Canadian Screen Awards
|Canadian Screen Awards|
|Awarded for||Best television, film, and digital media productions in Canada|
|Presented by||Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television|
|Website||Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television|
The Canadian Screen Awards (French: Les prix Écrans canadiens) are awards given for artistic and technical merit in the film industry recognizing excellence in Canadian film, English-language television, and digital media (web series) productions. Given annually by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, the awards recognize excellence in cinematic achievements, as assessed by the Academy's voting membership.
The awards were first presented in 2013 as the result of a merger of the Gemini Awards and Genie Awards—the Academy's previous awards presentations for television (English-language) and film productions. They are widely considered to be the most prestigious award for Canadian entertainers, artists, and filmmakers, often referred to as the equivalent of the Academy Awards and Emmy Awards in the United States, the BAFTA Awards in the United Kingdom, the César Awards in France, and the Goya Awards in Spain.
Canadian television and film critics and others have suggested potential nicknames, including the straightforward abbreviation "Screenies"; tributes to film and television legends including "Candys" in memory of actor John Candy, "Pickfords" in honor of actress Mary Pickford, and "Normans" in honor of director Norman Jewison; "Angels" as a descriptive reference to the trophy's "wings"; and "Gemininies" as a portmanteau of the awards' former names.
The Academy invited suggestions from viewers via social media, with CEO Helga Stephenson suggesting that the board would consider the suggestions and potentially announce a naming choice in time for the 2014 ceremony. No formal nickname was announced at the time; numerous media outlets settled on the informal "Screenies."
At the 4th Canadian Screen Awards in 2016, host Norm Macdonald called in his opening monologue for the awards to be named the Candys; several presenters and winners followed his lead throughout the evening, referring to the award as "The Candy" in their presentation announcements or acceptance speeches, and John Candy's former SCTV colleagues Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara both endorsed Macdonald's proposal in the press room. Macdonald had not sought input from the Academy itself prior to his monologue, although he ran the idea past the ceremony's broadcast producer Barry Avrich.
The awards' historic roots stem from the Canadian Film Awards (CFAs), which were presented for film from 1949 to 1978, and the ACTRA Awards, which were presented for television from 1972 to 1986. The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television was established in 1979 with the mission "to inspire creativity, develop talent and celebrate the best in Canadian visual storytelling. Its mandate is governed by the principles of Integrity, Diversity, Excellence and Authenticity."
The Academy initially took over the CFAs to create the new Genie Awards, and then took over the ACTRAs in 1986 to create the Gemini Awards. The Academy additionally created the Bijou Awards in 1981 as a new home for CFA specialty categories, such as television films, that had not been retained by the Genie Awards, but presented them only once before discontinuing that program.
The Canadian Screen Awards were first presented in 2013 as the result of a merger of the Gemini Awards and Genie Awards—the Academy's previous awards presentations for television (English-language) and film productions respectively.
Canadian Film Awards
The Canadian Film Awards were established in 1949 by the Canadian Association for Adult Education, under a steering committee that included the National Film Board's James Beveridge, the Canadian Foundation's Walter Herbert, filmmaker F. R. Crawley, the National Gallery of Canada's Donald Buchanan, and diplomat Graham McInnes.
The first presentation was held on April 27, 1949 at the Little Elgin Theatre in Ottawa. The initial jury consisted of Hye Bossin, managing editor of Canadian Film Weekly; M. Stein of Famous Players; CBC film critic Gerald Pratley; Moira Armour of the Toronto and Vancouver Film societies; and Ian MacNeill from CAAE. The Canadian Foundation and the Canadian Film Institute were also brought in as sponsors of the awards. With only a handful of Canadian films released each year, they were generally a small affair.
In 1957, The Globe and Mail columnist Ronald Johnson criticized the awards' publicity efforts, noting that even Bossin was not actually receiving the press releases and that many of the releases which were going out were being sent to journalists not involved in covering or reporting on film. The paper's film critic Jay Scott later described them as "honours given by presenters no one knew, to recipients no one recognized, to films no one had seen."
With very few feature films made in Canada at all prior to the 1960s, in some years no Film of the Year winner was named at all, with the awards for Best Short Film or Best Amateur Film instead constituting the highest honor given to a film that year. Even the award for Film of the Year, when presented at all, often also went to a short film. The awards were also almost totally dominated by the National Film Board, to the point that independent filmmakers sometimes alleged a systemic bias which was itself a contributing factor to the difficulty of building a sustainable commercial film industry in Canada. Particularly in the 1960s, television films were also eligible for the awards; in 1969, in fact, no theatrical films were entered into the awards at all, and the nominees and winners at the 21st Canadian Film Awards consisted almost entirely of television films.
