10 To Watch: Ravida Din

Ravida Din

Age: 45
Residence: Montreal
Representation: NFB employee
Buzz: Though a long-time employee of the National Film Board, Din has been delving more into the production side of the film world recently, with two major projects already under her belt.

Little did Ravida Din know that her quest for social change would lead her to the National Film Board.

After almost two decades at the NFB, she’s only recently begun her foray into the production side of the film world, after being appointed executive producer three years ago. Already, notable credits include 2007’s Up the Yangtze from EyeSteel Film and last year’s Reel Injun, directed by Neil Diamond.

She had her producer’s hat on almost immediately when she stepped into this most recent position, and right away, she began working on Pink Inc (working title) after being inspired by a feminist critique about breast cancer treatments and philanthropy.

“If we’ve raised billions of dollars, why are we not seeing any improvement?” she asks. “Why is everything around treatment and nothing around prevention? I basically pitched the idea to my boss and he was very supportive.”

Just a year ago, she was equally inspired after reading Margaret Atwood’s 2008 book Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth on the nature of debt. “That moved really quickly,” recalls Din. “I had contacted Atwood, and she wrote back right away. We had six months of negotiations with her agent, then Jennifer Baichwal (Manufactured Landscapes, Act of God) was approached to direct and she was immediately interested. The momentum surprised me, but it has felt right every step of the way.”

As someone who always thought her life’s work would center on helping others, Din’s eyes were opened when she happened to fall into a gig at the NFB in Ottawa via a mat leave contract. “I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to show documentary films to women’s organizations,” she recalls. “Finding interesting ways to connect to social change organizations, educators and using documentary films as a tool for social change. That had always been my work. And to actually be doing it in the context of films funded by a public producer and working within the communities was pretty amazing.”

That six-month mat leave led to the next 17 years at the NFB, making her way through a number of positions in marketing and working with Tom Perlmutter as the assistant director general for English programs for four years before eventually heading into the production realm.

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