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TV & Film News – Canada’s Drag Race among Canadian Screen Award winners

The Canadian Screen Awards have announced winners this week in Broadcast News, Documentary & Factual, Sports Programming and Digital & Immersive, and Children’s & Animation and Lifestyle & Reality. Among the big winners so far this week is Canada’s Drag Race, which picked up six awards, while CBC and Obsidian Theatre collaboration 21 Black Futures, claimed four. The awards continue Thursday with the Drama & Comedy Crafts Awards and the Scripted Programs & Performance Awards. The week culminates in Sunday’s 2022 Canadian Screen Awards broadcast on CBC and CBC Gem (8 p.m. ET).

Corus Entertainment, Radio-Canada, Shine Light Entertainment and Avanti Groupe are among the Canadian content producers shortlisted in the 2022 New York Festivals TV & Film Awards competition. Corus earned eight shortlist nods for its promotion of shows like Rock Solid Builds, STACKTV Sharkfest 2021, its Cheese: A Love Story launch, and the Nelvana/Kids Can Press BLACK WRITE Talent Incubator. Three Radio-Canada documentaries made the list, including COVID-19: Origins of the Virus, shortlisted in Health/Medical Information. Montreal independent production house Avanti Groupe was nominated for On Duty 24⁄7 ⁄ De garde 24⁄7 in the Documentary: Social Issues category, while Calgary’s Shine Light Entertainment was shortlisted for the Calgary Stampede Rodeo Open 2021 in the Sports Program Open & Titles category. Read more here.

The Canadian Sync Awards are returning to Toronto during Canadian Music Week (CMW), recognizing excellence in music supervision in screen media. Presented during CMW, in partnership with The Guild of Music Supervisors, Canada (GMSC), and with sponsorship from Music Publishers Canada, the Sync Awards will take place on Thursday, June 9 at the El Mocambo from 4:30 – 7 p.m. The Sync Awards span Film, TV, Sports, Gaming, Advertising, Trailers and Emerging Media. Read more here.

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) will invest just under $366M in Canada’s television and digital media industries in 2022-23. The CMF says this year’s budget reflects a steady contribution from the Government of Canada and stabilization funding to help mitigate declining contributions from Broadcast Distribution Undertakings (BDUs) to the CMF. Among other changes, the CMF will continue most of the Flexibility Measures it introduced in response to the pandemic to help stakeholders continue adapting to new ways of production. After focusing on Indigenous Peoples to Canada and Racialized Communities in the first year of its Equity and Inclusion Strategy, the CMF will expand its definition of “Diverse Community” and include members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community and Persons with disabilities. The CMF will host an information session on program guidelines changes on April 21 at 11 a.m. ET for the French-language market and April 21 at 2 p.m. ET for the English-language market. 

Cineflix contract workers will share $2.5 million in a class action settlement negotiated by CWA Canada and IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees). The suit was filed in 2018 by Toronto law firm Cavalluzzo LLP on behalf of independent contractors for years of unpaid overtime, vacation pay, and holiday premiums – basic minimum standards under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act. Cineflix, which produces series like Property Brothers and Mayday, had a choice between paying $2.5 million or paying $1 million and signing a collective agreement that proposed improvements to wages, benefits and work hours. The class action’s statement of claim was based around the experience of Property Brothers story editor Anna Bourque, who routinely worked 50 to 70-hour weeks without overtime, vacation or premium pay. Read more here.

Cineflix Media has announced the acquisition of Back Alley Film Productions, along with the company’s award-winning library of content IP. After a three-decade collaboration creating and producing TV series for Canadian and American networks, Back Alley Films co-founders Adrienne Mitchell and Janis Lundman have decided to explore new opportunities. Cineflix will absorb Back Alley Films’ operations and acquire its programming assets, including the company’s ownership interest in shows like Bellevue, Bomb Girls and Durham County. The acquisition also includes Back Alley Films’ stake in CBC’s Coroner, which Back Alley Films and Muse Entertainment have co-produced with Cineflix since 2019, and for which Cineflix Rights is the global distribution partner.  

