TORONTO — This year’s Canadian Screen Awards will boast a “solid slate” of work from women, organizers said Tuesday as they unveiled the nominees and addressed how the MeToo and Time’s Up female-empowerment movements might factor into the upcoming show.
CBC/Netflix’s female-led Anne, featuring the plucky young heroine from Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic novel, nabbed a leading 13 nominations. They include best drama series for creators Moira Walley-Beckett and Miranda de Pencier, and best actress for star Amybeth McNulty.
Two of the leading film nominees are female-led: Ava by Sadaf Foroughi, and Never Steady, Never Still by Kathleen Hepburn. They each have eight nominations, tied with Hochelaga, Land of Souls by Francois Girard, which was Canada’s pick for the best foreign-language film category at this year’s Oscars, but didn’t make the short list.
“I think the best way to recognize the future that we’re trying to create for women in our industry is to recognize their work, and we have a solid slate of work from women directors, writers, actors up for nominations this year, which I’m really excited about,” said Beth Janson, chief executive of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.
“In our best-writing category for TV drama, there’s a woman in every nomination — four of them are women-only and one of them is a female-male team.”
As the industry grapples with sexual-misconduct allegations, Janson said the academy is working on creating its own code of conduct heading into the awards gala, which will be broadcast on CBC-TV on March 11 from the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto.
“We are first going to our members to get their input on what they think should be in the code of conduct,” Janson said.
“I think that it’s really important, in solving this issue, to solve it from the people on the frontlines who are dealing with this on a daily basis, rather than only from the legal experts who are seeing it with a bird’s-eye view.
“We’re developing a survey that’s going to go to our members on Monday, actually, and then we hope to have a code of conduct in place to reveal to our membership during Canadian Screen Week.”
Asked whether the show might have a female host, academy chairman Martin Katz would only say: “We’ve had female hosts in the past and I think we’re going to be very excited when we announce the host in the next few weeks.”
Other leading television nominees include CTV’s crime drama Cardinal and CBC’s family comedy Kim’s Convenience, which have 12 nominations apiece.
CBC’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel Alias Grace and its riches-to-rags comedy Schitt’s Creek have 11 nods each, while the CraveTV hoser comedy Letterkenny and CTV’s assisted-death drama Mary Kills People both have nine.
The nominees for best picture are: Ava, The Breadwinner, It’s the Heart That Dies Last, The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches, Maudie, Never Steady, Never Still and The Ravenous.
Maudie by Aisling Walsh and The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches by Simon Lavoie and Mathieu Denis are among the other leading film nominees, with seven nods apiece.
Actor Emma Hunter, who is nominated for her work on the TV series Mr. D and The Beaverton, said she’s “hoping for a lot more female wins” this year.
“There’s a lot of women nominated and I know we’re trying to do better as a nation. I just hope there’s a lot of attention around it,” she said.
“I think we can talk about it. I think everybody’s talking about it and I think as a country we have a responsibility to talk about it. So I hope it’s highlighted, at the very least, and I think it will be.”