Heather Neale and Vonnie Von Helmolt Take Home Major SWIFT 2023 Honours

Two of Manitoba’s long-serving film community members, Heather Neale and Vonnie Von Helmolt, both recently received honours at Canada’s Supporting Women in Film Trades (SWIFT) Conference on November 25 and 26, 2023.

Neale, a nationally renowned costume designer, was the recipient of the SWIFT award which was created by Film Training Manitoba (FTM)’s Board of Directors to recognize long-serving leaders in Manitoba’s film community that champion the spirit of FTM’s SWIFT.

The previous SWIFT award winner and film industry veteran Ellen Rutter was the presenter of the honour and said, This year’s recipient (Neale) has decades of experience supporting and mentoring women and other underrepresented workers. Heather Neale is not only a highly accomplished costume designer with an exceptional body of work but also a model of professionalism and grace.”

Emmy award-winning producer Vonnie Von Helmolt was also selected to be the first honorary SWIFT committee member. This honour was to recognize her role in being the founding chair of FTM and her years of service to the film industry in Canada.  

“We are very fortunate today to have the founding chairperson Vonnie Von Helmolt with us. Over ten thousand individuals have taken FTM programs, and we now have the capacity to carry out Canada’s Supporting Women in Film Trades (SWIFT) Conference, which is the first and only women’s conference for women film workers in Canada. And that is because of Vonnie. None of this would exist without you.” Said FTM’s Executive Director Adam Smoluk.

SWIFT’s committee designed a special one-of-a-kind coat with Von Helmolt’s name embordered on it.

Both Neale and Von Helmolt shared their thanks and remarked on the growth and development of Manitoba and Canada’s film industry during their years working within the film industry.