TV & Film News – WGC recognizes writers behind Schitt’s Creek, Still Standing, Trickster

The Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) has handed out its 25th Annual Screenwriting AwardsAmong this year’s winners are Daniel Levy (Schitt’s Creek) in the Comedy Series category; Tracey Deer & Meredith Vuchnich (Beans) in Feature Film; Penny Gummerson (Trickster) for Drama Series; and Jonny Harris, Fraser Young, Graham Chittenden and Steve Dylan (Still Standing) in the Documentary category. Special Awards were also presented to Kate Hewlett (Everything is Funny), winner of the Sondra Kelly Award, and Travis McDonald (Magnificent), who was awarded the Jim Burt Screenwriting Prize. Morwyn Brebner, creator and showrunner of CBC series Coroner, was this year’s recipient of the WGC Showrunner Award. Find the full list of winners here.

Freshwater Production Studios is a proposed purpose-built film and television studio to be constructed on 24-acres in Greater Sudbury. In Phase 1, the 116,000 sq. ft. facility will feature three clear span soundstages (20,000 sq. ft., 20,000 sq. ft. and 18,000 sq. ft.) with 35’ ceilings, in addition to 23,000 sq. ft of production and soundstage offices we well as space for wardrobe, mill, and paint. The property is situated close to the Sudbury Airport, off Highway 17, in close proximity to Sudbury’s downtown core. It’s anticipated the studio will be ready for occupancy by Jan. 2023.

Bell Fund, Shaw Rocket Fund, and TELUS Fund, three Canadian Certified Independent Production Funds (CIPFs), have signed on to a pilot project aimed at driving the discoverability of Canadian content. ­­Spearheaded by Vancouver-based Magnify Digital, the Audience Development Pilot Project aims to share audience insights and standardize audience development requirements and reporting periods across the three funders. Magnify Digital’s new audience analytics platform, ViewerCentric, is a cornerstone of the initiative which aggregates and visualizes audience data from multiple sources to help producers track results. As the initiative progresses, ViewerCentric will build a database of audience analytics enabling insights and project performance benchmarks.

The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) has announced that The Paul Bronfman Family Foundation has joined Shaftesbury and AMC Networks as a Lead Supporter of The Norman Jewison Film Program. The foundation will invest $250,000 over five years toward the CFC’s signature program. A longtime friend and supporter of the CFC and a member of its Board of Directors, Paul Bronfman is the Chairman/CEO of Comweb Corp., Co-Chairman/Senior Advisor for William F. White International Inc., and Chairman of Pinewood Toronto Studios Inc. 

Telefilm Canada has announced the opening date for its Export Assistance Program, as well as changes made during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will open May 19 and close on Feb. 22 of next year, subject to availability of funds. In keeping with federal Travel Advice and Advisories, Telefilm is urging all Canadians to avoid non-essential travel and has amended program guidelines to exclude travel expenses from eligible costs. Guidelines, eligibility and assessment criteria are available on the program page.

Trailer Park Boys is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its premiere on Showcase on April 22, 2001. The show, that follows the misadventures of Ricky, Julian and Bubbles in Sunnyvale Trailer Park, has seen 13 seasons, three feature films, two animated series, two Out of the Park series, six specials and live concert tours throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand and North America. Trailer Park Boys Jail, the 13th season of the show, can be steamed via the Trailer Park Boys/Swearnet app. The TPB brand plans to celebrate its 20th Anniversary throughout the year with a roster of licensing partnerships from publishing to apparel as well as the release of NFTs of Trailer Park Boys’ characters. 

Black on the Prairies is a new multi-platform project led by CBC Saskatoon journalist Omayra Issa and CBC Radio host Ify Chiwetelu. It explores the history and present lives of Black people on the Prairies through their challenges, triumphs and contributions. Among those interviewed for the project was Saskatchewan Roughriders legend George Reed

Radio-Canada has announced its first-ever drama production written, directed and produced by Indigenous creators. Pour toi Flora, a miniseries consisting of six hour-long episodes, will premiere on ICI TOU.TV EXTRA in 2022 before its linear-TV broadcast on ICI TÉLÉ as well as APTN. Written and directed by Sonia Bonspille Boileau and produced by Jason Brennan for Nish Media, Pour toi Flora will examine the bitter legacy of residential schools in Quebec, inspired by true events and underscoring the innate resilience of uprooted children who persisted in the face of adversity. The series will be partly shot in Algonquin territory, with the support of the Kitigan-Zibi Indigenous community, in the fall of 2021 and winter of 2022. The lead cast members are Dominique Pétin, Marco Collin, Virginie Fortin, Samian and Mylène St-Sauveur, with Antoine Pilon, Théodore Pellerin and Eve Ringuette in supporting roles. Pour toi Flora will be presented in two languages on ICI TOU.TV EXTRA with the French-subtitled Anishinaabemowin version streaming for seven days before the original French version premieres. The miniseries will then be broadcast in prime time on ICI TÉLÉ and later on APTN.

Hot Docs has announced that mindfulness guru Dr. Deepak Chopra and his digital avatar, “Digital Deepak”, will participate in the opening night Q&A for Ann Shin’s documentary A.rtifical I.mmortality. The film, which features Chopra, explores the latest technological advancements in AI, robotics and biotech, posing the question: if you could live forever through AI, would you? The opening night Q&A is a free live event, and will be held Thursday, April 29, at 7:30 p.m. on the Hot Docs website at hotdocs.ca. 

Hot Docs is offering students currently enrolled in an accredited post-secondary institution and seniors 60+ a selection of free films during this year’s online festival, available to stream nationwide. Starting Friday, April 30, one film will be available each day at 10 a.m. on the Hot Docs website at hotdocs.ca, with a limited number of streams available for each film. The first selection of films includes the world premiere of The Story Won’t Die (May 2) about a rapper, tortured by Bashar Al-Assad, along with other exiled artists and performers who supported the Syrian uprising, exploring resilience and resistance through art, dance and music; and APART (May 4) which follows three mothers in the U.S. Midwest who return home from prison to rebuild their lives after years of separation from their children.

Super Channel and Quebec-based esports organization, Able Esports, have announced a new partnership to collaborate on a series of exclusive live esports events to air on GINX Esports TV Canada and Able Esports’ Twitch channel. The content will initially be focused on a series of Fortnite tournaments, culminating in the “Able Cup” to be broadcast live on GINX Esports TV Canada on May 15. GINX Esports TV Canada is Canada’s only 24-hour esports channel featuring live events, news, and gaming lifestyle programming from around the world.