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TV & Film News – ‘Sort Of’ takes Series Ensemble honour at 22nd ACTRA Awards

ACTRA Toronto handed out the 22nd ACTRA Awards on Monday night at the Palais Royale. CBC and HBO Max series Sort Of took this year’s coveted Members’ Choice Series Ensemble Award, while the 2024 Award of Excellence was presented to veteran television actress Maria del Mar, known for her recurring roles in Blue Murder and Street Legal. Find the full list of winners here.

Eternal Spring (長春)

Jason Loftus’ Eternal Spring is up for a Peabody Award in the Documentary category. The animated doc is based on the animation of Chinese artist Daxiong and centers around Falun Gong’s 2002 hijacking of broadcast TV stations in Changchun, and China’s continued repression of ethnic and religious minority groups. Eternal Spring has received numerous awards, including the Grand Jury Award at last year’s BANFF Rockies International Program Competition. NFB/Notice Pictures’ Oscar-nominated doc To Kill a Tiger also received a nod in the Documentary category. Find the full list of nominees here.

Ariel Nasr

Ariel Nasr is the recipient of this year’s TIFF–CBC Films Screenwriter Award for his screenplay Daudistan. As part of the award, he’ll receive $15,000 along with support from a script consultant and access to the 2024 Toronto International Film Festival and TIFF Industry Conference. Nasr is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and producer whose films include The Forbidden Reel (2019), The Boxing Girls of Kabul (2011), Buzkashi Boys (2012), Good Morning Kandahar (2009), and La Mosquée (2018). He currently serves as a documentary producer at NFB

The Hollywood Reporter Women in Entertainment Canada has announced that award-winning actress, writer, director and producer Devery Jacobs will receive the Impact Award at this year’s inaugural Canadian event in Toronto on May 30. The award is being presented to Jacobs in partnership with the Indigenous Screen Office. Jacobs is currently starring in new Marvel series Echo, which launched on Disney+ earlier this year. She also recently voiced the character “Kahhori” in Marvel’s What If….? series, the franchise’s first Indigenous-Mohawk superhero.

The Banff World Media Festival (BANFF) has announced more industry leaders set to headline the 45th edition of the festival, June 9–12, at the Fairmont Banff Springs. Key sessions include In Conversation With Amy Reisenbach, President of CBS Entertainment, who’ll speak about the network’s 2024/25 programming strategy, the art of building procedural franchises and CBS’ role in the evolving TV ecosystem. Disrupt or Be Disrupted: The Media Industry in the Age of Enshittification will feature Adam Cunningham, Chief Strategy Officer, Allied Global Marketing, who’ll tackle the gradual decline into irrelevance faced by media platforms that fail to evolve with their audience. BANFF says this year, international financing and co-production will be a major focus. The festival will also debut new conference content focused on music on screen.  

Telefilm Canada has released its strategic and corporate plan through 2027. The Crown agency says it will bring its vision to fruition over the next three years through a series of measurable initiatives based on three strategic priorities, including conducting a strategic review of programs and initiatives to maximize impact on the industry and public; evolving its organizational culture to optimize operational efficiency; and playing a leading role in helping modernize the audiovisual sector. 

DGC Ontario has launched the Sustainable Futures Material Reuse Project, a circular economy program spearheaded by the DGC Ontario Sustainability Committee. The initiative provides a solution for leftover production materials by putting them into the hands of film students at schools like York University, Sheridan, Centennial and Humber Colleges, reducing unnecessary waste and ushering in a brighter and greener future for the next generation of filmmakers. Learn more about how you can get involved and find a list of participating institutions and needed materials, here

The Black Screen Office (BSO) has announced two new programs: the BSO Office Hours program, a one-on-one mentorship initiative designed specifically for Black Canadians seeking to enter or advance their careers in the world of film, television, and digital media; and the Black Producer Accelerator Program, in partnership with Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA), focused on increasing representation and supporting the career growth of Black producers in Canada. The program, made possible with financial support from Entertainment Partners, will see six producers participate in 20-week paid mentorship placements, where they will be paired with established producers at CMPA member companies. The application deadline is May 3. 

Michelle Mama & Bill Taylor

Michelle Mama and Bill Taylor have launched boutique production company Gay Agenda, with an aim to foster, mentor, and produce from a defiantly queer lens, and discover and amplify the next generation of queer voices. Gay Agenda is currently in production on feature-length documentary AntiDiva: The Confessions of Carole Pope, slated for release in 2025 on CBC Documentary Channel. It’s also developing That’s Just Super (8×30), a queer superhero series created by Julianna Notten (Erin’s Guide to Kissing Girls) and co-showrun by veteran writer Anthony Q. Farrell (The Office, Shelved).

