Telefilm Canada investigates allegations of employee misconduct

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Telefilm Canada, the film funding agency, has announced that it has launched an investigation into allegations of misconduct against one of its employees.The federal agency said the investigation was being conducted by a third party, the consulting firm Le Cabinet RH, which specializes in complaints of discrimination and psychological and / or sexual harassment.

A Telefilm statement does not name the employee, citing privacy concerns, but the investigation comes after allegations surfaced on social media regarding the conduct of Telefilm feature director Dan Lyon.

Last Friday, Canadian screenwriter-director Pavan Moondi published a series of tweets criticizing Lyon’s “opacity” in its decision-making within the crown corporation and its reasons for rejecting the funding of two of its projects. He called for Lyon’s resignation, alleging that the executive and Telefilm had taken too long to commit to committing in 2016 to reflect more diversity on the screen and to strengthen diversity initiatives. by 2020.

Responding to Moondi’s tweets, the writer Melissa D’Agostino alleged that Lyon had made him a sexually inappropriate comment at a party while offering him a meeting at Telefilm to talk about one of his scenarios. D’Agostino said she spoke about the incident in the film #MeAfterToo in 2019 and sent an email to Telefilm HR asking it to file a formal complaint, but no one responded to it by email.

Telefilm, Moondi and D’Agostino refused requests for interviews.

Lyon did not respond to requests for comment.

Calls for transparency and change of leadership

Moondi and D’Agostino’s tweets sparked calls for transparency, accountability and leadership change to reflect more diversity at Telefilm, which also promised in 2016 to achieve gender parity in key roles of the film by 2020.

On Tuesday, Canadian grassroots organization BIPOC TV & Film asked Telefilm to reveal its statistics on its funding for marginalized groups and the composition of its staff.

The group also asked Minister of Heritage Steven Guilbeault and Executive Director of Telefilm Canada Christa Dickenson to make several changes to society, including its board of directors, to reflect the racial diversity of the country.

Telefilm responded to BIPOC TV & Film in a statement on Wednesday, answering its questions on diversity and inclusion within the agency and noting that it cannot provide detailed figures to the group’s questions on certain financings, “Because the data was not collected”.

However, it provided other statistics, including those concerning projects funded by its Aboriginal component, and the data collected in the recent COVID-19 supplement for underrepresented communities.

Position of strength

As a feature film director at Telefilm for the Ontario and Nunavut region, Lyon decides who will receive funding for their projects with budgets below $ 2.5 million.

In his tweets last week, Moondi said that Lyon had “an inordinate amount of power” in its position and a “totally unpredictable” taste that was “disconnected from any knowledge of the [indie] film scene outside Canada. ”

“I don’t know exactly how long he has been in this role, but it has been long enough to shape whole generations and what we perceive as a” Canadian film “,” tweeted Moondi, who wrote and directed three feature films. footage: Every day is like Sunday, Diamond tongues and Sundowners. He has also written for series, including Schitt’s Creek.

The Los Angeles-based director also shared an email correspondence he had with Lyon about why he didn’t get funding for his projects.

The screenshots of the email exchange that Moondi posted show that Lyon wrote to Moondi that the script for his most recent project did not seem “ready for production” and that the mandate of the industry towards gender parity “makes the situation even more competitive. “For projects that don’t have women in key creative roles.

Moondi responded by saying that it was the second consecutive year that Lyon cited “gender parity” as a reason for rejecting its projects and that it “seemed to completely ignore that the writer, producer and director of the project is a person of color ”.

D’Agostino tweeted that over the past two years, she had looked for other ways to fund films.

“You shouldn’t have to create your own funding / streaming system to avoid harassment and discrimination,” she tweeted.

“We must take into account that women, BIPOC and other marginalized filmmakers continue to be discriminated against, harassed and misled by key funders and organizations in the Canadian film industry. There are public relations and lips, but no real change or action. “

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