by deirdre kelly
Christa Dickenson (MFA ’93) has been appointed executive director of Telefilm Canada, the federally funded agency that distributes about $100 million annually in support of the country’s audiovisual industry.
The 47-year-old former documentary filmmaker started her five-year term in July after more than 20 years as a marketing executive in Canada’s broadcast, technology and telecommunications sectors.
“This country has all the right ingredients for success – world-class talent, award-winning content and a mature industry ready to seize every opportunity,” Dickenson says. “I am both delighted and honoured to lead an organization whose ambition is to see bigger. I have a front-row seat where I can watch our cinematic talent flourish. It’s an incredible privilege and responsibility.”
Dickenson has joined Telefilm at a decisive time.
The national organization is restructuring to focus on exports and emerging talent, specifically women and Indigenous filmmakers.
“Feature films are being more widely watched on platforms and less in the cinemas, and companies are being required to have a more entrepreneurial approach to marketing their projects,” says Telefilm spokesperson Francesca Accinelli (BA ’92). “Ms. Dickenson’s expertise in digital content and related companies is a sign that the agency is moving forward.”
Barbara Evans, an associate professor in York University’s Department of Cinema & Media Arts, is confident Dickenson will successfully lead Telefilm through the changes. She recalls that Dickenson early on proved her mettle with Kuwait In Flames, an $8,000 documentary created for her two-year master’s thesis.
To make it, the then 22-year-old daughter of Canada’s former ambassador to the Persian Gulf travelled to Kuwait in the aftermath of the Gulf War, shooting and bringing back more than 18 hours of raw footage exploring the human toll of the Iraqi occupation.
Dickenson first screened the completed project at York’s Keele Campus in the spring of 1993 and soon after successfully secured global distribution, helping to advance the University’s global reputation for outstanding achievement.
“Christa produced bold and original work while a student at York,” Evans says. “It is exciting to see her now taking on such an important leadership role at Telefilm, which is bound to have a significant and dramatic impact on the Canadian film and media industry as a whole.”
After York, Dickenson served on several industry-related boards and councils, including the Canadian Interactive Alliance, Interactive Ontario and the Pacific Telecommunications Council. She remains an engaged member of the Institute of Corporate Directors and the Canadian Marketing Association Insights Council in addition to her Telefilm duties. ■
– Photography courtesy of Telefilm Canada