A separate award for Best Feature Film was instituted in 1964.
In 1968, the consortium of organizations that presented the awards up to that point discontinued their involvement, and the awards were reorganized into their own independent organization with their own board of directors. A new bronze award statuette was designed by sculptor Sorel Etrog, and thereafter the award was often referred to as an Etrog, although the name of the ceremony itself remained the Canadian Film Awards. Two special awards, the John Grierson Award for outstanding contribution to Canadian cinema and the Wendy Michener Award for outstanding artistic achievement, were also added in later years.
Acting awards were introduced in 1968, and then expanded into separate categories for lead and supporting performers in 1970. Despite the creation of the ACTRA Awards in 1972, the Canadian Film Awards continued to present selected "non-feature" awards, inclusive of television films, until the 1st Genie Awards in 1980.
In the 1970s, the organization frequently faced crises related to the francophone film industry in Quebec. This began in 1970, when filmmaker Jean Pierre Lefebvre threatened to withdraw his film Q-Bec My Love from the competition if the Ontario Censor Board did not withdraw its demand for the film to be edited. Several other filmmakers were also prepared to withdraw in solidarity, although provincial cabinet minister James Auld intervened to dissuade the board from insisting on the cuts.
In 1973, a number of Quebec filmmakers boycotted the 25th Canadian Film Awards, out of a perception that the organization had a systemic bias against francophone films. This protest resulted in the last-minute cancellation of the 1973 awards ceremony, with the winners announced only at a press conference, and the complete cancellation of the 1974 awards. When the awards returned in 1975, the eligibility period covered the entire two-year period since the previous ceremony in 1973; however, the awards committee revived the defunct Film of the Year category alongside the ongoing Best Feature Film award, so that two Best Pictures, one for each of 1974 and 1975, could be named. The 1973 awards were also criticized for the jury's choice of Slipstream as Best Feature Film over a field of four other much stronger nominees, with some writers later declaring that the film's victory, over enduring Canadian film classics such as Kamouraska and Réjeanne Padovani, essentially confirmed that the boycotting directors were correct in their beliefs.
In the final years of the Canadian Film Awards, the dedicated festival was discontinued, and instead the eligible films were screened as part of the Festival of Festivals lineup after that event was launched in 1976, with the ceremony taking place at the end of the festival.
When Academy publicist Maria Topalovich was preparing a history of the awards for publication in the early 1980s, she found that even the Academy itself had not received complete documentation of the awards' past winners and nominees in the takeover, and instead she had to undertake extensive archival research.
The were first presented in 1972 to celebrate excellence in Canada's television and radio industries. The Awards were established by ACTRA members Lorraine Thomson and Bruno Gerussi to honor and promote Canadian writers, broadcast journalists, and performers. Designed by sculptor Bill McElcheran, the original statuette was nicknamed “Nellie” by ACTRA staff member Elizabeth Malone because “she is not Barbara Hamilton or Juliette!”
ACTRA began presenting the John Drainie Award for distinguished lifetime contribution in broadcasting in 1968, before launching a comprehensive program for television and radio awards in 1972. The 1st ACTRA Awards that year only presented the Drainie Award alongside the new Earle Grey Award for actors and Gordon Sinclair Award for broadcast journalism, with its roster of categories beginning to expand the following year.
By 1978, there began to be talk in the industry of a "Nellie curse," as several broadcast personalities in the past couple of years had been fired or had their shows cancelled very soon after winning an ACTRA award. The same year also saw the first widespread complaints about ACTRA's nomination criteria, which limited honors in most categories to ACTRA members; even if ACTRA members had collaborated with non-ACTRA members, then only the ACTRA member could be considered for nomination.
By 1980, the CTV network decided to boycott the awards, on the grounds that the members-only rule biased the awards in favor of CBC Television productions; the issue arose because the CBC produced most of its programming directly, and thus nearly all CBC programming involved ACTRA members, while CTV broadcast far more programming from independent non-ACTRA producers. The boycott, which continued for several years thereafter, sparked discussions through the early 1980s about how to improve the management and delivery of Canadian television awards.
In this era, there was also significant concern about the fact that ACTRA only presented awards in categories such as acting, writing, and journalism, but had no categories for television crafts such as cinematography or editing, as well as a controversy when ACTRA rejected the CBC's proposal of Dan Aykroyd as host, on the grounds that he was working in the United States and not an active ACTRA member.
