Canadian Screen Awards Conclude In Style (+Photo Gallery)

March 10, 2014 Updated: March 13, 2014

TORONTO—The Canadian Screen Awards wrapped up in style on Sunday night as the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television honoured the best in Canadian film, television, and digital media. 

Comedian Martin Short hosted the Sunday televised gala held at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, while two more galas were held last week. 

Short entertained with his characteristic wry humour, poking fun at everything from Rob Ford, to the nominees, the cold weather, and Air Canada’s staff shortage.

In the film category, the inspirational French-language film Gabrielle was one of the night’s big winners garnering the coveted Best Picture award. A sweet coming-of-age story of a young woman with intellectual disabilities, Gabrielle expresses joie de vivre and the human ability to overcome prejudices. 

“It was an amazing human adventure, and it still continues now that the film travels everywhere. What people tell us a lot is that it’s about openness, open to differences,” said director Louise Archambault. 

Lead actress Gabrielle Marion-Rivard garnered the Best Actress award for her role. “Winning this award makes me smile,” she said later in the press room. 

Quebec actor Gabriel Arcand won Best Actor for Le démantèlment (The Auction), and said he was grateful for the lessons he got from the film. “I learned of a whole world that I wouldn’t have known anything about,” he told journalists referring to the life of the sheep-herders The Auction was inspired by. 

In the Best Director category, Denis Villeneuve won for his thriller Enemy, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Isabella Rossellini. The film, set to open in Canada on March 14, garnered five awards, including Best Supporting Actress for Sarah Gadon.

In a Q&A following the show, Villeneuve paid tribute to great directors, noting in particular David Cronenberg. “The thing I admire most about filmmakers is when they are able to have their own planet, when they are able to build their own world,” he said. 

Cronenberg was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by friend and collaborator Viggo Mortensen that evening, and while appreciative of the honour, the director made it clear he is by no means done working, joking that he is now aspiring to the after-lifetime achievement award. 

Other notable winners included Call Me Fitz, which garnered a Best TV Comedy award, as well as Best Actor and Best Actress wins for leads Jason Priestley and Tracy Dawson.

Priestley, known for his good guy image in Beverly Hills 90210, said he was happy at the opportunity to play what he called the “beautifully flawed character” of Fitz, while also being careful not to bring it home to his young children. Dawson also expressed her appreciation for the award, and hoped it would bring calls for more auditions in Canada. “I’m totally available,” she said in the press room.

Sci-fi series Orphan Black brought lead actress Tatiana Maslany a Best Actress in a TV Drama win, and also won for Best Dramatic Series. 

The Best Actor in a TV Drama award was taken by Hugh Dillon for Flashpoint

Rick Roberts and Sook-Yin Lee also garnered Best Actor and Best Actress in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series for their roles as the late NDP leader Jack Layton and wife Olivia Chow in the CBC biopic Jack.

Lee spoke to the press of the challenges and rewards of playing Chow who was often there to guide her on set. She admitted this was intimidating at times, but noted Chow was also very generous. 

“She’s an artist herself, and gave me a lot of room to interpret.” 

“Reality TV” was also honoured on Sunday night, with CTV National News’ Lisa LaFlamme winning Best News Anchor, Dragon’s Den getting the Reality TV series award, and Michael Bublé garnering Best Host for the 2013 JUNO Awards. 

Dragon’s Den executive producer Tracie Tighe attributed the success to the show’s practical and entertainment value, as well as years of hard work. 

Businessman Jim Treliving (L), one of the show’s Dragons, remarked it’s now common for people to pitch their ideas to him outside of the show. 

“You’re in the lobby, you’re in the airport, it doesn’t matter where you are, it’s happening all the time,” he said, adding that he was happy the show gives young people the chance to be entrepreneurs.

The young adult fantasy The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones won the Cineplex Golden Reel Award for earning the highest domestic box office gross last year. This is the 8th year that producer Don Carmody picked up the award who said he relies on gut instinct in choosing his films. 

“Having the audience at the edge of their seat, that’s what I’m all about,” said Carmody who also noted he appreciates comedy. 

City of Bones also won for achievement in makeup, overall sound, sound editing and visual effects.

Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais received the Claude Jutra Award for his darkly comedic drama Whitewash. The award, selected by a jury of filmmakers, celebrates the outstanding debut of a first-time filmmaker.

Thirty-three awards were presented on Sunday, with 90 more last Tuesday and Wednesday nights for a grand total of 123. 

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