For the third year in a row, Telefilm Canada and Birks have partnered to celebrate Canadian women in film during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Nine Canadian women, film directors and actors who have made their mark this year have been selected by a pan-Canadian jury of arts, culture and entertainment journalists. The 2015 honourees of the Birks Diamond Tribute to the Year’s Women in Film are directors Sophie Deraspe; Anne Émond; Patricia Rozema; Kari Skogland; and Ingrid Veninger, as well as actors Katie Boland; Suzanne Clément; Catherine O’Hara; and Karine Vanasse. The recipients will be honoured on September 15 at the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto.
“2015 is another great year for Canadian women in film! These are remarkable individuals with major talent, who are much admired and who bring honour to our country,” said Carolle Brabant, Executive Director of Telefilm. “They have greatly distinguished themselves across the country and around the world in a variety of genres. We are proud to continue our partnership with Birks in order to spotlight the important contribution of Canadian women to the film industry.”
“It is an honour for Birks to highlight the talent and important contribution of Canadian women in film again this year,” said Eva Hartling, Vice President, Marketing & Communications of Birks Group Inc. “Much like Canadian diamonds who allow our country to shine beyond its borders, the nine women we recognize this year are a great example of Canada’s talent and leadership in the arts.”
Katie Boland, actor, was one of four Canadian actors named a TIFF Rising Star at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011. In 2013, she appeared in Gerontophilia by Bruce LaBruce, which had its world premiere at the opening night of Venice Days (Venice Film Festival), and in the award-winning comedy Sex After Kids by Jeremy LaLonde. In 2015, Katie most notably appears in Born to Be Blue by Robert Budreau, which has its premiere at TIFF.
Suzanne Clément, actor, won Best Actress for her role in Laurence Anyways by Xavier Dolan at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. In 2015, she received a Jutra and a Canadian Screen Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Mommy. She appears in Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre by Philippe Falardeau, which is screening at TIFF following its world premiere on the Locarno International Film Festival’s Piazza Grande, and in Early Winter by Michael Rowe, which will have its world premiere at Venice Days in September 2015.
Sophie Deraspe, director, recently completed The Amina Profile, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. It has since screened at more than 10 film festivals, including Hot Docs, where it won the Special Jury Prize for Canadian Feature Documentary. The filmmaker also directed Missing Victor Pellerin (2006) and Les Signes Vitaux (2009), which won 15 prizes from around the world.
Anne Émond, director, filmed Les Êtres chers, which recently premiered at Locarno. For her first film, Nuit #1 (2011), she took home the Claude-Jutra Award for best debut feature. It premiered at TIFF, where it received a Special Mention from the jury for Best First Canadian Feature Film, and was named Best Canadian Feature Film at the Vancouver International Film Festival.
Catherine O’Hara, actor, started her comedy career in 1974 as a cast member of Second City Television. An Emmy Award winner (1982), she has more than 90 TV and film credits to her name—including After Hours, Home Alone and Beetlejuice. In 2007, she was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame. In 2015, she appears in Schitt’s Creek and What Lives Inside.
Patricia Rozema, director, has directed some 20 films. This year she is presenting Into the Forest at TIFF. Her feature film debut, I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (1987), won the Prix de la Jeunesse at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight. The film was released worldwide becoming one of Canada’s most successful films, both critically and commercially. Her award-winning films include Mansfield Park (1999), When Night Is Falling (1995) and White Room (1990).
Kari Skogland, director, has more than 40 directing credits, among them the feature films Stone Angel (2007) and 50 Dead Men Walking (2008). Her impressive TV credits include major international coproductions such as Vikings and The Borgias. This year she directed the mini-series The Sons of Liberty and episodes for the Tyrant and Penny Dreadful series.
Karine Vanasse, actor, is popular on both sides of the border. In 2015, she appeared in Forbidden Room by Guy Maddin, which had its world premiere at Sundance. Her award-winning film roles include Polytechnique (2009), which she also produced; Séraphin: Heart of Stone (2002); and Set Me Free (1998). On television, she is well known for roles in the U.S. series Pan Am and Revenge.
Ingrid Veninger, director, began her career as an actor before writing and directing her own shorts and features. Ingrid most notably directed The Animal Project (2013), which screened at some 20 international festivals and won the EDA Award at the Whistler Film Festival; i am a good person/i am a bad person (2011), which won the Toronto Film Critics Association’s Jay Scott Prize; and Modra (2010), which was selected to TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten for the year.
The pan-Canadian jury is made up of renowned journalists covering arts, culture and entertainment: Jason Anderson (Cinema Scope), Katie Bailey (Playback), Linda Barnard (Toronto Star), Richard Crouse (Metro), Maxime Demers (Le Journal de Montréal), Manon Dumais (freelance journalist), Noreen Flanagan (Elle Canada), Teri Hart (Entertainment City), Tanya Lapointe (Radio-Canada), Marc-André Lussier (La Presse), Bernadette Mora (Fashion Magazine), Katherine Monk (The Ex-Press), Herby Moreau (herby.tv), Andrea Nemetz (The Chronicle Herald), Ingrid Randoja (Cineplex Magazine), Kiva Reardon (freelance journalist), Johanna Schneller (The Globe and Mail), Cassandra Szklarski (The Canadian Press) and Odile Tremblay (Le Devoir).
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.