2023 Canadian Screen Awards

I feel for the folks putting this event on. It takes place over a few days, with some TV and journalism awards handed out in advance of the film awards that are announced tonight, and television drama and comedy awards coming tomorrow.

My sympathies lie with the organizers because it always seems like it’s a struggle to get people to pay attention to what’s ostensibly the Canadian version of the Academy Awards and the Emmys, combined.

I think it’s fair to say that more people will be into the awards recognizing television series simply because they’ll have had a chance to see that programming.

It’s depressing, but this is the annual reminder that the average Canadian moviegoer would rather watch something like Top Gun: Maverick than pay money to see a Canadian movie in cinemas. Accordingly we get very few of them. I mean, I try and pay attention to this stuff because I’m interested in film and want to support the Canadian industry and artists, but there’s plenty of the nominees I haven’t seen. There are plenty I haven’t even heard of.

It’s a big problem and most people in the industry are too polite to talk about the issue because they don’t want to bite the hand that feeds — the government funding body, Telefilm.

If we can’t talk about it, how do we increase interest in seeing films by Canadian filmmakers in cinemas? The one way is to keep making quality pictures — which I’ve certainly been seeing recently with this one, this one, and this one, all playing on the big screen in this small Halifax market. That’s a great sign.

Casting bankable stars in genre films could get people to come out, but they’ve got to be better than this to be able to compete with Hollywood. I hope we get more crime thrillers and horror, cuz that usually works for cinemagoers.

But this needs to go a lot deeper than just what kind of movies to make, or who stars in them. The entire funding, production, and marketing structure of movies in Canada needs to be reexamined, and we need to get all the stakeholders into a room to talk about that central issue: How to get more Canadians interested in seeing Canadian cinema.

Will Cancon requirements in cinemas and streaming help? It did to help support the music industry and now we’ve got Drake and The Weeknd. Don’t tell me they’d be as big as they are if it wasn’t for Cancon. Maybe we could have a comparable cinema with more investment and regulation.

This evening is the film portion of the awards. Brother leads the pack with 14 nominations, including nods for Clement Virgo’s direction and Lamar Johnson in the lead role. (I might be cheering for Choi Seung-yoon, who was so good in Riceboy Sleeps, in cinemas now.)

The sci-fi comedy Viking has 13 nominations — hope to see that on the big screen — and David Cronenberg’s Crimes Of The Future — one of last year’s best films — coming in with 11.

If you want to check out the nominee list go here. I gotta say, while I recognize my cultural and geographical bias, I’m a little disappointed to see so little talent from Nova Scotia recognized. Fingers crossed for Rose Cousins and Breagh Isabel for their nominated song from Dawn, Her Dad, and The Tractor.

The various awards show highlights will be broadcast on Sunday in an hour-long special on CBC and CBC Gem hosted by Samantha Bee .

About the author


Carsten Knox is a massive, cheese-eating nerd. In the day he works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At night he stares out at the rain-slick streets, watches movies, and writes about what he's seeing.