Birks, the official jewelry sponsor of the Toronto International Film Festival, and Telefilm Canada announced the honourees for the annual Birks Diamond Tribute to the Year’s Women in Film. The Tribute celebrates Canada’s diverse film landscape by way of its storytellers on both sides of the camera. This year’s distinguished honourees include director Micheline Lanctôt; actors Wendy Crewson and Jean Yoon; screenwriter Marie Clements; and emerging directors Jasmin Mozaffari and Sophie Dupuis. Each honouree in the directing, acting, screenwriting and emerging talent categories will receive an honourarium from Birks to support their next project.
A pan-Canadian jury of 18 journalists and on-air personalities covering the world of art, culture and entertainment were entrusted to select the honourees. “It is inspiring to be in our 7th year of honouring among the best female talent in Canada at the Birks Diamond Tribute event,” said Christa Dickenson, Executive Director, Telefilm Canada. “This year’s honourees are telling our country’s powerful, touching and sometimes comical stories to the world, and we are looking forward to bringing them together to celebrate their incredible body of work.”
In addition to the internal selection committee, Telefilm and Birks calls upon ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists), the Association des réalisateurs et réalisatrices du Québec (ARRQ), the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC), the Société des auteurs de radio, télévision et cinéma (SARTEC), Union des Artistes (UDA), and the Writers Guild of Canada (WGC).
“We are very proud to have established a legacy of supporting Canadian female talent within the film industry,” said Jean-Christophe Bédos, President and CEO, Maison Birks. ”Our partnership with Telefilm Canada celebrates these women who are bringing a unique perspective to Canadian film creativity.”
Here’s a little more on each recipient:
Micheline entered the wonderful world of film animation in 1967, and after one year at the National Film Board of Canada, joined Potterton Productions where she worked first as an assistant, then as an animator for five years. She started out as an actress starring in Gilles Carle’s La Vraie Nature de Bernadette, the first Canadian actress to be in the official competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 1972. She then pursued both acting and animating for five more years. In 1979 she wrote and directed her first feature film, L’Homme à tout faire, selected at the prestigious Director’s Fortnight in Cannes. The film also won the Silver Medal at the San Sebastian Film Festival. She has written close to twenty screenplays, directed twelve feature films, including one feature documentary, written two novels, staged four plays, and has been working continually both as an actress in films and television, and as a writer-director for the past thirty years. In 2000, she received Quebec’s highest honor, le Prix Albert-Tessier for her work in films, and in 2003, she was one of the laureates of Canada’s Governor General’s Award. She has been teaching Acting and Directing for the Screen at Concordia University’s Mel Oppenheim School of Cinema in Montreal since 1981. She is currently working on her next feature, Sylvaine Ou L’esprit De La Forêt.
Wendy was the recipient of a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2015 and the ACTRA Earle Grey Award, given to fewer than 30 collective recipients since 1986, in recognition by ACTRA and the Canadian Entertainment Industry, for Lifetime Achievement in Television.
Her resume features more than 100 titles, including credits like: Sarah Polley’s indie feature Away From Her; The Vow, with Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum; the Winnie Mandela biopic Winnie, alongside Jennifer Hudson and Terrance Howard; and so much more. Wendy was also in the critically acclaimed, Oscar-nominated film, Room with Brie Larson; and appeared opposite Ellen Page in Patricia Rozema’s Into the Forest. On the small screen, Wendy recently starred in the CTV/ION series The Detail, for which she was just nominated for a 2019 CSA. She also recurs on the fun, period mystery Frankie Drake; the comedy Workin’ Moms, both on CBC; and in the AMC series The Son, opposite Pierce Brosnan. Wendy continues to be as busy as ever. She is currently shooting the third season of CBC’s popular series Frankie Drake, in addition to the first season of her new Hallmark series, When Hope Calls. She will be seen next in her recurring role on the upcoming Netflix series, The October Faction.
