The 19th Annual ACTRA Awards in Toronto were presented online Sunday evening with Schitt’s Creek winning the Members’ Choice Series Ensemble Award for a third year in a row. Among the evening’s other highlights was the presentation of the 2021 Award of Excellence to multi-disciplinary artist, puppeteer and director Jani Lauzon by her daughter, actress Tara Sky. Outstanding Performance – Female Voice was won by Bahia Watson for her role as Leshawna in Total Dramarama (Fresh TV Inc.), while Cory Doran accepted the award in the Male Voice category for voicing the character of Manson and Johnny in Doomsday Brothers (Portfolio Entertainment). Outstanding Performance – Female went to Tamara Podemski for her role as Alison Trent in Coroner. Jesse LaVercombe won Outstanding Performance – Male for Violation (DM Films). Read more here.
Quebecor Content has acquired the rights to adapt The Masked Singer for Quebec. It’s planning for a fall 2021 premiere of the reality competition show. Originating in South Korea, The Masked Singer has now been adapted in 40 countries, including by FOX in the U.S. and TF1 in France.
TVO Original Dispatches From a Field Hospital premieres March 16, a timely documentary on how Ontario families are straining to keep in touch while staying apart during the COVID-19 pandemic. Windsor filmmaker Matt Gallagher explores the challenges and hopes that his family, and so many others, share as they cope with elderly relatives living in long-term care, shut away from family support and interaction. Gallagher’s own father contracted COVID-19 which resulted in his transfer to a MASH-style field hospital with 49 of his fellow nursing home residents. Featuring intimate conversations captured through tablets, smartphones, landlines and letters, the film follows a small group of families as they cope with the universal anxieties of the pandemic.
Sportsnet and WWE have announced an expanded agreement to air live broadcasts of NXT on Sportsnet 360 and SN NOW every Wednesday night. In addition to NXT, Sportsnet 360 will continue to air WWE’s weekly flagship programs Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown, as well as WWE Main Event, and This Week in WWE. Sportsnet is also the exclusive distribution partner for WWE Network in Canada offering all WWE pay-per-view events and original series as a premium linear channel. In 2014, Sportsnet and WWE signed a 10-year broadcast agreement, making the network the exclusive distributor of WWE programming in Canada through 2024.
Canada Basketball and Sportsnet have committed to a multi-year partnership that will see the development and launch of several new national and international men’s and women’s basketball events in Canada, beginning in 2022. Next summer, a series of men’s and women’s events will debut including the inaugural U22 international tournaments for both women and men. Welcoming the top national federations in the world to Toronto, Canada Basketball will manage tournament logistics, event format, and team qualification, while Sportsnet will serve as exclusive broadcaster. Complementing the collaborative event production, Sportsnet and Canada Basketball are also teaming up to develop original content, including athlete-driven segments, social media takeovers, and stories at the intersection of basketball and Canadian music, art and culture.
Uninterrupted Canada, Par-Lay Content, and TSN are behind new original documentary Par-lay – The Fred VanVleet Story, profiling the Toronto Raptors star. Set to debut in fall 2021, the feature biopic will chart VanVleet’s rise to prominence as a basketball star and never-before-seen footage of his 2020 off-season and decision process behind signing the largest contract ever for an undrafted free agent. It will also look back at VanVleet’s time growing up in Rockford, Illinois, the challenges he faced avoiding the streets and his path to becoming a nationally-ranked NCAA recruit. In addition to holding the rights to the film’s worldwide premiere on TSN, Bell Media serves as domestic distributor in Canada. The international rights will be put to market later this year.
The National Film Board (NFB) has announced its objectives to improve diversity, equity and inclusion. A key step is the creation of a Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion position, a senior post responsible for equity and anti-racist practices. This new position will be a member of the NFB’s Executive Committee, reporting directly to the Commissioner, and work with all NFB divisions to implement the plan’s commitments and goals. There will also be a new Director of Indigenous Relations and Community Engagement, a position whose responsibilities will include forging closer ties with communities, improving Indigenous representation among NFB employees and advising the NFB on issues related to production and distribution of NFB works. The position will work closely with the NFB’s Indigenous Advisory Group and also report directly to the Commissioner. Across the NFB, hiring practices will be improved to ensure that by 2023, NFB staff fully reflect Canadian society. Read more, here.
NFB has greenlit 15 productions and co-productions, including new documentary, animation and interactive works. Among the projects are a digital artwork installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto and animated short, Hairy Legs, directed by Andrea Dorfman. Find more information on these and other projects currently underway on the NFB Production web page.
Telefilm Canada is conducting an online survey to gather information about training initiatives from across the country, including programs that support traditionally underrepresented creators. The survey data will be used to inform future training strategy at Telefilm from local grassroots initiatives and festival partnerships with streaming partners to national training schools and post-secondary institutions. The online survey is available for all mentorship or training programs in the audiovisual industry. All submissions must be completed by March 19.
The 16th Annual Vancouver International Women in Film Festival (VIWFF) will take place online March 4 -14, screening 32 films from 16 countries, including 14 Canadian films—with 10 from local BC filmmakers, and eight Vancouver digital premieres. Produced by Women in Film and Television Vancouver (WIFTV), each film program includes a Virtual Artist Talk. VIWFF is also presenting a slate of select livestream events, including an International Women’s Day panel (March 8) with government, industry organizations, and representatives from the Black Screen Office, Canada Media Fund, CBC, Creative BC, Hire BIPOC, the National Film Board, Telefilm Canada, and Women in View; a genre panel (March 9) featuring keynote Diana Williams of Kinetic Energy Entertainment and finalists from the WIFTV From Our Dark Side feature film project development incubator; and the Best of the Fest awards announcements.