Sphere has unveiled a new brand image that will see all of its units rebranded under the Sphere banner. Sienna Films, led by Jennifer Kawaja; BGM, led by Marlo Miazga; and GO Films, led by Josée Vallée, will become Sphère Média, which will oversee the creation, production and distribution of all television content. Oasis Animation, directed by Jacques Bilodeau, and Sardine Productions, directed by Ghislain Cyr, will become Sphère Animation, while WaZabi Films, directed by Anick Poirier and Lorne Price, which distributes feature films, will become Sphère Films. The company says its new architecture is designed to simplify communication with its customers and the industry, and accelerate collaboration and synergies between its teams to enable the realization of a greater number of projects.

The Directors Guild of Canada, B.C. District Council (DGC BC), has called a vote for a strike mandate following a breakdown in collective agreement negotiations. Talks have been ongoing for a year between DGC BC and bargaining representatives from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the Canadian Media Producers Association. DGC BC members encompass over 5,000 creative and logistical personnel in the B.C. film and television sector from entry level Production Assistants to Directors. The labour organization says sticking points in the negotiations include minimum wage differentials; payment terms for COVID testing; retroactivity of wage increases; and employer clawbacks to the current collective agreement. Read more here.

Netflix is extending its lease agreement with Martini Film Studios in Langley, BC for an additional five years. The lease extension will provide the streamer with continued access to eight stages and more than 260,000 sq. ft.  of total space. Recent Netflix productions filmed at Martini Studios include Space Force (Season 2), Mixtape, Another Life (Season 2), Ivy & Bean and Grendel (Season 1). Among other initiatives the studio and Netflix have partnered on are the installation of 20 electric vehicle charging stations and providing the use of stage space for professional training programs to increase capacity for the province’s growing production sector.

Boat Rocker Media has reported its financial results for the three months and year ended Dec. 31, recording record Adjusted EBITDA of $19.0 million in Q4 2021 versus $7.4 million in Q4 2020, an increase of 155%, and $31.6 million for the full year versus $14.1 million in 2020, an increase of 125%. Revenue growth for the full-year period was mainly driven by a 241% revenue increase in Television. Kids and Family, which also delivered 32% growth while Representation delivered 33% growth.

Network Media Group has reported annual results for the year ended Nov. 30, including revenues of $3,534,288, a net loss of $2,496,328, and Adjusted EBITDA loss of $1,859,482. Network CFO Darren Battersby says due to COVID-related filming restrictions and subsequent production delays, Fiscal 2021 was a year of development, and preparation to resume filming with safety protocols in place. While Network’s revenues were comparatively lower than the previous year, the company says it’s in production on multiple projects this summer onwards, and is optimistic about the development pipeline. Network says it has contracted future revenues of $16.6M with $3.0M expected to be recorded in the next six months and $13.3M expected within seven to 12 months.

CBC/Radio-Canada has secured the exclusive broadcast rights in Canada for the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026, Los Angeles 2028, Olympic Winter Games 2030 (the host of which is yet to be selected) and Brisbane 2032. Including the Olympic Games Paris 2024, for which the public broadcaster has already been awarded the rights, CBC/Radio-Canada will continue to serve as Canada’s Olympic network for the next five Olympic Games, acquiring rights across all media platforms, including television and digital. The agreement includes a commitment to broadcast at least 200 hours of the Olympic Games and 100 hours of the Olympic Winter Games on free-to-air television.

Rugby Canada and CBC Sports have extended their partnership agreement ensuring the public broadcaster remains the home of international rugby sevens in Canada for the next two years. The extension includes the broadcast rights for the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 (Sept. 9-11) and the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. As part of the agreement, which has been in place since Dec. 2017, CBC Sports will deliver multi-platform live streaming coverage of rugby sevens in Canada via CBC Gem, and the CBC Sports app, as well as select broadcast coverage on CBC TV. CBC Sports’ coverage includes this weekend’s Singapore Sevens (April 9-10) before Canada’s Men’s Sevens team makes its much-anticipated homecoming for the HSBC Canada Sevens in Vancouver (April 16-17), followed by Canada’s Women’s Sevens team’s return for the HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens in Langford (April 30-May 1).

