Director Katia Café-Fébrissy On Diversity & Inclusion In The Film Industry

DGC Ontario Director Katia Café-Fébrissy is a Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist and award-winning Director, Screenwriter, Playwright and Stage Director who tells stories in both English and French. Katia’s latest accomplishments include being awarded a Doc Accelerator Lab Fellowship at HotDocs 2021 and a Playwright Residency at the National Arts Centre. 

We spoke to Katia from this year’s Doc Toolbox Program at the Berlinale Film Festival about her career in film and theatre, her extensive involvement with various initiatives at DGC Ontario, including her role as a Directors Caucus Rep on our Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and how she has translated her past experience as an International Human Resources Management Consultant into a game-changing D&I course for DGC Members.

You have extensive experience as an International Human Resources Management Consultant and lead the DGC Ontario course “Diversity and Inclusion: Beyond the Single Story.” Tell us about this course and what inspired you to create it.

Before embracing my filmmaking career, I used to work in behavioural change at the senior level with homogeneous executives and leaders, for whom diversity did not mean anything. This led me to create a diversity model that focused on the self rather than the other. After that, they got it!

Storytelling is about perception, which is the interpretation of one’s reality. That is where the shift towards greater inclusivity should start—within oneself, as ultimately, that allows one to relate to others more authentically. To me, that is the essence of filmmaking.

With this course I adapted specifically for the DGC Membership, I propose another perspective on what diversity can mean for creators of entertainment: a humanistic approach to exploring the fundamental dynamics of mindful and holistic interactions. The workshop offers a safe learning space for introspection where participants are encouraged to reflect on their paradigms and explore the layers of their own diversity.

You’re one of the Directors Caucus Representatives on DGC Ontario’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Tell us what it means to you to be involved in this committee and why you feel it’s essential to be on the ground level regarding issues of diversity in film and television?

What I love about this committee is that I have the opportunity to share ideas and strategize with other equally dedicated DGC Members from other Caucuses on the very important issues of diversity, inclusion and equality. We have the common goal of influencing decisions that could lead to sustainable change in our Guild and have positive ripple effects in our industry. I find it rewarding to contribute efforts for the greater good.

You recently directed a segment of 21 Black Futures, a series that explores the future of Blackness as envisioned in filmed monodramas from 21 Black playwrights, directed by 21 Black Directors, and performed by 21 Black actors. Tell us about your segment and how you became involved with this production.

I directed Chronologie, the sole French monodrama of the ensemble. Because this production happened in the midst of the pandemic, all pre-production meetings with key creatives, table reads and rehearsals took place on zoom. It was definitely a learning curve to direct a performance online and to discover the set merely a few hours before the shoot.

Chronologie directed by Katia Café-Fébrissy, from the 21 Black Futures anthology series on CBC Gem.

You’re one of the co-hosts of DGC National’s Podcast. Tell us about your involvement in that project.

I started co-hosting the DGC Podcast with Vancouver-based director Aubrey Arnason in March 2021. I find it so inspiring to learn more about the directorial creative processes of the top directors in the country. I take away so many nuggets that I get to implement in my own work.

Imagine it’s 2032. What does your career look like?

In 2032, I will be doing more of what I am already doing now, working as a documentary filmmaker, theatre director and playwright. I will also continue to be a versatile storyteller, creating both in English and French. By then, I will have also released my two feature documentaries, made my narrative directorial debut, written and directed my next long-form play and started directing MOWs and TV episodic shows.

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DGC Ontario 1st Assistant Art Director Kim Sison is a Toronto-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator. She specializes in designing prop and set graphics for film and television and has brought her artistic talents to such productions as The Expanse, Shadowhunters, Awake, Impulse, and the upcoming Beacon 23.

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