a confirmed exclusive interview first. He tweeted that he would not promise an interview for an honour that was not guaranteed.

In the feature, Time Magazine does mention the United States President, but alludes instead to his Access Hollywood tape that shows Trump bragging about how he could just walk up to women and kiss them and “grab em by the pussy.”

Thousands of women took the streets during a Women’s March, held after Trump’s inauguration.

“The galvanizing actions of the women on our cover—Ashley Judd, Susan Fowler, Adama Iwu, Taylor Swift and Isabel Pascual—along with those of hundreds of others, and of many men as well, have unleashed one of the highest-velocity shifts in our culture since the 1960s.,” Felsenthal said in a statement about the choice. “We are in the middle of the beginning of this upheaval. There is so much that we still don’t know about its ultimate impact. How far-reaching will it be? How deep into the country? How far down the organizational chart? Will there be a backlash?”

Things are shaking up — finally, the voices of women are being heard. No longer is it simply assumed the woman “deserved it” or was “asking for it”. The global conversation, and the attention of the press is ensuring this movement stays alive. #MeToo will continue until women are no longer afraid to go to work or walk down a street alone.

It is a future many of us can only dream about.

What do you think of this year’s Person of the Year? Let us know in the comments below!

Time Magazine cover for Person of the Year 2017