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and CBC/Radio-Canada have launched their joint campaign for the Olympic Games Paris 2024, titled “Brave is Unbeatable.” The campaign aims to rally Canadians behind Team Canada ahead of Paris 2024 by telling the stories of athletes and their paths to the Olympic Games, including navigating anxiety, getting cut from their high school teams, or coping with pressure. Those featured include Ellie Black (Halifax, NS) – Artistic Gymnastics; Maude Charron (Rimouski, Que.) – Weightlifting; Andre De Grasse (Markham, ON) – Athletics; Justina Di Stasio (Coquitlam, BC) – Wrestling; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Hamilton, ON) – Basketball; Hugo Houle (Sainte-Perpétue, Que.) – Cycling; Philip “Phil Wizard” Kim (Vancouver) – Breaking; Maggie Mac Neil (London, ON) – Swimming; and Skylar Park (Winnipeg) – Taekwondo. The campaign is narrated by in English by Michael J. Fox, and in French by Céline Dion. It was conceived in conjunction with Montreal and Toronto agency, The Hive.

Corus Entertainment’s Geek Girl (10×30) debuts May 30 exclusively on STACKTV in Canada. Based on the best-selling YA novel by British author Holly Smale, the live-action adaptation is a co-production between Aircraft Pictures and RubyRock Pictures, with creative support from Nelvana. The series was filmed in the UK and Ottawa last summer. Following its premiere on STACKTV, Geek Girl will air on YTV in Canada this September.

Crave confirms its hit original series SHORESY returns for a six-episode, third season on Friday, May 24 with two new episodes, and a new episode dropping on subsequent Fridays. Created by and starring Jared Keeso, and produced by New Metric Media in association with Play Fun Games, SHORESY sees the fan favourite character and the Sudbury Blueberry Bulldogs of the Northern Ontario Senior Hockey Organization (The NOSHO), continue their quest to never lose again.

AMI will debut Season 1 of The Squeaky Wheel: Canada on Monday, June 24. Based on Steven Verdile’s web publication The Squeaky Wheel and produced by Hitsby Entertainment, the eight-episode satirical, half-hour news format pokes fun at the ableist society people with disabilities face every day. Directed by Lucy Belgum and Tobi Abdul, the series is anchored by Graham Kent and Gaitrie Persaud with the ensemble cast featuring Margaret Rose, Samantha Wyss, Sivert Das, Wesley Magee-Saxton and Yousef Kadoura. Canadian guest stars from the disability community include Taylor Lindsay-Noel (Mind Your Own Business); Madison Tevlin (Champions, Who Do You Think I Am?); and Lil’ Gabi D (Fashion Dis).

Pluto TV is doubling down on South Park’s success on the platform, offering viewers an entire South Park category with multiple channels dedicated to the fan-favorite series. The “South Park” category will include a “South Park” main channel, available across all international markets, as well as a series of South Park themed channels in Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Latin America and Australia, featuring a selection of South Park episodes dedicated to the theme of the month. In Canada specifically, channels now streaming include: South Park (current channel); South Park: Armageddon! (themed pop-up channel); South Park: Cartman Collection; South Park: Kenny Collection; South Park: Kyle Collection; South Park: Stan Collection; and South Park FR (French channel).

Pluto TV has announced that DesiPlay TV is now streaming in Canada. Viacom18’s DesiPlay TV is the first FAST Hindi General Entertainment Channel to launch on Pluto TV in Canada, featuring Indian stories, Hindi shows and Bollywood movies. Favourite Desi TV shows are also available to watch with English subtitles.

CHEK has announced Donnie and Dhali – The Team will host a post game edition of their show on game nights during the Vancouver Canucks playoff run. Don Taylor, Rick Dhaliwal and producer Ryan Henderson will host a one-hour live show, which will air on CHEK and stream on CHEK+ and YouTube following each game. The post-game show will also be available to download as a podcast. The regular Donnie and Dhali – The Team program will continue to air Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to noon live on CHEK and CHEK+.

Air Canada has announced the addition of three new live TV sports channels to its in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. Sportsnet ONE and Sportsnet East are now available with TVA Sports to start in May. Air Canada’s satellite-connected offering also includes TSN and RDS, CTV News Channel, LCN, and BNN Bloomberg. Live TV is currently available on select domestic and transborder routes.

Vividata has released its latest Study of the Canadian Consumer for Spring 2024. In field from January to December last year, among its findings are that almost half of Canadians report regularly watching TV and movies together as a family. According to the data release, 38% will actively seek out content they can watch together, climbing to 44% for parents. Compared to the average Canadian adult, parents with kids under 12 spend less weekly time with TV (15 hrs. vs 19 hrs.) and streaming (10 hrs. vs 12 hrs.), but are 27% more likely to watch video content online or via streaming service, with almost 85% having streamed in the past month. Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ are their most popular streaming services, with about 20% of Netflix and Disney+ users reporting they watch with ads.

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