|Canadian Film Awards|
|Awarded for||Best film productions in Canada|
The Canadian Film Awards were the leading Canadian cinema awards from 1949 until 1978. These honours were conducted annually, except in 1974 when a number of Quebec directors withdrew their participation and prompted a cancellation.
The award was first established in 1949 by the Canadian Association for Adult Education, under a steering committee that included the National Film Board's James Beveridge, the Canadian Foundation's Walter Herbert, filmmaker F. R. Crawley, the National Gallery of Canada's Donald Buchanan and diplomat Graham McInnes. The initial jury consisted of Hye Bossin, managing editor of Canadian Film Weekly; M. Stein of Famous Players; CBC film critic Gerald Pratley; Moira Armour of the Toronto and Vancouver Film societies; and Ian MacNeill from CAAE.
The first presentation was held on April 27, 1949 at the Little Elgin Theatre in Ottawa.
With only a handful of Canadian films released each year, they were generally a small affair. Unlike the eligibility rules for the contemporary Canadian Screen Awards, which are based on the film having already been screened theatrically in either commercial release or the film festival circuit, in the Canadian Film Awards era films, even if otherwise unreleased, were eligible for nominations or awards based solely on their submission to a dedicated Canadian Film Awards screening festival.
In 1957, The Globe and Mail columnist Ronald Johnson criticized the awards' publicity efforts, noting that even Bossin was not actually receiving the press releases and that many of the releases which were going out were being sent to journalists not involved in covering or reporting on film. The paper's film critic Jay Scott later described them as "honours given by presenters no one knew, to recipients no one recognized, to films no one had seen."
With very few feature films made in Canada at all prior to the 1960s, in some years no Film of the Year winner was named at all, with the awards for Best Short Film or Best Amateur Film instead constituting the highest honour given to a film that year. Even the award for Film of the Year, when presented at all, generally also went to a short film. The awards were also almost totally dominated by the National Film Board, to the point that independent filmmakers sometimes alleged a systemic bias which was itself a contributing factor to the difficulty of building a sustainable commercial film industry in Canada. Particularly in the 1960s, television films were also eligible for the awards; in 1969, in fact, no theatrical films were deemed worthy of the awards at all, and the nominees and winners consisted almost entirely of television films. Following the creation of the ACTRA Awards for television in 1972, however, television films were no longer commonly seen among the award nominees.
A separate award for Best Feature Film was instituted in 1964. Acting awards were introduced in 1968, and then expanded into separate categories for lead and supporting performers the following year.
In 1968, a bronze award statuette was designed by sculptor Sorel Etrog, and thereafter the award was often referred to as an Etrog Award. Two special awards, the John Grierson Award for outstanding contribution to Canadian cinema and the Wendy Michener Award for outstanding artistic achievement, were also added in later years.
In the 1970s, the organization frequently faced crises related to the francophone film industry in Quebec. This began in 1970, when filmmaker Jean Pierre Lefebvre threatened to withdraw his film Q-Bec My Love from the competition if the Ontario Censor Board did not withdraw its demand for the film to be edited. Several other filmmakers were also prepared to withdraw in solidarity, although provincial cabinet minister James Auld intervened to dissuade the board from insisting on the cuts.
In 1973, a number of Quebec filmmakers boycotted the awards, out of a perception that the organization had a systemic bias against francophone films. This protest resulted in the last-minute cancellation of the 1973 awards ceremony, with the winners announced only at a press conference, and the complete cancellation of the 1974 awards. When the awards returned in 1975, the eligibility period covered the entire two-year period since the previous ceremony in 1973; however, the awards committee revived the defunct Film of the Year category alongside the ongoing Best Feature Film award, so that two Best Pictures, one for each of 1974 and 1975, could be named. The 1973 awards were also criticized for the jury's choice of Slipstream as Best Feature Film over a field of four other much stronger nominees, with some writers later declaring that the film's victory, over enduring Canadian film classics such as Kamouraska and Réjeanne Padovani, essentially confirmed that the boycotting directors were correct in their beliefs.
After 1978, the awards were taken over by the new Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, and reorganized into the new Genie Awards. Despite the renaming, Etrog's statuette was retained as the design of the Genie statuettes. The Genie Awards continued to be presented until 2012, when the Academy merged them with its Gemini Awards program for television to create the contemporary Canadian Screen Awards.
When Academy publicist Maria Topalovich was preparing a history of the awards for publication in the early 1980s, she found that even the Academy itself had not received complete documentation of the awards' past winners and nominees in the takeover, and instead she had to undertake extensive archival research.
