Black Screen Office plans nationwide consultation on underrepresented stories

TORONTO — The newly formed Black Screen Office says consultations begin this month on efforts to build a "best practices" guide for telling the stories of underrepresented communities.

The office says "Being Seen: A Directive for Authentic and Inclusive Content" will seek national input on the representation of "Black, people of colour, LGBTQ2+ and persons with disabilities" in film and television.

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The goal is to understand how underrepresented communities "want to be seen and represented and then provide a set of directives to the industry."

Interviews will be conducted through virtual focus groups and one-on-one conversations in English and French through September. Participants will be focused on industry representatives and members of the general public who belong to underrepresented communities.

The Black Screen Office was formed last year with a $100,000 pledge from Telefilm Canada, and support from the Bell Fund, as part of a plan to address systemic racism in Canada's film industry.

The office says the "Being Seen" consultation will offer directives to Canadian film and TV creators on ways to "work with culturally sensitive content, identify when a story is theirs to tell and create content that avoids stereotypes."

However, Indigenous communities will not be part of the consultation as they were involved in a separate process that launched in 2017.

Telefilm is also among the backers of the Indigenous Screen Office, which was established in 2017 to support the development, production and marketing of Indigenous programming.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 3, 2021.

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