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TV & Film News – Deepa Mehta’s ‘Funny Boy’ to represent Canada at Oscars

Nimmi Harasgama and Toronto’s Ali Kazmi in Funny Boy. The adaptation of the Shyam Selvadurai novel has been selected to represent Canada at the 2021 Oscars.

Funny Boy, Deepa Mehta’s film adaptation of Shyam Selvadurai’s coming-of-age novel, will represent Canada in the race for Best International Feature Film at the 2021 Academy Awards in April. Shot on location in Sri Lanka, among the film’s cast are Vancouver actor Agam Darshi and Toronto’s Ali Kazmi. At least 50% of the film is in languages other than English, namely Tamil. Ava Duvernay’s independent distribution company ARRAY is releasing Funny Boy, which will premiere on CBC-TV Dec. 4 and be released outside of Canada on Netflix, Dec. 10. Read more here.

Telefilm has released its 2019-20 Annual Report: Building Resilience Through Partnership. Among the report highlights are that higher-budget films —over $2.5 million— directed by women have reached the parity zone both in terms of volume and investments. Telefilm also made commitments of $4.3 million to 21 projects led by Indigenous creators, surpassing the $4 million average annual commitment set in 2016-17. Agency support saw 139 feature films travel to 19 countries. Telefilm will hold an annual public assembly on Jan. 21 in a digital format where members of its executive leadership team will discuss the report, as well as priorities going forward.

HireBIPOC has announced the addition of more than a dozen new industry and community partners who’ve joined the initiative to shift hiring practices, increase representation, and eradicate systemic racism in the Canadian media landscape. They include Blue Ant Media, Canadian Independent Screen Fund, Creative BC, Femmes du cinéma, de la télévision et des médias numériques, Hollywood Suite, Pinewood Studios, TIFF, and the WIFT (Women in Film & Television) chapters in Atlantic Canada, Alberta, Toronto and Vancouver, among others. Since its launch, HireBIPOC says the site has seen exponential growth in a matter of weeks, with over 3,500 members now registered, making it one of the largest rosters of its kind. 

The Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) has announced that the 2021 edition of Prime Time, its annual flagship conference, will be held virtually. Renamed Prime Time Online, the event will launch on Jan. 28 and run over the following two weeks. It will include panels and keynotes, buyer briefings and one-on-one pitching sessions, as well as networking opportunities for industry leaders.

The Canada Media Fund and the Canadian Trade Commissioners Service are currently accepting applications from Canadian television and/or web series producers with two to five years of experience who would like to take part in new initiative RDVCANADA | Meet the Series 2020-2021. It will enable 10 participants to benefit from personalized guidance (networking, meetings, B2B, consultant etc.) for six months covering four events (Content London, Series Market – Berlin, Séries Mania and MIPTV) by two external experts from the audiovisual industry, Tania de Montaigne and Frédéric Pittoors d’Haveskercke. The deadline for applications is Nov. 9.

Telefilm is accepting submissions for its market showcase Not Short on Talent presented at the online Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Market 2021. The initiative is designed to increase the visibility of new Canadian short films at international markets. For Clermont-Ferrand, a 90-minute curated program will screen online from February to December 2021 to Clermont-Ferrand Access Pro delegates at the Short Film Market, which runs parallel to the International Short Film Festival at Clermont-Ferrand, Jan. 31 to Feb. 8, 2021. The deadline to apply is Nov. 13. 

Trickster is the latest CBC series to be picked by The CW network in the U.S. The Indigenous sci-fi series will have its American premiere Jan. 12. The CW has also picked up additional seasons of CBC dramas Coroner and Burden of Truth.

David Suzuki

David Suzuki launches the 60th season of CBC’s The Nature of Things on Friday, Nov. 6, going to the front lines of the climate rebellion with new doc Rebellion, from producers/directors Mark and Caitlin Starowicz. Premiering on CBC and CBC Gem, Suzuki profiles activists from Greta Thunberg to Gail Bradbrook of the Extinction Rebellion movement, along with Sir David Attenborough and actress Jane Fonda, among others.

Global has announced new November premiere dates joining its Fall 2020 primetime lineup. Legal drama Bull returns Monday, Nov. 16, while Dick Wolf franchise hits FBI and FBI: Most Wanted premiere Tuesday, Nov. 17. Global also welcomes back The Blacklist with the Season 8 premiere on Friday, Nov. 13. Sitcom The Unicorn also returns for a second season Thursday, Nov. 12.

Jon Dore

Just For Laughs says production has wrapped on Humour Resources (6X30), a new comedy series starring Canadian comedian Jon Dore (Inside Amy Schumer, The Stand Up Show with Jon Dore). Produced remotely from August to October, the series features Dore as a human resources manager providing virtual coaching to some of the world’s top comics like Sarah Silverman, Tom Green, Eric Andre, and Scott Thompson. Co-created by Dore, Adam Brodie and Dave Derewlany, the show is slated to premiere on CBC and CBC Gem in winter 2021.

Ken Shaw

CTV News has launched Coping Through Covid, a new interview series dedicated to the impact of the ongoing pandemic on the mental health of Canadians. Hosted by former CTV Toronto anchor Ken Shaw, the segments are airing weekdays at 6 p.m. ET on CTV Toronto’s CTV News at Six and other select CTV stations. Produced in consultation with Bell Let’s Talk, Shaw sits down with medical professionals and experts to discuss a wide range of topics, including how to identify early signs of depression and coping with isolation and anxiety. The segments will be available on following each broadcast.

