vancouver asian film festival vaff 2022

Audit led by Vancouver Asian Film Festival reveals Canada’s national broadcasters FAIL to represent Asian Canadians 

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From time to time we publish press releases for community organizations, we feel this one is important to educate people and move towards a more inclusive broadcasting sector across Canada and beyond.

May 31, 2022, VANCOUVER, BC – The Vancouver Asian Film Festival (VAFF), Racial Equity Screen Office (RESO), and Elimin8Hate today jointly released its Diversity On Screen Audit Report of Canadian Broadcasters 2022, which specifically reviews Asian representation on four national broadcasters – CBC, Citytv, CTV, Global TV–and one provincial broadcaster, Knowledge Network.  

As Asian Heritage Month’s celebration of Asian culture and contributions to Canada winds down, VAFF’s long-awaited Diversity on Screen Audit Report of Canadian Broadcasters is a reminder that dialogue on Asian representation should extend beyond one month of the year as there is still much work needed to achieve equity in funding, access, and opportunities for Asian Canadians as well as other marginalized creatives. 

VAFF’s on-screen audit revealed that the five broadcasters failed to provide significant opportunities for Asian Canadians to be represented on their networks during the audit period of April 11 to 17, 2021.  

For this report, Asians were identified as East Asian, Southeast Asian, and South Asian.

On-screen Asian Canadian representation among the five broadcasters varied according to the study with Asian representation of main cast roles highest on Global TV at 8.8 percent for all its scripted programs while Knowledge Network was lowest at 3.9 percent for all its scripted programs during the audit period.  For this study, Main Cast roles were defined as characters appearing in 50 percent or more of the episodes of a television program’s season. In terms of Canadian versus non-Canadian content, the audit revealed more than 50 percent of all content broadcasted during the audit period came from outside of Canada. CBC was the only broadcaster to have over 50 percent of its scripted and unscripted programs (87 percent and 83.3 per respectively) originating from Canada, however, Canadian Asian and BPOC actors were not significantly represented in these opportunities. The substantial influence and acquisition of television programming from the United States and the United Kingdom dramatically overshadowed the content created by Canadian filmmakers and producers.

“As the first Asian film festival in Canada, the Vancouver Asian Film Festival (VAFF) has been working to increase representation for Canadians of Asian descent in mainstream media for over 26 years. It has been heartbreaking to see how little opportunity exists for Asian Canadian actors and creators,” said Barbara Lee, Founder of VAFF, RESO, and Elimin8Hate. “This lack of on-screen representation also reflects the barriers faced by Asian Canadian writers, directors, producers, and broadcast executives to enter the Canadian broadcasting landscape.  This ongoing crisis of representation is an urgent call for the creation of a film fund—for us and administered by us—to empower us to authentically tell Canadian stories from the racialized diaspora,” states Barbara Lee, Founder of VAFF, RESO, and Elimin8Hate.

Opportunities for an actor of Asian heritage to be cast as a central character in a scripted television program broadcasted in Canada are extremely low. As such, aspiring actors of Asian descent face difficulties earning a living wage to sustain their careers or channel their creativity to hone their craft. 

The report outlines seven recommendations that require deliberate, targeted, and reparative actions to address the systemic and structural discrimination that exists among broadcasters contributing to the lack of diverse representation. 

To view the report – VAFF’s Diversity On Screen Audit Report of Canadian Broadcasters 2022

To download the report – VAFF’s Diversity On Screen Audit Report of Canadian Broadcasters 2022

About the Vancouver Asian Film Festival (VAFF)

VAFF is a showcase for the best of Asian Canadian cinema and content. It has a long history of offering capacity building, mentorship and professional development programs to its Asian Canadian community and other communities of color.  VAFF was founded on the core mandate to increase Asian Canadian representation in mainstream film, television, and media.

About the Racial Equity Screen Office (RESO)

RESO is a Vancouver-based national office that focuses on the distinct nature of the immigrant diaspora and the opportunities, realities, and stories that live within our communities and our lived experiences.  Its mandate is to elevate diverse stories told through our diasporic migrant lens, advocate for equitable funding for racialized Canadian content creators, and develop greater business opportunities and markets for content from racialized communities in and outside of Canada through export.

About Elimin8Hate (E8)

Elimin8Hate is the social advocacy arm of VAFF. Its mandate is to harness the power of the arts, film, and media industries to educate, empower, and eliminate racism against Asian Canadians.

For further information:  

Regina Leung – media@vaff.og 

Barbara Lee –

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