Breaking Through Barriers to Gender Equity in Canadian Film

A New Approach to Social Justice

We mobilized humanities research and creative problem solving (CPS) to facilitate the development of a new, three-year strategic plan for Breakthroughs Film Festival.

Community Partner

Breakthroughs Film Festival is a not-for-profit that showcases the work of emerging women identifying filmmakers. Their annual festival helps talented artists breakthrough to national and international audiences.

They also support the professional development of emerging filmmakers through their award, grant, networking, and educational programs. Since their first festival in 2012, BFF has established itself as a pipeline for new, global talent.



We applied a new approach to strategic planning that synthesizes tried-and-true humanities research with creative problem solving (CPS) methodologies.



Study existing research to identify barriers to gender equity in Canadian film.



Consult with key stakeholders to establish BFF’s strengths, values, and aspirations.



Apply CPS to facilitate a new vision for BFF that builds upon past successes and better serves emerging filmmakers.


Laura Chute

CPS Facilitator

Rosie Daniels

CPS Facilitator

Aisling Flynn-Post

CPS Facilitator

Letter of Impact

1 November 2019

RE: Breaking Through Barriers to Gender Equity in Canadian Film

Breakthroughs Film Festival (BFF) is delighted to advocate for the expertise of the Creative Humanities at Sheridan College and the impact they brought to our not-for-profit. In October 2018, BFF embarked on their first Strategic Planning session with the help of three undergraduate researchers—Laura Chute, Rosie Daniels, and Aisling Flynn-Post—and Dr. Brandon McFarlane, Professor of Creativity & Creative Thinking. We highly recommend the Creative Humanities team to any organization looking to renew their existing strategic plan or work on an entirely new one.

After conducting a survey with the BFF team, students applied creative problem solving to help BFF articulate the organization’s direction and priorities. Over the course of one afternoon, board members broke down the various areas of work that BFF engages with: the festival, year-round programming, marketing & outreach, and fundraising. The team assessed the resources and labour required for each area of work, and discussed ideas for making processes more efficient and effective. The session culminated in a thorough overview of the organization’s activities and the strategic prioritization of directions. The goals and objectives agreed upon at the end of the session were:

• Continue Delivering & Improving an Awesome Festival
• Apply the Practices of Intersectional Feminism
• Enhance Organizational Capacity & Sustainability
• Build a Network of Likeminded Activists
• Expand Professional Development Programming

After a year, we can say the benefit and value of the strategic planning sessions has been far-reaching in the organization and the implementation of these objectives has helped BFF move forward in a positive and sustainable direction. We wouldn’t hesitate to collaborate with the Creative Humanities again, and encourage any arts leader to learn more about the impact their expertise in creative problem solving and creative leadership can bring to your organization.


Board of Directors
Breakthroughs Film Festival