By 1983, the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television's experimental Bijou Awards, which had been presented for the first time in 1981, were being proposed to replace the ACTRA Awards, but this did not proceed at this time. Ultimately, responsibility for presenting the Canadian television awards was transferred to the Academy's new Gemini Awards in 1986.
Awards transferred to the Academy included the John Drainie Award, a lifetime achievement award for distinguished contributions to Canadian broadcasting, and the Earle Grey Award, which transitioned from ACTRA's award for best performance in a television film into the Academy's lifetime achievement award for acting.
The Genie Awards succeeded the Canadian Film Awards, and were given out annually by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television to recognize the best of Canadian cinema from 1980–2012. At first, the Genie Awards continued to be known as the "Etrog Awards," for sculptor Sorel Etrog, who designed the statuette that had been presented to winners since 1968. It was subsequently renamed the "Genie," to symbolize “the magic of filmmaking and the hidden genie seeking expression in all creative people.”
Genie Award candidates were selected from submissions made by the owners of Canadian films or their representatives, based on the criteria laid out in the Genie Rules and Regulations booklet which was distributed to Academy members and industry members. Peer-group juries, assembled from volunteer members of the Academy, met to screen the submissions and select a group of nominees. Academy members then voted on these nominations.
In 2012, the Academy announced that the Genies would merge with its sister presentation for English-language television, the Gemini Awards, to form a new award presentation known as the Canadian Screen Awards.
The Gemini Awards were first held in 1986 to replace the ACTRA Award. The awards, analogous to the Emmy Awards given in the United States and the BAFTA Television Awards in the United Kingdom, were given by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television between 1986–2011 to recognize the achievements of Canada's English-language television industry. The ceremony celebrated Canadian television productions with awards in 87 categories, along with other special awards such as lifetime achievement awards.
The awards' name was an allusion to Castor and Pollux, a mythological pair of twins; this was in reference to Canada's linguistic duality of English and French, with the Academy's separate awards presentation for French-language television production named the Gémeaux Awards. The statuette, designed by Toronto artist Scott Thornley, evoked twins through a design that essentially created two faces at the front and back of the statuette.
In April 2012, the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television announced that the Gemini Awards and the Genie Awards would be discontinued and replaced by a new award ceremony dedicated to all forms of Canadian media, including television, film, and digital media, dubbed the "Canadian Screen Awards."
Canadian Screen Awards
In April 2012, the Academy announced that it would merge the Geminis and the Genies into a new awards show that would better recognize Canadian accomplishments in film, television, and digital media. On September 4, 2012, the Academy announced that the new ceremony would be known as the Canadian Screen Awards, reflecting the multi-platform nature of the presentation's expanded scope and how Canadians consume media content. The inaugural ceremony, hosted by comedian Martin Short and broadcast by CBC Television, took place on March 3, 2013.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Screen Awards did not hold an in-person presentation between 2020 and 2022. All ceremonies were held as virtual events beginning with the 8th Canadian Screen Awards, with the non-televised galas replaced by streaming presentations during Canadian Screen Week, with no television broadcast. The 10th Canadian Screen Awards were originally scheduled to be held at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, but due to Omicron variant and restrictions being re-implemented in the province of Ontario, the presentation was once again held as a virtual event. A television presentation returned, with winners in top categories announced during an hour-long, pre-recorded special on CBC Television hosted by the cast of TallBoyz. While in-person presentations were reinstated for 2023, the broadcast on CBC Television remained a pre-recorded special featuring highlights from the non-televised galas, linked by host Samantha Bee, rather than a live event.
In August 2022, the Academy announced that it would discontinue its past practice of presenting gendered awards for film and television actors and actresses. Beginning with the 11th Canadian Screen Awards in 2023, gender-neutral awards would be awarded for Best Performance, with eight nominees per category instead of five. In 2023, the Academy announced further changes for the 12th Canadian Screen Awards, instituting a new genre separation for best leading and supporting performances in drama and comedy films, and introducing a new category for best performance in a live action short film. No change was introduced in television acting categories, which already feature a genre separation for drama and comedy.
Today the Canadian Screen Awards are widely considered to be the most prestigious award for Canadian entertainers, artists, and filmmakers, often referred to as the equivalent of the Academy Awards and Emmy Awards in the United States, the BAFTA Awards in the United Kingdom, the AACTA Awards in Australia, the IFTA Awards in Ireland, the César Awards in France, and the Goya Awards in Spain.
To be eligible for nominations, a title must be either a Canadian production or co-production; international film or television projects shot in Canada without direct Canadian production involvement are not eligible. Canadians cannot receive nominations for working on foreign productions that were not otherwise eligible for CSA consideration, but foreign nationals may be nominated for work on eligible Canadian films.
