UBC professor and director awarded prestigious Spotlight award

UBC Associate Professor of film production and acclaimed director Rachel Talalay has been bestowed with the 2016 Spotlight award for "Woman of the Year" for her inspirational work producing, teaching and directing.

The Spotlight awards are specifically given to women for outstanding achievement in film and television and for creating opportunities for women within the world of film.

According to the Spotlight awards' website, “the jury noted 'Rachel Talalay is on fire, she’s tough, and she’s an activist. By the nature of doing the groundbreaking work that she does, she’s forging a path for women.'”

“I found out by e-mail,” said Talalay in an interview with The Ubyssey. “It can’t have possibly been real! [I thought] I must’ve won a trip to an exotic island.”

Talalay also highlighted the unique nature of the Spotlight award. 

“Unlike the Oscars, BAFTAs or Emmys, which spend up to a million dollars on a show to self-promote, this was an award where a graduate student of mine felt that I should be honoured,” she said. “The committee then felt that my body of work merited the award.”

UBC film production program alumna Mina Shum also received a Spotlight award entitled the "Finale Artistic Achievement Award" for her "outstanding and insightful films," according to the Women in Film team.

Talalay also spoke about her satisfaction with the fact that women in film are becoming more visible, especially female directors. 

“I’m particularly flattered [by this award] because Women in Film is an incredibly important organization in BC and they do a lot of lobbying work,” she said. “Most of the big films in the last many [years] have been directed by men. The statistics for women directors are abysmal. Only last year, women directed nine per cent of films put out. But now, steps are being taken to address this imbalance which has been a problem and that is exciting for me.”

Talalay, who has directed episodes of the legendary show Doctor Who, is currently working on the acclaimed TV series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

“It’s been a great experience,” said Talalay. “Benedict has just walked off a $200 million film, Dr. Strange, and the fact that him and Martin still love to return is a testament to how good of a series it is and I’m very happy and inspired to be a part of it.”

Talalay has been in London on a two-year sabbatical from teaching, where she is working on film work, but she will back in Vancouver for the Spotlight awards ceremony on June 20.