(March 10, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario) Some might say it was a long time coming. David Cronenberg himself, however, seemed almost uncomfortable; a reluctant hero in a carefully orchestrated pageant designed to honour one of Canada`s most successful and productive directors. That was the scene last night both on stage and later in the media room in behind-the-scenes comments the renowned director made about his Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2014 Canadian Screen Awards.
The awards show itself had started off in regular fashion, but as it approached the midway point the scene and energy shifted. From the upbeat celebration of this year`s winners, a slightly more poised and deliberate scene unfolded. It began with a wonderfully edited montage of some of David Cronenberg`s work over the past few decades. Some of the clips that were used, he later admitted, were not in the original films as they dated back to the days of the Ontario Censor Board. In their tribute to Cronenberg, actors Jay Baruchel and Viggo Mortensen spoke frankly about the director`s place in the business.
“Mainstream movie business people, much as they might praise him time to time, seem very reluctant to reward him officially. I can understand that because David basically is not one of them. And I think they know it — a fact that probably makes them even more uncomfortable than his movies do,” said Mortensen, who has starred in three of Cronenberg`s films A History of Violence, Eastern Promises and A Dangerous Method. “I think we’re definitely doing the right thing here tonight,” he continued, saying of Cronenberg that he is “the finest director and the sanest man I know for the artistic excellence and the singular courage of his work.”
Cronenberg significantly altered the tone of the tribute by telling a joke. “A man visits his doctor. He says ‘Doctor. I can’t pee.’ The doctor says ‘How old are you?’ He says ‘I’m 93.’ The doctor says ‘You’ve peed enough.’ When I was asked if I would accept this lovely award, it did occur to me the Academy was sending a message that went: David, you’ve peed enough.” Fortunately for us he graciously accept the special tribute. “Somehow I found a way to say yes,” he said. “I can accept this fantastic and very sweet award that has been given to me by my colleagues with, I know, an incredible sweetness and affection — which makes it, you know, just a beautiful thing.”
Back in the media room, Northernstars.ca Publisher, Ralph Lucas asked the director about the changes he has seen in the Canadian film industry since he first started making his films. Cronenberg responded in part by praising Telefilm Canada and the Canada Council for making his first films possible. “Without their support, I would not have been able to make my movies in Canada.”
Cronenberg`s award was one of three that had been previously announced. Don Carmody (pictured above) was on hand to pick up his 8th Golden Reel Award, which is given to the film that enjoyed the highest box office take during the previous year. And Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais was given the Claude Jutra Award for Best First Feature Film, Whitewash, which was produced by Luc Déry and Kim McCraw.
Click here for a complete list of winners from last night`s Canadian Screen Awards.