ASHLEY HIRT, Head of Development is a champion of women in film and a Metis filmmaker whose credits include actor / writer / director / producer. She’s an alumna of the National Screen Institute’s New Voices Program and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (London, England). In addition to being a producer on all of Red Czarina’s projects, Ashley also directed and performed in Red Czarina’s sold out, gender-reversed, modern re-staging of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (2013). She co-produced Black Field (2009) – the gothic historical drama by Danishka Esterhazy, and was an Associate Producer of The Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards (2011) – a live national awards show, hosted by Lorne Cardinal. Ashley’s work as an actress ranges from theatre to cinema. Her most notable performances can be seen in NFB/eOne/Eagle Vision’s We Were Children (2012), Goon (2011), Aegri Somnia (2008) and Red Czarina’s short film Q&A (2014) which she also directed. She has also appeared in stage versions of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Ashley was nominated for the Winnipeg Arts Council’s RBC On The Rise Award in 2013.
REBECCA GIBSON, Head of Production, a graduate of the New York Film Academy, started her career as an actor in the theatre. Her big break was offered by Emmy Award winner Kim Todd who cast her in the YTV series The Adventures of Shirley Holmes. Other acting credits include her award-winning role in the film that launched The Murdoch Mysteries, and most recently lead roles in Juliana and the Medicine Fish opposite Adam Beach, and Lovesick with Jacob Tierney, Jessica Paré and Jay Baruchel. She also plays the lead in the comedy web series WindCity, currently in its second season, for which she is also a writer. An award-winning playwright, some of Rebecca’s writing credits for film and television include the award-winning series Tipi Tales, and the series Taken (CBC, APTN) on which Rebecca is also a director. Rebecca was a recent participant in the prestigious Women in the Director’s Chair program in preparation to direct her award-winning feature script Jane Garbage. Rebecca directed Red Czarina’s documentary series Child First, and their documentary Daphne Korol: The Drama Queen of Winnipeg for which Rebecca was nominated for a Windy Award for direction. Rebecca traveled across Western Canada to document residential school survivors as a director for the Legacy of Hope project. Also as a director, Rebecca’s film Sea Legs played the Gimli Film Festival and the NSI Online Film Festival. Rebecca was recently invited to participate in the elite, international eQuinoxe Writers’ Workshop in Europe with the feature film script Skinner.
Celebrated for her female-driven stories, director DANISHKA ESTERHAZY, Creative Director, has delighted audiences across Canada and around the world with her unforgettable films. Esterhazy is a graduate of the Canadian Film Centre and the National Screen Institute. Her debut feature, Black Field, won the Best Feature Drama award at Vancouver’s Women in Film Festival and the Best Canadian Feature award at Toronto’s Female Eye Film Festival. Danishka’s films have screened in festivals, theatres and galleries around the world including the Rome International Film Festival, the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival in South Korea, the Short Film Festival of India, La Maison Rouge in Paris, Kölner Filmhaus in Germany and the Reel Women International Film Festival in Hollywood. Her films have been broadcast on CBC, Bravo and Super Channel. Danishka is also a recipient of the prestigious Kodak New Vision Award for most promising female Canadian director – awarded by Women in Film and Television Toronto. Esterhazy was part of the pUNK Films Femmes Lab – a screenwriting initiative founded by Toronto filmmaker Ingrid Veninger and funded by Oscar-winning actress Melissa Leo. She is a current member of Film Fatales – a collective of female feature directors dedicated to breaking down gender barriers in the film industry. Danishka recently attended the Sundance Film Festival, deepening existing connections, and developing new ones. She is becoming known internationally as a female filmmaker to watch.
VALARIE THOMPSON, Producer, Red Czarina’s newest member, is, and has been for many years, a tireless philanthropist for causes including donation of the Thompson Allergy and Asthma Clinic at Children’s Hospital. She was Spokeswoman and Woman of the Year for the Manitoba Heart and Stroke Foundation, and a Keynote Speaker. Valarie works in an organizational capacity overseeing both the big and little picture. She is set to produce Red Czarina Entertainment Inc.’s upcoming digital Orange Daisy Project, and their feature film Jane Garbage. Under her leadership, Jane Garbage has been supported for development by Super Channel, and will go to camera in summer of 2016. Valarie is a strong advocate of the anti-bullying and mental health movements, and is a staunch supporter of empowerment for young women. As the mother of two daughters and a son, Valarie has raised her children to be empowered to explore themselves and who they want to be. Her daughter Sara is an actress who has lived in New York and Los Angeles, her daughter Amanda lives in New York and has worked for Martha Stewart and is now an entrepreneur who runs her own aesthetic consulting firm, and her son David is a student at the Asper School of Business. As the Family Officer of the Winnipeg chapter of Young President’s Organization, Val has produced world class events, and encourages the leadership and development of young business leaders. Her productions have included work at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, including work by top choreographer Lindsay Nelko, of So You Think You Can Dance.