@ TIFF 2014: Tribute to Ten Canadian Women in Film

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Ten Canadian women directors and actors who have had an outstanding year are being honored at TIFF 2014 on September 18 with the Birks Diamond Tribute, presented by Telefilm Canada and Birks (a Canadian jeweler). The honorees have been selected by a pan-Canadian jury of journalists specializing in the arts, culture and entertainment. Who are they and what have they accomplished? Read on…

The Honorees:

Jennifer Baichwal, documentary director and producer, co-directed Watermark, which rated as a New York Times Critics’ Pick and took home the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award presented by the Toronto Film Critics Association, as well as the Canadian Screen Award and the Ted Rogers Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary.

Ric Esther Bienstock is a documentary director and producer, whose credits include Tales from the Organ Trade, which was nominated for two Emmy Awards. The film received the Global Awareness Award and the intermedia-globe Gold Award at the WorldMediaFestival in Germany and the Golden Sheaf Award for Social/Political Documentary at the Yorkton Film Festival.

Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Inuit director and actor Madeline Piujuq Ivalu co-directed Uvanga, which screened at 14 festivals across Canada and around the world. Their debut co-directorial effort, Before Tomorrow (2008), received the CityTV Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival and nine Genie Award nominations, including Best Motion Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress (Madeline Piujuq Ivalu).

Anne Dorval, a popular film and television performer, is one of Xavier Dolan’s favourite actresses, notably starring in his international hit film Mommy. Last year, she also appeared in the films The Rooster of St-Victor and Miraculum and in the television series Les Parent.

Tatiana Maslany, actor, was notably acclaimed for her role in Orphan Black, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination and the 2013 and 2014 Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series. She also appeared in the series Cracked and starred in the film Cas & Dylan.

Sophie Nélisse, actor, attracted attention in The Book Thief, which earned her several prestigious nominations for such a young performer as well as the 2013 Hollywood Spotlight Award. She will also be remembered for her performance in Monsieur Lazhar, nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. She is currently shooting the film Pawn Sacrifice.

Molly Parker, actor, who garnered acclaim for her role in House of Cards, also appeared in the series Deadwood and The Firm. Her credits include many films for cinema and television, including the 2013 Canadian feature Hold Fast.

Nancy Florence Savard, writer, director and producer, directed the first Canadian 3D animated feature film, The Legend of Sarila, which has been sold in 20 territories around the world and was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award and two Jutra Awards. She also recently produced the feature The Rooster of St-Victor.

Cobie Smulders, star of How I Met Your Mother, played opposite Vince Vaughn in Delivery Man, the American remake of Starbuck. In 2014, she appeared in the films Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Lego Movie and They Came Together. She is the star of The Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise.

The Jury

The pan-Canadian jury is made up of renowned journalists covering the arts, culture and entertainment: Katie Bailey (Playback), Linda Barnard (Toronto Star), Maxime Demers (Le Journal de Montréal), Manon Dumais (freelance journalist), Noreen Flanagan (Elle Canada), Teri Hart (The Movie Network), Brian Johnson (Maclean’s), Tanya Lapointe (CBC/Radio-Canada), Marc-André Lussier (La Presse), Katherine Monk (Postmedia), Andrea Nemetz (The Chronicle Herald), Odile Tremblay (Le Devoir) and Marni Weisz (Cineplex Magazine). Note that Linda Barnard and Katherine Monk are AWFJ members.

The jury selected the women to be honoured based on the impact of their work and their talent, the recognition they have received from respected organizations and their peers, and the visibility they generated for Canada this past year. Nominees were also required to have either directed or appeared in a production during that year.

The Tribute Sponsors:

Telefilm Canada is dedicated to the cultural, commercial and industrial success of Canada’s audiovisual industry. Through its various funding and promotion programs, Telefilm supports dynamic companies and creative talent here at home and around the world. Telefilm also administers the programs of the Canada Media Fund.

Birks Group is a leading operator of 51 prestige jewelry stores in Canada and the United States. The company operates 30 Birks stores located in most of Canada’s major urban areas, 18 Mayors stores in Florida and Georgia, two Brinkhaus stores in Calgary and Vancouver and one Rolex store in Orlando, Florida. Founded in 1879, Birks has over the years become one of Canada’s leading retailers, designers and manufacturers of high-end jewellery, watches, sterling and silver-plated silverware, as well as gifts.

2013 Birks Diamond Tribute

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and About.com. She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association in the Film, Documentary and TV branches and a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).