Featured Funded Project
Focus Area: Arts & Culture Grant Program: Fund for Gender Equality

Lantern Films wants trans and gender-diverse representation behind the scenes of upcoming film

Empress of Vancouver, a biopic of drag icon Oliv Howe uses storytelling to heal—and ensure representation behind the scenes

Through the Fund for Gender Equality, it was important to support projects that recognize the diversity of gender identities beyond the binary to advance gender equality across the spectrum. It’s with this ethos that we awarded a grant to a project led by Lantern Films and Access to Media Education Society (AMES).

Lantern Films is a Vancouver-based film studio that centres community within their filmmaking with particular focus on representation. AMES is a non-profit that engages young people with experiences in oppression through digital storytelling and peer facilitation. This year, Lantern Films is producing and directing a film called Empress of Vancouver about queer history in Vancouver told through the life of local drag queen icon, Oliv Howe.

Building Capacity in Film and Facilitation

Combining their expertise in film, facilitation, and dialogue, Lantern Films and AMES have developed capacity building opportunities for BIPOC  (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) women, Two-Spirit, trans, and gender-diverse people in the production of the film and dialogue about its themes.

“That capacity building is so important,” says Dave Rodden Shortt, co-founder and director at Lantern Films. “The film will benefit so much from the involvement of a more diverse and broader team and diverse perspectives, which will inform the film and make it better.”

“We also want to give people some opportunity to make an income since the arts community has lost a lot of income because of COVID,” adds Jessica Hallenbeck, co-founder and producer at Lantern Films. “It’ll also give them formal credit that they can use to leverage ongoing work in the industry.”

Twelve paid mentorships have been created for emerging filmmakers and five paid mentorships have been created specifically for people from Two-Spirit, trans, and gender-diverse communities in conducting community-based research, developing dialogue and education programs on trans histories, and learning facilitation skills. They will also use the film to engage people in dialogue about justice and gender equality.

“We need more opportunities and support for those who have the most structural barriers in history to be centred and not just included,” says Jessica. “There are no commissionin