A feature film must have received at least one full week of commercial theatrical screenings in at least two of the Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, Saskatoon, St. John's, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, and/or Winnipeg markets between January 1 of the qualifying year and the date of the awards ceremony in the presentation year. Alternatively, it can be released on at least one approved Qualifying Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) platform. A film may be submitted and even nominated before it has fully met these criteria, so long as it can provide satisfactory proof that the criteria will be fulfilled by the date of the ceremony.
Film festival screenings are not directly relevant to the inclusion criteria for feature films; as long as it meets the commercial screening criteria, a film may in fact have had its initial film festival premiere up to 1.5 years earlier than January 1 of the qualifying year. Although due to the more periodic nature of Canadian film distribution it may be possible for a film to meet the qualifying criteria in more than one separate year, a film may not be resubmitted to the awards committee more than once.
Under certain circumstances, it may also be possible for a film to be nominated in both film and television categories. For example, the 2020 documentary film One of Ours was a nominee for Best Feature Length Documentary at the 10th Canadian Screen Awards in 2022 due to its theatrical run; however, as the Academy does not present awards for best direction or best writing in theatrical documentary films, but does present awards for best direction and writing in television documentaries, its television broadcast later in the year earned Yasmine Mathurin nominations in the television categories at the same ceremony. However, a film cannot be considered in both film and television categories that directly duplicate each other; for instance, a film cannot be considered for both Best Picture and Best TV Movie.
Feature documentaries are eligible if they have received three commercial theatrical screenings anywhere in Canada within the same time period as narrative features, or if they have screened at two qualifying film festivals within the calendar year. Animated short films are eligible if they have received one commercial theatrical screening anywhere in Canada, or have been screened at two qualifying festivals, within the calendar year; live action short films are eligible if they have received one commercial theatrical screening anywhere in Canada, or have been screened at three qualifying festivals, within the calendar year. Documentary and short films are also automatically deemed eligible for nomination if they have won an award at an eligible Canadian or international film festival within the qualifying period, even if they have not fully met the Canadian screening criteria.
For television categories, the qualifying period corresponds more closely to the traditional television season than the calendar year, beginning September 1 of the second year before the ceremony and ending, depending on the category, either August 31 or November 15 of the year before the ceremony. An ongoing television series whose season straddles the cutoff date for its category is still eligible if it has aired at least one-third of its episodes within the eligibility period.
The awards given for artistic and technical merit in the film industry recognizing excellence in cinematic achievements—in Canadian film, English-language television, and digital media (web series) productions.
The Canadian Screen Awards has roughly 130 categories in total. There are 24 film categories, 100 television categories, and 10 digital media categories. As with the Genie Awards, all Canadian films, regardless of language, are eligible to receive awards in the film categories. However, as with the Gemini Awards, only English-language productions are eligible for television categories: the Academy continues to hold the Prix Gémeaux, a separate ceremony honoring French-language television productions.
There are also a number of special awards which are not necessarily given each year. For example, the Academy Achievement Award is an award presented by the Canadian Gemini Awards to an individual for their "exceptional, outstanding or ongoing contribution or service to the Canadian television industry." The Golden Screen Award, formerly known as the Golden Reel Award, is presented to the producer(s) of the Canadian film with the biggest box office gross of the year. The Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association introduced this award in 1976 as part of the Canadian Film Awards until 1979; it became part of the Genie Awards ceremonies in 1980, and is currently part of the Canadian Screen Awards. It was renamed from Golden Reel to Golden Screen as of the 3rd Canadian Screen Awards in 2015.
Revival of the ACTRA Awards
Beginning in 2002, ACTRA took management of the John Drainie Award back from the Academy, presenting it thereafter at the Banff Television Festival. ACTRA continued to give the award honoring those who made a distinguished contribution to broadcasting until 2016, when the final three awards were presented at a ceremony in Toronto.
On the 60th anniversary of the national union in 2003, now renamed the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists and representing only performers, the ACTRA Awards were resurrected in several of its branches across Canada as a local film and television award, presented by the organization's local chapters in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Maritimes to honor achievements in film and television within their own regions. Depending on the level of production activity in their respective regions, some chapters of ACTRA present their awards annually, while others present their awards every two years. A new, classically inspired bronze trophy of a lightly draped woman extending her arm was designed by sculptor Adrienne Alison and introduced in 2003 replacing the "Nellie" statuette.
The revived ACTRA Awards program also includes a national Award of Excellence, presented to an actor to honor their lifetime achievements. The national award of excellence may be presented to an actor who is working in Hollywood, and would thus not be eligible for a regional chapter's local award of excellence. The national award of excellence is not necessarily presented every year.
