Montreal animator Diane Obomsawin among Canadian women invited to join academy

The academy behind the Oscars has for the first time reached gender parity in its list of new members, including several Canadian women.

Montreal animator Diane Obomsawin says she was shocked to find out she was among the 842 members invited to The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Monday.

Obomsawin, who is of Abenaki descent and often goes by the pseudonym Obom, said she plans to cast her Oscars ballot in support of independent animators around the world.

While she’s pleased to see the academy making an effort to welcome more diversity, she said Hollywood still has a long way to go in ensuring women in the film industry receive equal pay for their art.

“I won’t say it’s total victory for women, but it’s a little thing that was better than before,” said Obomsawin, the filmmaker behind “I Like Girls,” which was nominated for best animated short at the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards.

The academy says of the new invitees, who hail from 59 countries, half are female and 29 per cent are people of colour.

The Canadian directors tapped include Nisha Ganatra, the Vancouver-bred director of “Late Night ” Ottawa-born Alison Maclean, who directed 1999’s “Jesus’ Son” and Frances-Anne Solomon, who lives between Toronto and Barbados and directed last year’s “Hero: Inspired by the Extraordinary Life and Times of Mr. Ulric Cross.”

Toronto-based film producer Lisa Valencia-Svensson was invited to join the academy’s documentary branch.

Los Angeles-based costume designer Antoinette Messam, whose credits include “Creed” and “Superfly,” tweeted she would be representing “.thesix” in the academy as congratulations poured in from Toronto.

Several Canadians whose short films were honoured at the 2019 Oscars were also on the list, including two Montreal finalists — Jeremy Comte who directed “Fauve,” and Marianne Farley was nominated for directing “Marguerite.”

Toronto-bred animator Domee Shi has also been invited to join the body that awarded her a trophy for best animated short for “Bao” in February, alongside Hamilton-born Trevor Jimenez, whose film “Weekends” was also nominated in the category.

If most accept their invites, the film academy will number more than 9,000 members.

Other Canadians invited include:

– Toronto-based casting director Robin Cook, who worked on 2018 best picture winner “The Shape of Water”

– Catherine Winder, the CEO and partner of Skybound North Entertainment, whose credits include “The Angry Birds Movie” and “Escape from Planet Earth”

– Montreal-born artist Steven Woloshen known for creating short abstract animation projects including “Casino” and “Snip”

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