“Representation matters. When communities see themselves reflected onscreen, it means they’ve moved from the margins into the forefront; it gives them a voice.” -Paul Sun-Hyung Lee
The 6th edition of the Canadian Screen Awards has come and gone, and having attended for the first time, it exceeded expectations. Canada sometimes has a reputation as dry, boring and understated compared to our neighbours to the south, but the 2018 Canadian Screen Awards showed that the Canadian film and television industries are alive and well.
Among the big winners this week were the detective drama Cardinal which took home six awards including Supporting actress, drama and Lead actor, Television film or miniseries. Baroness von Sketch Show took home four trophies including Sketch comedy program or series. Kim’s Convenience took home three trophies with awards for Comedy Series, Lead actor, comedy and Supporting actor, comedy. Alias Grace took home six trophies, including the awards for Limited series, Lead actress, television film or miniseries, and Costume design.
Listen to SHIFTER’s Canadian Screen Awards recap on CBC Radio One
In the film categories, Maudie took home seven trophies, including awards for Motion Picture, Direction, Actress in a leading role, Actor in a supporting role, and Original Screenplay.
Other notable winners were The Marilyn Denis Show for Talk program or series, Peter Mansbridge for Lifetime Achievement Award, and Margaret Atwood and the late Jay Switzer for the Board of Directors Award.
After the week long festivities a few things are clear.
First, the future of Canadian film and television is in good hands. Actors like Nabil Rajo, winner of Actor in a leading role award and Elisa Bauman, winner of the Fan Choice Award, represent the next generation of Canadian talent who are as much smart and socially conscious as they are talented.
Second, with the growth of Canadian content in recent years, thanks to increased production at the CBC, we’re finally inching closer towards developing a proper star system in Canada as evidenced by the Family Fan Day where thousands of fans gathered to meet their favourite actors and personalities. The shows being produced in Canada right are pushing the envelope, but they’re also resonating with fans.
Third, Canada is a great example to the world when it comes to diversity in our film and television industries. Indigenous people, women, visible minorities, including immigrants, and members of the LGBTQ community were counted among the winners this week, and in major categories at that. Representation was a major theme at these awards with Kim’s Convenience actor Paul Sun-Hyung Lee stating, “Representation matters. When communities see themselves reflected onscreen, it means they’ve moved from the margins into the forefront; it gives them a voice.”
Overall, the Canadian Screen Awards may lack the star power and prestige of the Oscars and Emmys, but it makes up for it with substance. Canadian film and television aren’t about big budgets and big names. They’re about telling good stories which is what film and television is supposed to be about.
After attending the 2018 Canadian Screen Awards it’s clear that our producers and actors have something to say. There’s an awareness that what they present on screen has the potential to change the way people see the world and the country we live in. There’s a depth and intelligence to our talent, from young up and comers like Nabil Rajo to Margaret Atwood and it’s this intelligence, inclusiveness, storytelling and social awareness that makes our brand of film and television distinctly Canadian.