- Jackson Weaver, "The National, The Accountant of Auschwitz lead first night of Canadian Screen Awards" CBC News (May 25, 2020). Retrieved October 22, 2023.
- W. Andrew Powell, "Goodbye Genies and Geminis, hello Canadian Screen Awards". The Gate (March 2, 2013). Retrieved October 22, 2023.
- Peter Howell, "Canadian Screen Awards nickname the ‘Candys’ gains traction" Toronto Star (March 4, 2013). Retrieved October 22, 2023.
- Peter Howell, "Chair of Canadian film/TV academy is sweet on calling awards ‘the Candys’" Toronto Star (March 14, 2016). Retrieved October 22, 2023.
- Norman Wilner, "The Screenies Are Upon Us!" Now (January 13, 2015). Retrieved October 22, 2023.
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- Ronald Johnson, "Moving with the movies," The Globe and Mail (June 17, 1957).
- Jay Scott, "Coffee-table Genie-alogy took some reel sleuthing," The Globe and Mail (March 21, 1985).
- No Theatre Films Up for Awards The Ottowa Journal (September 24, 1969). Retrieved October 25, 2023.
- "Canadian Film Awards copes with string of crises," The Globe and Mail (September 28, 1970).
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- Andrew McIntosh, and Paul Townend, Genie Awards The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 17, 2023.
- Canadian Screen Awards to replace Genies, Geminis CBC News (September 6, 2023). Retrieved October 25, 2023.
- "Nellie award is reborn under the sign of Gemini," The Globe and Mail (April 22, 1986).
- Sid Adilman, "Canada's new TV award makes debut," Toronto Star (April 22, 1986).
- Canada's Genie, Gemini Awards to merge CBC News (May 1, 2012). Retrieved October 25, 2023.
- Jeremy Kay, Canadian Academy unveils Canadian Screen Awards ScreenDaily (September 4, 2012). Retrieved October 25, 2023.
- Peter Howell, Martin Short makes Canadian Screen Awards a night to remember Toronto Star (March 4, 2023). Retrieved October 25, 2023.
- Etan Vlessing, Canadian Screen Awards Canceled Amid Coronavirus Pandemic The Hollywood Reporter (March 12, 2020). Retrieved October 26, 2023.
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- "Actors questioning Canadian Screen Awards move to pre-taped format" CBC News (February 21, 2023). Retrieved October 26, 2023.
- Joseph Pugh, "Canadian Screen Awards switching to gender-neutral performance categories" CBC News (August 25, 2022). Retrieved October 26, 2023.
- William Shatner, Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large (Dutton Adult, 2011, ISBN 978-0525952510).
- Rules and Regulations - Film Canadian Screen Awards 2024. Retrieved October 26, 2023.
- Brent Furdyk, "2022 Canadian Screen Award Nominees Announced, ‘Sort Of’ & ‘Scarborough’ Lead The Pack" ET Canada (February 15, 2022). Retrieved October 26, 2023.
- "L'Académie canadienne du cinéma et de la télévision" Info-Culture (September 4, 2012). Retrieved October 26, 2023.
- Academy Achievement Award Gemini Awards. Retrieved October 17, 2023.
- Paul Townend, Golden Screen Awards The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 17, 2023.
- ACTRA Announces Last John Drainie Awards Northern Stars (October 3, 2015). Retrieved October 25, 2023.
- Gayle MacDonald, Paul Gross to get ACTRA's Award of Excellence The Globe and Mail (January 28, 2005). Retrieved October 25, 2023.
ReferencesISBN links support NWE through referral fees
- Carruthers, Lee, and Charles Tepperman (eds.). Canadian Cinema in the New Millennium. McGill-Queen's University Press, 2023. ISBN 978-0228013983
- Marchessault, Janine, and Will Straw (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Canadian Cinema. Oxford University Press, 2019. ISBN 978-0190229108
- Pike, David L. Canadian Cinema Since the 1980s: At the Heart of the World. University of Toronto Press, 2012. ISBN 978-1442612402
- Shatner, William. Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large. Dutton Adult, 2011. ISBN 978-0525952510
- Topalovich, Maria. A Pictorial History of Canadian Film Awards. Don Mills, Ontario: Stoddart, 1984. ISBN 978-0773720367
- Topalovich, Maria. And the Genie Goes To...: Celebrating 50 Years of the Canadian Film Awards. Stoddart, 2000. ISBN 978-0773732384
All links retrieved November 25, 2023.
- Canadian Screen Awards Official Website
- Canadian Screen Awards The Canadian Encyclopedia
- ACTRA National
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