by Ralph Lucas – Publisher
(March 13, 2017 – Toronto, ON) If you take the glitz, glamour and emotion out of it, the Canadian Screen Awards can be reduced, like all awards shows, to a set of numbers. Last night the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television handed out 42 Canadian Screen Awards. including eight Academy Special Awards in a gala event hosted by comedian Howie Mandel.
The night’s top winners were Xavier Dolan’s feature film It’s Only the End of the World with 6 wins followed by Race with 4 wins. Tatiana Maslany took home two trophies for her lead performances in television (Orphan Black) and film (The Other Half).
Murdoch Mysteries won the Golden Screen Award for TV Drama / Comedy, The Amazing Race Canada won the Golden Screen Award for TV Reality Show, Johnny Ma won the Best First Feature for Old Stone and Just for Laughs was honoured with the Icon Award, presented by comedian Dave Chappelle.
Other special award recipients included Tantoo Cardinal who was honoured with the Earle Grey Award, presented by Tina Keeper and Christopher Plummer who was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by director Atom Egoyan, who directed Plummer in the film Remember. And as previously announced, Les 3 P’tits Cochons 2 won the Cineplex Golden Screen Award for Feature Film, which is given to the Canadian film with the highest box office in the previous year.
But that’s the numbers. There were several emotional moments both on stage during the televised Gala and backstage as various award winners made their way to the Media Room where they had a chance to talk about what the win meant for them and to take a few questions from what has become a large cadre of writers and photographers, including Northernstars.
A few memorable moments: Tatiana Maslany showed up shoeless and without her two awards and so when it was suggested she hoist the huge stage CSA, the indomitable actor did just that, laughing at how light it turned out to be. She talked briefly about the emotions running through her at that precise moment. Winning the awards for her work, particularly on the long-running and highly popular series Orphan Black knowing that the very next day, today, she would be back at work on the very last episode of the series. She also talked a bit about her work in the film The Other Half. By then her shoes and two awards had been delivered and there was another round of photos, but we liked this one the best.
Christopher Plummer joked on stage about his long life and how the curtain has yet to come down on his remarkable career. Back stage in the Media Room he was the perfect gentleman, just what you would expect from a man who has been slowed only a little by age and has nothing to prove to anyone. He mounted the platform carefully, slowly, but without help and seemed genuinely embarrassed yet very pleased to be honoured by the country of his birth. A sign of respect from the gathered media was evident when he was the only person who was addressed by his last name. It was always Mr. Plummer, from those asking questions and those looking to get a second or third photograph of the very obliging star. In this case the word is most appropriate. The Sony Centre, where the Broadcast Gala took place, was filled with actors, directors, screenwriters, etc., but there were few certifiable stars and Mr. Plummer was certainly one them.
Tantoo Cardinal has been a favourite around here since her appearance as Black Shawl in the American epic Dances With Wolves. She is a tall, dignified woman who measures her words very carefully. When we asked for her guidance in how we should identify First Nations actors on this website she took time to underline the fact that her choice might not be the only one, but suggested the best word to use is Indigenous. It signifies “of the land,” she said. A word that is applicable to all original populations in North America, South America, or wherever. It may take some time, but as we constantly update the pages of Northernstars we’ll be sure to take her advice to heart. Cardinal has been involved with television shows such as North of 60, Arctic Air, Mohawk Girls and Strange Empire. In addition to her work in the Kevin Costner film Dances with Wolves, which won 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Tantoo Cardinal also played the mother of Brad Pitt’s wife in Legends of the Fall, which costarred Anthony Hopkins. Northernstars asked her what it was like to be a role model for up and coming Indigenous actors. In a telling moment, she talked quietly about what it was like for her, starting out with no real role models, in a time when Indigenous actors had few roles and how she never thought of herself as a role model. One day talking with another women the conversation turned to her two young daughters. When Cardinal asked what her daughters wanted to be, the mother replied, “One wants to be a doctor, and the other wants to grow up to be an actor, like you.” You could tell the moment had touched her deeply and how a simple question and answer can frame a lifetime of work. This year’s recipient of The Earle Grey Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award is named after the first president of the Toronto branch of ACTRA.
Stephan James made it to the Media Room after picking up his Canadian Screen Award for his starring role in Race. He got his start in television starring for two seasons in the long-running series Degrassi. He landed his first major feature film role playing opposite Tatyana Ali and Fefe Dobson in the 2012 film Home Again. John Boyega had originally been tapped to play the lead role in the Jesse Owens biopic Race, but was offered Star Wars: Episode VII, opening the door for James to play Owens in the inspirational Olympic biopic. James was clearly humbled by the award and grateful for what it means to a young actor still in the early stages of what promises to be an exciting career.
A few last words about the night itself. Setting up to photograph the Red Carpet reminded us of the expression “like herding cats.” There was a certain amount of organized chaos, some totally disorganized chaos, and a few moments that were right out of a failed Grade 5 picnic with actors wandering around like lost children with no idea of where they should go or what they should do next. The pros, the actors who have “been there and done that” carried off their task with aplomb, always gracious, always making sure the far too many photographers and far, far too many pretenders gripping their cellphones got the shots they needed. The Academy had a whole fan section set up and it was great to see that it was filled to capacity with eager filmgoers hoping to get a shot of their favourite actor or actress. It’s just part of the biz that few if any have favourite directors and the general public just doesn’t care about who is a producer.
It is on the whole a fun event and there are very often quiet moments of shared companionship that arise when a bunch of strangers are thrown together by circumstance or design. The stars also have a chance to mingle outside their normal barriers knowing, or at least believing, that unlike an always fickle public, members of the media are usually on their side. A small example of that occurred when Canadian Screen Award-winner Catherine O’Hara stepped off the platform in the Media Room and turned to me and whispered “Don’t all of you have something better to do…?” She was actually saying how thankful she was that a room full of strangers cared enough about all the craziness to actually show up and pay attention.
In short, a grand time was had by all.
This article is Copyright © 2017 by Northernstars.ca and may not be reproduced without written permission. For more information about copyright, click here. Ralph Lucas is the Founder and Publisher of Northernstars.ca. He began writing about film while in radio in Montreal in the mid-1970s.