I thought a great deal about what to say to you this evening. I thought of some funny things, a couple of cinematographer jokes that I could throw around… like Why don’t cinematographer’s smoke? Because it takes them 6 hours to light it… For obvious reasons I decided not to go that route.
Instead I thought back to growing up.
I thought about living in small town Nova Scotia. I thought about being a young man who hadn’t traveled anywhere yet. Who thought that the West Coast was an exotic land where arbutus trees grew and nobody needed to own a parka.
I thought of that young guy who spent most of his early life sitting at the Astor Theater in my town watching the images you people created dance across the screen.
I thought about what I learned about my own country watching the visions of people like Eugene Boyko and John Spotton and their colleagues… people who looked at our country and figured out a way to represent it honestly, on screens big and small.
For me the visions of Toronto in Goin’ Down the Road or Newfoundland in The Rowdyman, shaped the way but I thought about my country, and the way I thought about the people who lived in my country.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that the birth of the film and television industry in Canada in the 50s, 60s and 70s—and the subsequent birth of the Canadian Society of Cinematographers in 1957—coincided with a renewal of nationalism nationwide. For the first time Canadians were treated to beautiful, lifelike, moving, in depth portraits of places like Dawson City courtesy of cinematographers Wolf Koenig and Colin Low in City of Gold; or the icy chill of Montreal, captured by cinematographer Paul Leach in Don’t Let the Angels Fall and an all encompassing look at us in Across This Land with Stompin’ Tom Connors with cinematography by Peter Reusch.
Forget the railroad or the Trans Canada Highway, your images of what makes Canada and Canadians special are the things that really connected the country.
The camera has been called a time machine and when we look at the films shot by CSC members we see our past, but we also see a glimpse of our future. The pioneering work done by those men and women laid the foundation for the industry we celebrate tonight… In those images are the very essence of who we are as a people and the creative promise of the industry we work in today.