TSN and CTV will deliver coverage of the 2022 Masters Tournament, airing April 7-10. The networks’ Canadian coverage includes the opening rounds on April 7 and 8, with the third and final rounds airing Saturday, April 9 and Sunday, April 10. French-language coverage is available to RDS and RDS Direct subscribers. James Duthie hosts live on-site from Augusta National alongside TSN golf analyst Bob Weeks and Canadian PGA Tour competitor Graham DeLaet. Along with delivering daily news updates and analysis for SPORTSCENTRE, the Masters Panel recaps each day of the Tournament with Masters PrimeTime. As well, TSN’s Lindsay Hamilton is joined in-studio with Golf Talk Canada co-host Mark Zecchino to contribute reports over the course of the week.

The CW has acquired eOne drama, Family Law, which premiered on Global last fall. Shot in Vancouver, produced by SEVEN24 Films and Lark Productions, and written by Susin Nielsen (Degrassi, Robson Arms), the one-hour legal drama stars Jewel Staite, Victor Garber, Zach Smadu and Genelle Williams. The CW has also renewed The Flash (Season 9), Kung Fu (Season 3), Nancy Drew (Season 4), Riverdale (Season 7), Superman & Lois (Season 3), All American (Season 5), and Walker (Season 3).

Breaking Character cast member Alexia Vassos

AMI, in partnership with Winterhouse Films, has announced the debut of Breaking Character, on April 27 on AMI-tv. The 10-part documentary series follows the journey of mold-breaking performers, who are legally blind, hard of hearing, deaf, or who use a wheelchair, as they navigate the entertainment industry in Hollywood North. In the past decade, less than three per cent of films featured a character with a disability and, often, these rarest of roles have been taken by neuro-typical and able-bodied actors. 

National Canadian Film Day, coming up on April 20, has named Mary Simon, Canada’s Governor General, as its Honorary Patron. With the 2022 Spotlight on Celebrating Indigenous Voices, presented in association with imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival, more than 25 Indigenous-made features will be presented throughout the day. With a return to in-person screenings, programming highlights include: A conversation with filmmakers Alanis Obomsawin (Abenaki) and Jeff Barnaby (Mi’qmaw) presented in-person at the opening of the new Alanis Obomsawin Theatre at the National Film Board in Montreal; over 10,000 high school students from more than 300 schools from every province and territory will engage in RCtv, an interactive livestream featuring CSA-nominated Night Raiders writer-director Danis Goulet and cast member Brooklyn Letexier-Hart (Cree/Métis). Broadcasters including APTN, Bell Media, Corus and Super Channel are also participating, led by Hollywood Suite with a full 24 hours of Indigenous programming.

Telefilm’s Made in Canada Spotlight is back, following its launch last year. Formerly known as the Canadian Movie of the Week, the 12-week promotion highlights a recently released or classic Canadian film available to rent for $0.99 on the Apple TV app. The series begins on April 5 with Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz and concludes the week of June 21 with The Tragically Hip documentary Long Time Running. The week of May 24 celebrates the French modern classic C.R.A.Z.Y., by Jean-Marc Vallée, restored in 4K. Telefilm and Apple will also toast Francophone gems with a Made in Québec Spotlight month-long series, beginning May 31 with Xavier Dolan’s Laurence Anyways.

CTV has launched on the Roku platform. Now the #1 TV streaming platform in Canada, based on hours streamed, according to a recent study conducted by the Hypothesis Group, Canadian Roku users will now have access to live and on demand programming from CTV on their Roku streaming player or Roku TV. Viewers can enjoy full episodes of  CTV shows, series and movies from across CTV Comedy Channel, CTV Drama Channel, CTV Sci-Fi Channel, and CTV Life Channel, as well as Discovery, Animal Planet, Discovery Science, Discovery Velocity, Investigation Discovery, E!, and MUCH. CTV Throwback, CTV Movies, and MTV are also available with no subscription or sign-in required.

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