Jean began her theatre career in the early 1980s in Toronto performing with Upstage Theatre, Toronto Free Theatre and Canasian Artists Group. In the 1990s, Jean was active as a cultural equity advocate and new play producer. She was Cross Cultural Coordinator for Theatre Ontario 1991/92, and then Co-Artistic Director of Cahoots Theatre Projects 1992 to early 1994, founding Lift Off! and cementing Cahoots’ role as a leader in new play development for playwrights of diverse cultures. Jean’s stage credits include Necessary Angel, Young Peoples Theatre, Factory, Tarragon, Cahoots Theatre Projects, Crows, Civilized Theatre and Die in Debt. Jean originated the role “Umma” in the Toronto Fringe production of Kim’s Convenience in 2011 and performed the show at Soulpepper Theatre, The Grand Theatre London, National Arts Centre, Theatre Calgary, Theatre Aquarius, the Capitol Theatre in Port Hope, and the Pershing Square Signature Centre in New York. Jean is best known for her work on the CBC television adaptation of Kim’s Convenience, for which she has received the ACTRA Award for Outstanding Performance Female 2017, and two CSA nominations. Other screen credits include Orphan Black, Dragon Boys, The Expanse, Save Me and voicing Connie in the Emmy Award winning PBS show Peg + Cat.
Marie has ignited her brand of artistry within a variety of mediums including film, TV and live performance. Her feature drama Red Snow has recently been nominated for ten Leo Awards and will be released this fall. Her feature music- doc, The Road Forward, produced by the NFB premiered at Hot Docs opened the 2017 DOXA Documentary Film Festival, receiving five Leo Awards including Best Production, Best Director, and Best Screenwriter. The Road Forward has screened at over 300 venues in North America also receiving a Best Director Award at the North American Indian Festival in San Francisco, as well as a Writer’s Guild Nomination for Best Documentary Screenplay, the WFF Women on Top Award and the DGC BC Spotlight Impact Award in 2018. Her documentary Looking at Edward Curtis premiered at DOXA and The Yorkton Film Festival with four nominations for best documentary and premiered on Knowledge Network last summer. As a writer, director and producer her award-winning films have screened at Cannes, MOMA, VIFF, WIFF, the American Indian Film Festival and ImagineNATIVE Film Festival. Her play The Unnatural and Accidental Women will open the inaugural season of the National Arts Centre’s Indigenous Theatre in Ottawa this September, and her libretto Missing will be on a national tour with Pacific Opera Victoria this fall. MCM is an independent media production company owned and operated by Clements specializing in the development, creation and production of innovative works of media that explore an Indigenous and intercultural reality.
Jasmin is an award-winning Toronto-based writer/director who studied Film at Ryerson’s School of Image Arts. Beign recognized as an emerging director, a number of her short films including Firecrackers (2013), Wave (2015), and sleep on the tracks (2017) screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Vancouver International Film Festival and numerous other festivals across Europe and the US. Her debut feature film Firecrackers, based on the short, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018, and won Best Film in Competition at the Stockholm International Film Festival. The film went on to win 2 Canadian Screen Awards in 2019 including the award for Achievement in Direction. Variety proclaimed Jasmin as a “major talent” and Firecrackers was named a New York Times Critic’s Pick in 2019.
Sophie, an emerging director, is notorious for rattling audiences with her striking films. She tells disturbing, yet moving stories – sometimes dark but overall, filled with light. Exhibiting her prowess of interplaying tenderness and belligerence, she crafts canvasses of broken families and untamable characters. With her many short films that have garnered international success, Sophie quickly realized her love for actors whose performances have been acclaimed. Chien de garde, her first feature film, is a breathtaking blow-to- the-chest portrayal of impetuous characters caught in a whirlwind of violence. After winning the award for mise-en-scène at the Saint-Jean-de-Luz festival, witnessing her actors win for their work in her film, and receiving eight nominations at the Gala Québec Cinéma, including best film, best direction, and best screenplay, Sophie was selected to represent Quebec in the 2018 Oscars season. Sophie Dupuis is currently working on her second feature film Souterrain, which will focus on the world of mines.