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TV & Film News – Alanis Obomsawin, Sphere Media among BANFF Rockies Gala honourees

Alanis Obomsawin

Alanis Obomsawin, Jennifer Podemski, and Sphere Media are among those set to be honoured during the Banff World Media Festival (BANFF). Set for June 13, this year’s Rockies Gala will be hosted by actor, singer and comedian Craig Robinson (The Office, Ghosted). Obomsawin (Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance, Rocks at Whiskey Trench) is receiving the Career Achievement Award, recognizing the extraordinary career of someone who has had a significant impact on the screen-based industries. Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato of Los Angeles-based prodco World of Wonder (RuPaul’s Drag Race, Andy Cohen’s Then & Now) will be presented with this year’s Impact Award, while Montreal-headquartered Sphere Media will be honoured with the Innovative Producer Award, which recognizes the entrepreneurial excellence and achievements of an independent producer in TV/digital media. Read more here.

Elza Kephart

The Banff World Media Festival, in partnership with the Director’s Guild of Canada (DGC) and Warner Bros. Discovery Access Canada, has announced Elza Kephart of Midnight Kingdom Films as the first recipient of the Jean-Marc Vallée Bursary offering a Québec-based director an opportunity to attend the festival to showcase their work, and gain industry profile. Announced during the 2022 Rockie Awards Gala, the annual bursary honors the legacy of Québec filmmaker, Jean-Marc Vallée (Big Little Lies, Dallas Buyers Club). In addition to providing recipients with a pass to BANFF and a $5,000 professional development award, the bursary also supports travel and professional development opportunities.

The Canadian Cinema Editors (CCE) have handed out their 13th annual awards. Among this year’s winners, Dev Singh won Best Editing in TV Drama for The Porter, while Sophie Leblond claimed the Feature Film award for Viking. The late David B. Thompson was posthumously honoured with the CCE Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Indigenous Screen Office (ISO) has committed $1M to the building of a film and television production studio in Iqaluit, Nunavut. ISO was first-in-funder for the studio initiative, led by Red Marrow Media, which triggered a private partnership investment from Inuk entrepreneur Cody Dean. ISO says the studio is part of a larger investment in Nunavut through its Sector Development program, which also includes support for Inuit TV and Uvagut TV. The capital contribution ensures Red Marrow’s as-yet untitled scripted series created and written by Inuit writers and producers Stacey Aglok MacDonald and Alethea Arnaquq-Baril will be shot in Nunavut rather than in the south, maximizing the benefits of the project for the Inuit production community. The project is majority produced by Red Marrow, in partnership with Miranda de Pencier’s Northwood Entertainment and is the first ever CBC/APTN/Netflix collaboration.

Thunderbird Entertainment Group has formalized its consumer products operations under the new Thunderbird Brands banner. Led by Thunderbird President of Global Distribution and Consumer Products, Richard Goldsmith, Thunderbird Brands represents product, experience and service licensing rights for the production company’s original series from Atomic Cartoons (animation, kids and family), Great Pacific Media (unscripted) and Thunderbird Scripted (comedy, drama) labels and select third-party properties under the company’s management. Thunderbird Brands will make its industry debut at Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, June 13-15, where it will present Mermicorno: Starfall, Mittens & Pants, The Last Kids on Earth, and Highway Thru Hell to the consumer products market.

Youth Media Alliance (YMA) has announced the winners of the first edition of the YMA Steven DeNure Children’s Content Internship, launched to enable members to offer students or emerging producers an immersive paid work experience with a production company or broadcaster working in children’s content. The YMA will provide $4,500 for a 12-week internship, to be matched by the mentor company. A committee of youth media professionals has selected Toronto-based studio BP Solarpunk Media, mentoring Centennial College Film & Television – Business student Shanelle Simms, and Little Engine Moving Pictures, mentoring Humber College Film & TV Production student Tania Goncalves, as the recipients. 

Entertainment One (eOne) has entered into a multi-year first-look deal with Canadaland to adapt its original podcasts for scripted and non-scripted television, limited series and documentaries. All projects would be co-produced by eOne and Canadaland, with eOne serving as international distributor. The agreement builds on eOne’s previous collaboration with Canadaland and journalist Ryan McMahon on the Thunder Bay docuseries.

OUTtv has announced its first original UK commissions, with unscripted interactive comedy series Rosie Runs Riot (6×15’) and stand-up comedy series Live at the Queer Comedy Club (6×22’) joining the service. The series will both launch on OUTtv globally later this year, and simultaneously on its UK channel

Paul Spence as Dean Murdoch in Fubar II

Eagle Vision and PSA Productions have begun production in Winnipeg on highly-anticipated action comedy DEANER ‘89 from writer/producer Paul Spence (Fubar), director Sam McGlynn (Method Studios, Electronic Arts) and producer Kyle Irving (Orphan: First Kill). The all-star cast includes Spence, Will Sasso (MADtv), Star Slade (Burden of Truth), Maddy Foley (The Boys), Mary Walsh (This Hour Has 22 Minutes) and Kevin McDonald (The Kids in the Hall). Spence has created a standalone feature inspired by his original character, Dean Murdoch, whose fictional life was previously documented in two films and a TV series. In DEANER ‘89, Murdoch blasts back to high school to star in “the greatest heavy metal origin story ever told.” 

The Marilyn Denis Show is heading into its final week of episodes after 13 seasons on CTV, with the farewell episode airing Friday, June 9 at 10 a.m. ET. Among next week’s special guests are Jann Arden, Denis’ former CHUM 104.5 co-host Roger Ashby, contractor and TV personality Sebastien Clovis, House & Home magazine founder Lynda Reeves, and designer Brian Gluckstein, in addition to numerous celebrity farewell messages.

The 2023 Canadian Championship Final will be broadcast live on OneSoccer on June 7 from Vancouver, where the Vancouver Whitecaps will take on CF Montréal to determine the winner of the Voyageurs Cup and a ticket to the 2024 Concacaf Champions League, the highest  tournament for clubs in the Concacaf (North and Central America and the Caribbean) region. The match will kick off at 7 p.m. PT on OneSoccer and will be topped and tailed by live studio coverage hosted by Andi Petrillo, alongside pundits Gareth Wheeler and Jordan Wilson. Adam Jenkins and Jimmy Brennan will provide commentary in English, while Matt Cullen will call the game in French and Oliver Platt will be onsite to add colour as pitch-side reporter.

InterINDigital has announced the Season 2 premiere dates of original documentary series, Crazy Like A Lynx, which will air on APTN in Ojibwe on June 5 and in English on June 9. The series takes viewers behind-the-scenes of some of Canada’s most successful and unique Indigenous organizations, businesses, programs, and people, following co-hosts Don Kelly and Dakota Ray Hebert as they travel across Canada meeting Indigenous entrepreneurs.

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