The following is a listing of all Canadian Film Awards Ceremonies.
|Ceremony||Date||Host(s)||Venue||Film of the Year||Feature Film (1964-78)|
|1949 Canadian Film Awards||April 27, 1949||Robert Winters||Little Elgin Theatre, Ottawa, Ontario||The Loon's Necklace||None awarded|
|1950 Canadian Film Awards||April 19, 1950||Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent||Little Elgin Theatre, Ottawa, Ontario||None awarded||None awarded|
|1951 Canadian Film Awards||April 22, 1951||Mary Pickford||Odeon Theatre, Ottawa, Ontario||None awarded||None awarded|
|1952 Canadian Film Awards||April 27, 1952||Sidney Earle Smith||Victoria Theatre, Toronto, Ontario||Newfoundland Scene||None awarded|
|1953 Canadian Film Awards||April 30, 1953||Jacques DesBaillets (with guest Dorothy Lamour)||Avenue Theatre, Montreal, Quebec||Tit-Coq||None awarded|
|1954 Canadian Film Awards||May 10, 1954||J. R. White (Imperial Oil president)||Kent Theatre, Montreal, Quebec||The Seasons||None awarded|
|1955 Canadian Film Awards||1955||No public ceremony||No public ceremony||The Stratford Adventure||None awarded|
|1956 Canadian Film Awards||August 6, 1956||Maurice Evans||Avon Theatre, Stratford, Ontario||None awarded||None awarded|
|1957 Canadian Film Awards||June 15, 1957||Leonard Brockington||King Edward Hotel, Toronto, Ontario||None awarded||None awarded|
|1958 Canadian Film Awards||June 21, 1958||Davidson Dunton||King Edward Hotel, Toronto, Ontario||City of Gold||None awarded|
|1959 Canadian Film Awards||June 5, 1959||W. J. Sheridan||King Edward Hotel, Toronto, Ontario||None awarded||None awarded|
|1960 Canadian Film Awards||June 3, 1960||Albert Trueman||King Edward Hotel, Toronto, Ontario||None awarded||None awarded|
|1961 Canadian Film Awards||May 13, 1961||Alphonse Ouimet||King Edward Hotel, Toronto, Ontario||Universe||None awarded|
|1962 Canadian Film Awards||May 26, 1962||Andrew Stewart||King Edward Hotel, Toronto, Ontario||None awarded||None awarded|
|1963 Canadian Film Awards||May 10, 1963||Jeanine Beaubien||Queen Elizabeth Hotel, Montreal, Quebec||Lonely Boy||None awarded|
|1964 Canadian Film Awards||May 8, 1964||Wayne and Shuster||Royal York Hotel, Toronto, Ontario||Pour la suite du monde||À tout prendre|
|1965 Canadian Film Awards||May 15, 1965||Max Ferguson||Westbury Hotel, Toronto, Ontario||None awarded||The Luck of Ginger Coffey|
|1966 Canadian Film Awards||May 6, 1966||Rich Little||Queen Elizabeth Hotel, Montreal, Quebec||The Mills of the Gods: Viet Nam||Mission of Fear (Le Festin des Morts)|
|1967 Canadian Film Awards||September 23, 1967||Fred Davis||Inn on the Park, Toronto, Ontario||Warrendale||Warrendale|
|1968 Canadian Film Awards||October 4, 1968||Bill Walker, Louise Marleau||Seaway Towers Hotel, Toronto, Ontario||A Place to Stand||The Ernie Game|
|1969 Canadian Film Awards||October 4, 1969||Fred Davis||Royal York Hotel, Toronto, Ontario||The Best Damn Fiddler from Calabogie to Kaladar||Vertige|
|1970 Canadian Film Awards||October 3, 1970||Bill Walker||Imperial Theatre, Toronto, Ontario||To See Or Not to See (Psychocratie)||Goin' Down the Road|
|1971 Canadian Film Awards||October 1, 1971||Leslie Nielsen||Royal York Hotel, Toronto, Ontario||None awarded||Mon oncle Antoine|
|1972 Canadian Film Awards||October 13, 1972||Jacques Fauteux||Ontario Place Cinesphere, Toronto, Ontario||None awarded||Wedding in White|
|1973 Canadian Film Awards||October 12, 1973||Press conference, no formal ceremony||Chevalier Theatre, Montreal, Quebec||None awarded||Slipstream|
|1975 Canadian Film Awards||October 12, 1975||No Ceremony in 1974|
|Peter Gzowski||Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario||The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz||Les Ordres|
|1976 Canadian Film Awards||October 21, 1976||Lorne Greene||CFTO-TV Studios, Scarborough, Ontario||None awarded||Lies My Father Told Me|
|1977 Canadian Film Awards||November 20, 1977||Gordon Pinsent||Hilton Harbour Castle Hotel, Toronto, Ontario||None awarded||J.A. Martin photographe|
|1978 Canadian Film Awards||September 21, 1978||John Candy, Catherine O'Hara||Ryerson Theatre, Toronto, Ontario||None awarded||The Silent Partner|
|Genie Awards from 1980|
|Ceremony||Date||Host(s)||Venue||Film of the Year||Feature Film (1964-78)|