Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rogers Best Canadian Film Award rises to $100,000

In an unprecedented act of support for Canadian cinema, Rogers Communications has made the TFCA’s Rogers Best Canadian Film Award by far the country’s richest film prize. The director of the winning film, voted by members of the TFCA, will receive $100,000 from Rogers. The two runners-up will each receive $5,000.

The winner will be announced at the 16th annual TFCA Awards, a gala dinner held in Toronto at the Carlu on Tuesday, January 8, 2013. The Rogers Best Canadian Film Award will be presented by actor/writer/director Don McKellar, whose own awards include three Genies, a Tony—and the TFCA honour for Best Canadian Film for his 1998 feature directing debut, Last Night. Once again, the event will be hosted by Cameron Bailey, artistic director of the Toronto International Film Festival.

"We are enormously grateful to Rogers for taking such a bold initiative,” said TFCA President Brian D. Johnson, film critic for Maclean’s. “This exemplary cash prize gives our cinema pride of place at the country's top tier of arts awards. It represents a tremendous vote of confidence in Canadian filmmakers, and in the discerning role that Toronto's robust community of film critics can play in recognizing and rewarding brilliance."

Rogers became the founding sponsor of the TFCA Awards Gala five years ago.  “We are pleased to support content creators in this country through this prize,” said Phil Lind, Vice Chairman, Rogers Communications.  “Canadian film is competing on the world stage and with this extraordinary prize we hope to inspire this community to reach even higher.”

The TFCA also welcomes three new sponsors: Manulife Financial, Cineplex Media, and Shangri-la Hotel.

The Manulife Financial Student Film Award will carry a $5,000 cash prize, presented to a short film that the critics will select from student entries submitted by film programs at Humber CollegeRyerson UniversitySheridan College and York University.

Deluxe will sponsor the TFCA’s Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist, presenting a cheque for $5,000 plus an equivalent value in post-production services.

The TFCA is extremely grateful to founding sponsor Rogers Communications Inc, and welcomes back its returning sponsors: Maclean’s magazine, the Globe and Mail, Moet & Chandon, Ontario Media Development Corporation, Cineplex Entertainment, Deluxe, MacLaren McGill and the Carlu.

The TFCA Awards gala will take place in the art-deco Round Room of the historic Carlu, with cuisine provided by chef Mark McEwan, whose career has ranged from the stellar kitchen of North 44 to his current role as head judge on TV’s Top Chef Canada

The TFCA honours films, directors, writers and actors in the main Oscar categories. The full slate of TFCA Awards, as voted by the members, will be announced in a press release on Tuesday, December 18, 2012—with the exception of the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award. The three finalists for that prize will be announced Dec. 18, with the winner being revealed at the awards dinner Jan 8, 2013.

Please note: under the TFCA’s guidelines, contenders eligible for the awards include films released in Toronto in 2012 plus films that qualify for the 2012 Oscars and have a Toronto release scheduled by the end of February 2013.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ian Caddell, 1949 - 2012

If a friendship can be forged on differences, it speaks to my relationship with Ian Caddell – and the irony of (rightly) lionizing him for the Toronto Film Critics Association.

Ian was born in Montreal and created a rich life for himself in Vancouver (though never in the financial sense) – two cities that could hardly be further apart on many fronts. But it was in his DNA from both places to have an almost comical antipathy towards Toronto.

It was always cruel fun to get him started on a rant about the Big Smoke (with no rancor invested on my end because I love both Montreal and Vancouver). With the mildest jibes, I could also easily get Ian to rise to defense of the Vancouver Film Festival or the Vancouver Critics’ Film Circle (which he co-founded). He even loved the Vancouver Grizzlies.

To even things out, I also indulged his parochialism. One of our most fun days together saw us slip away from a New York junket, get on a subway to Queens and catch a game at Shea Stadium between the Mets and his beloved Expos – complete with a lengthy discourse on the various cosmic injustices that had been done to the ‘Spos over the years, and the World Series that would have been theirs had Major League Baseball not enforced a lockout during their most golden summer.

And yet, many of Ian’s best friends in the business were Toronto-based. And he was, of course, a regular sight at TIFF for more than a decade. That was business, and knowing Ian gave me an insight into the cruel practicality of the life of a freelancer. TIFF to him was a crucial component of his annual income – scores of interviews that could be sold at x-hundred dollars a pop. The same was true of the studio junket circuit, each one an exercise in numbers-crunching in support of the weird alchemy that saw him raise five sons who never left home, and of whom he was always immensely proud.

Sure, at times in his life, Ian had a “job” – most notably as executive editor of the industry mag Reel West. But mostly he had clients, who gladly accepted his work and may or may not have always paid full value. The Georgia Strait, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, even (and I smile as I try to imagine this) CBC’s Good Rockin’ Tonight.

Somehow, with perennially-strained finances, he bought a house, raised his sons - as a single dad in his last several years, though towards the end with almost-angelic support from his girlfriend Anja.

Practicality and duty dictated that he continue to work, even after bouncing back from near-death once (in 2011 he spent several weeks kept alive by feeding and breathing tubes).

He continued to attend junkets in 2012, gambling with health insurance and at one point administering his own oral chemotherapy while in L.A. One night at dinner (which he could no longer taste), he described the reality of his condition in clear-eyed terms. He probably wouldn’t be here in a year, “but I don’t have a choice, I have to keep going.”

When he didn’t show up at TIFF this year, I knew his situation had to have turned grave. As much as he could hold forth with his opinions, Ian was immensely kind and fiercely loyal. He would brook no malicious gossip in his presence about anyone he called a friend.

And that put a lot of people on the not-to-be maligned list. A remarkably large and disparate group of people called Ian Caddell a friend. They are all one good friend poorer after this week.

- Jim Slotek