Mentorship, Friendship and Evolution

by Paulina Abarca-Cantin

Image Marginalia, by Pam Hall + Margaret Dragu

Image: Marginalia, © Pam Hall + Margaret Dragu

Carol Whiteman has been offering Canadian women mentorship and training workshops through Women in The Director’s Chair at The Banff Centre for an amazingly long time. It’s a model that many worldwide have tried to emulate because the results are formidable. Many of Canada’s top women filmmakers have completed wondrous projects through the program, others have undergone a thoroughly transformative experience.

Transformation…evolution…shedding one’s skin…the art of throwing out heaps of metaphoric old clothes from one’s closet to make room for the new... making art of one’s life and life from one’s art... trust... balancing motherhood and creative excellence…these are just the tip of the iceberg.

Mentorship is a profound catalyst for moving onwards when the chemistry is right.

I was excited (and nervous) to be chosen as aparticipant in Carol’s inaugural Career Advancement Module project at the St. John’s International Women’s Festival, along with participants Allison Beda and Deanne Foley. We were requested to bring our preferred “project in embryo” for the mentoring sessions with Anne-Marie Lapointe and Camelia Freiberg and we will continue to work with Carol on their evolution over the next six months.

Anne-Marie is CTV’s recently appointed Development Manager for Eastern Canada. Camelia Freiberg, one of Canada’ most accomplished feature film producers, recently blossomed into an accomplished director. Her directorial debut A Stone’s Throw, is profound, personal and a striking manifestation of her values. Web-savvy gals will also admire her production company’s beautiful site for this reason.

Both are Halifax-based, although Freiberg lives in a rural community where she combines her amazing artistic endeavours with organic farming and raising her children. (Those who can, SHOULD!)

Photo of St-John Workshop Session.

Photo: Alison Beda, Camelia Freiberg, Deanne Foley, Anne-Marie Lapointe and Carol Whiteman at our mentorship session... St. John's Int. Women's Festival. Photo: Paulina Abarca-Cantin


The fact that these two talented, generous women live here on the east coast is but one more reason to be so inspired by this land...and the formidable characters of the women we have met on the Pipeline Project.

I am acutely aware that I walk a path that people like Carol Whiteman, Camelia Freiberg, Colette Urban, Pam Hall, Margaret Dragu and Barb Hunt worked harder to tread than my generation has had to date. These visionaries broke and continue to break ground.

Mentorship is part trust and respect but it is above all, a time to be challenged. To be put to the test: to be pushed beyond your comfort zone, to articulate and defend values, and to question and (hopefully) passionately reclaim your artistic confidence. Or, to let go, evolve by moving on...

“If there is anywhere else you would rather be today, there is the door. Run, don’t walk out of this building and the destiny opening before you” the great Michael Mawson said to my class on our first day of school at the National Theatre School of Canada back in 1984. "The Artist’s Way is a winding path of highs and lows. Only the brave need apply”. No one left that beautiful room on St-Denis Street. I think back to that room often. Back to the late Michael Mawson.


Mentors inspire through their artistry, courage and continued practice. They become beacons of possibility when you are allowed to enter their personal worlds as well. Some projects require us to fight the currents, for others, the timing is so obvious that speed matters most.


Mon projet?
Le Festival d’art médiatique et de pratiques en réseau HTMlles…

Our mentorship session focused on trust. Essential to XX,to HTMlles and…life. Clarity of purpose and the will to communicate effectively, as individual responsibilities. And roads to freedom.

P