media release

VQFF explores women in film with Sundance directors

August 13, 2014

Averyl Bancroft, SFU Public Square, 778.782.9850,
Katelyn McDougall, SFU Public Square, 778 782 9849,
Shana Myara, Vancouver Queer Film Festival, 604.844.1615,

Acclaimed directors Desiree AkhavanSydney Freeland, and Carolyn Combs will join Simon Fraser University associate professor Helen Hok-Sze Leung on August 18, for a panel discussion that will explore the emergence of women in the film industry.

New Frontiers in Film: The Gender Equality Revolution, presented by SFU Public Square and the Vancouver Queer Film Festival (VQFF), takes place at a time when over 50 per cent of VQFF’s 2014 lineup features programs helmed by women. That number is particularly notable as currently only six per cent of directors in Hollywood are women.

Both Akhavan and Freeland each had works premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, while Combs is the executive director of Women in Film and Television Vancouver.

Akhavan, an Iranian-American filmmaker is the writer/director/star of Appropriate Behavior, and the co-creator and star of the critically acclaimed we series The Slope. Named one ofFilmmaker Magazine’s “25 new Faces of Independent Film,” Akhavan will appear on the next season of HBO’s Girls.

Freeland, a New Mexico native, is the Navajo writer/director of Drunktown’s Finest. In 2009, she received a Sundance Institute Native Lab fellow, and received a Fulbright scholarship in 2004 for a field study of Indigenous peoples in Ecuador.

Combs is a graduate of the Canadian Film Centre’s Director Residency Program, and directed and co-wrote Looking South. Leung is an associate professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at SFU, has published widely on queer cinema and is the co-founder and co-editor of the Queer Asia book series (Hong Kong UP).

The panel discussion takes place on Monday, August 18, at noon, at SFU’s Vancouver Campus (Harbour Centre Room 7000). The event is free, however online registration is required.

Simon Fraser University is consistently ranked among Canada's top comprehensive universities and is one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 125,000 alumni in 130 countries.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

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