TORONTO – As the film and TV industries grapple with a flood of sexual misconduct allegations, Sunday’s Canadian Screen Awards broadcast gala will give airtime to the homegrown #AfterMeToo campaign aimed at mobilizing reform on the issue.
Several recent awards shows have embraced the #MeToo and Time’s Up women’s empowerment movements with certain dress codes and remarks by hosts and guests.
The Canadian Screen Awards show won’t have a dress code but has given some commercial time to the #AfterMeToo group, which recently partnered with the Canadian Women’s Foundation to establish a fund for sexual violence support services.
The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, which puts on the show, also hosted two panels around the topic of sexual misconduct on Thursday as part of Canadian Screen Week.
The academy will also distribute #AfterMeToo pins on the red carpet for Sunday’s gala, which honours the best in homegrown film and TV.
“I hope that raises awareness of the fact that this is not just a U.S. industry issue, it does happen here, we need to keep talking about it and we need to be finding our own solutions to it,” said Beth Janson, the academy CEO.
“I appreciate the dress codes very much but I think that can also have the effect of sort of checking it off your to-do list, like, ‘Yep, I’m done, I wore black, I really supported my people and now let’s stop talking about it,'” she added.
“And I didn’t think it was the academy’s place to put a dress code into effect.”
The academy had hoped to have its own code of conduct unveiled in time for this week but Janson said they didn’t want it to get buried in the frenzy of the awards, so they’ll be “working on it more in-depth post-Canadian Screen Week.”
This year’s Canadian Screen Awards have boasted “solid slate” of female nominees, who include “Ava” director Sadaf Foroughi and cinematographer Sina Kermanizadeh. That film is nominated for a leading eight awards, including best picture, as is “Never Steady, Never Still” by Kathleen Hepburn.
Also up for eight awards is “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 ultimately didn’t make the short list.
Dozens of awards have already been handed out in galas leading up to Sunday’s big show. Winners have included CTV’s “Cardinal,” CraveTV’s “Letterkenny,” Global’s “Mary Kills People,” and CBC’s “Baroness von Sketch Show,” “Alias Grace” and “Schitt’s Creek.”
“One of the longstanding myths that I think exists is that people don’t want to watch Canadian content,” Janson said.
“I think … people won’t watch something just because it’s Canadian, but if you market it to them in the same way that you would market any other show with the same care and the same resources and it resonates with them, they will watch it.”
Jonny Harris of “Murdoch Mysteries” and “Still Standing,” and Emma Hunter of “The Beaverton” and “Mr. D” will co-host the show, which will air from Toronto’s Sony Centre of Performing Arts on CBC.
The set will have 220 screen tiles, curved glass and 540 light bulbs that bring “an art deco look and feel,” Janson said.
“You’ll see an extremely elegant look to the show that bumps it up a level from anything you’ve seen before in terms of sets and all of the elements that will be on the stage.”
Harris and Hunter are a departure from previous Canadian Screen Awards broadcast galas, which had one host who had international clout but didn’t necessarily live in this country.
“I really wanted a host that lived and worked here in Canada and could speak to our country and our industry in a very authentic way,” Janson said.
“Jonny, of course, knows Canada through his show ‘Still Standing.’ He’s probably one of the experts on small-town Canada, so I love that. And Emma, weekly, is talking about Canadian politics in a global context.”