Jonathan and Drew Scott

HGTV Canada’s Celebrity IOU returns Dec. 14, spotlighting more Hollywood A-lister renovations as Drew and Jonathan Scott help stars with surprise home overhauls. Featured celebrities include Zooey Deschanel, Justin Hartley, Allison Janney, and Rainn Wilson. 

Love Nature’s new wildlife and nature series, Stormborn, travels north across remote and rugged landscapes to film a compelling cast of animal characters over the course of a dramatic breeding season. Ewan McGregor lends his voice to the three-part series as cameras follow Arctic foxes, otters and reindeer across McGregor’s homeland of Scotland, as well as Iceland and Norway. The world broadcast premiere of Stormborn airs Sunday, Nov. 15 on Love Nature during the channel’s nationwide free preview event through Jan. 3. Love Nature is also available on Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV, with new episodes of Stormborn rolling out weekly.

CHEK-TV will carry its usual Remembrance Day broadcast live from the Victoria Cenotaph at the BC Legislature on Nov. 11.This year, because of COVID, the Victoria branch of the Royal Canadian Legion is encouraging people to show their respects by staying home and watching  the ceremony on television. CHEK’s coverage will start at 10:30 a.m. PT and will be broadened with live cameras at cenotaphs in Esquimalt, home to the CFB Esquimalt Navy Base, and Nanaimo, hosted by CHEK News anchor Joe Perkins.

Global News is celebrating 10 years as the exclusive media partner of the No Stone Left Alone Foundation, marking a decade of annual commemoration ceremonies. On Wednesday, Nov. 11, Global News will air National Remembrance Day news special, Canada Remembers, hosted by Global National weekend anchor Robin Gill at 7:30 a.m. PT/8:30 a.m. MT/10:30 a.m. MT and ET/11:30 a.m. AT. The 30-minute presentation will include stories woven together from No Stone Left Alone events across Canada, and feature students sharing their reflections of fallen soldiers’ stories. The special will also air across the Global News Radio network on 980 CKNW Vancouver, 770 CHQR Calgary, 630 CHED Edmonton, 680 CJOB Winnipeg, AM 640 Toronto, 980 CFPL London and 900 CHML Hamilton.

Global News says its Decision BC provincial election coverage across TV, radio, online, social and the Global TV App “outstripped the competition” by a huge margin on election night. According to Numeris data provided by the network, from the time the polls closed to the final election call, Global beat CTV by 620% and CBC by 350% (based on A25-54 Rating %). Peak viewing was from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. block, when Global averaged a 3.9 rating, CTV 0.5 and CBC at 1.0 against A25-54. In terms of online engagement, Global’s election-related page views totalled 1,185,016, while on YouTube, the stream saw 114,625 total views over the course of the evening with a peak of 85,307 concurrent viewers.

Corus Studios has announced the sale of over 300 hours of new and returning series, including deals in the U.S., Asia, Australia, Israel, and Poland. Off the heels of the studio selling over 85 hours of home and food content to HGTV and Food Network in the U.S., Island of Bryan (Renovation Island) Season 1 and 2 have been sold to Poland’s Canal + Polska and Scott’s Vacation House Rules (Vacation House Rules) (13×60) travels to Australia’s Nine Network. The Big Bake (18×60) has also arrived in the UK on ITVBe, among other deals.

Incendo has announced it’s begun principal photography on Cupids on Beacon Street, which is being shot on location in Montreal, starring Canadian actress Britt Irvin (Time For You To Come Home for Christmas; Cheasapeake Shores; Undercover Angel). The movie also co-stars Canadian actors Jeremy Guilbaut (The Last Bridesmaid; Destination Wedding) and Tamara Almeida (Entertaining Christmas; Ghostwriter). The film is being produced in association with Citytv to air as part of the network’s Fall in Love Fridays lineup. Kaleigh Kavanagh produces, while the Executive Producers are Jean Bureau and Ian Whitehead.


BANFF Spark Accelerator for Women in the Business of Media has received additional funding through the Government of Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) to support women entrepreneurs through the COVID-19 pandemic. With the additional funds, BANFF Spark will provide the 100 participants currently taking part in the program with training and resources to address immediate and long-term strategies for tackling business challenges associated with the pandemic. 

Women in Animation’s (WIA) Vancouver chapter has selected the six finalists for its Animation Career EXCELerator Program (A.C.E.). The announcement was made live at the WIA Vancouver and SPARK Animation Diversity & Inclusion Summit grand finale Oct. 30. The six finalists that will be working together to write, develop and produce an animated short film are: Writer – Robyn Campbell; Producer – Tini Wider; Director – Ana Gusson; Art Director – Cindey Chiang; Animation Director – Erica Miles; and Composer – Eva Pekarova. A.C.E. is an expanded and updated version of the organization’s Five in Focus program. The six women selected represent key creative positions in animation in which women have been traditionally underrepresented. 

Youth Media Alliance (YMA) presents the 11th annual Média-Jeunes Conference Nov. 18-20 online, in French. This year’s conference offers six content blocks over three days with each presentation followed with a brief question period (via Zoom chat). The conference will also offer online speed-dating meetings between broadcasters, producers and creators. Find the full conference program, here.

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