Cardinal, Letterkenny among early winners at Canadian Screen Awards

The crime drama series Cardinal and small-town sitcom Letterkenny are among the early winners at the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto.

Cardinal: Blackfly Season stars Billy Campbell and Karine Vanasse both scored trophies for their roles on the series, which is filmed in northern Ontario.

“If there is a more professional and friendly and passionate place to make films, I just haven’t been there yet,” said Campbell in his speech, mentioning Sudbury and North Bay by name. “I’m a Yank and I’m particularly thankful to Canada these days.”

The annual show is the culmination of a week-long celebration which honours the best in Canadian film, TV, news and digital storytelling.

Letterkenny, a comedy about two friends living in a small Ontario community, won for its writing.

Major categories, including best comedy series, best drama series and best film, will also be presented at the gala event broadcasting live from the Sony Centre.

“It’s become a major industry in Canada,” said acting nominee Wendy Crewson, who has also appeared in major Hollywood films such as Room, Air Force One and The Doctor. “But the best thing is Canadian voices are distinctive and that’s what’s selling now.”

Anne with an E, starring Amybeth McNulty as Anne Shirley, is among the nominees for best drama series. (Chris Reardon)

On the film side, a number of French-language titles are in the running, including Une colonie (A Colony) and Chien de garde (Family First). Both were directed by women who are also nominated for achievement in direction — notable given the lack of female director nominees at this year’s Academy Awards.

Nominees in the main categories include:

Best motion picture

  • Chien de garde (Family First)
  • Dans la brume (Just a Breath Away)
  • Genèse (Genesis)
  • La Grande Noirceur (The Great Darkened Days)
  • Une colonie (A Colony)

Best drama series

  • Anne with an E
  • Bad Blood
  • Blood and Water
  • Frankie Drake Mysteries
  • Vikings

Best comedy series

  • Letterkenny
  • Mr. D
  • Schitt’s Creek
  • Second Jen
  • Workin‘ Moms

Stephan James, Deepa Mehta among special honourees

Special honours were given to comedian Mary Walsh. Walsh, a writer-actress-comedian well known for This Hour Has 22 Minutes, was acknowledged for her achievements with the Earle Grey award.

If Beale Street Could Talk star Stephan James filmmaker is receiving the inaugural Radius Award. According to the Canadian Academy’s website, it’s “in recognition of a Canadian in the entertainment industry for making waves globally.”

Stephan James, seen here at the Academy Awards in February, is being recognized with a special award for “making waves globally.” (Jordan Strauss/Invision/Associated Press)

James received a Golden Globe nomination earlier this year for his role on the limited series Homecoming and rose to prominence with the 2016 film Race.

DeepaMehta is receiving a lifetime achievement award.

The comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall, whose eponymous TV series ran from 1989-95, will receive the Academy Icon Award. 

From left: Scott Thompson, Dave Foley, Mark McKinney and Kevin McDonald are shown in a scene from, The Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town, which aired in 2010. (Michael Gibson/IFC/Associated Press)

Celebrating Canadian TV, film, media

At a pre-televised ceremony earlier on Sunday called the Cinematic Arts Gala, La Grande Noirceur (The Great Darkened Days) took home the most technical awards and Sarah Gadon won for her supporting performance in the film.

Oscar-nominated Animal Behaviour won best animated short. Its creators, Alison Snowden and David Fine, previously won an Academy Award in 1995 for their short Bob’s Birthday

Oscar-nominated Animal Behaviour, about a group therapy session for animals, took home best animated short at a pre-televised ceremony on Sunday. (Courtesy of NFB)

Earlier this week, dozens of other awards were given out to honour news, digital storytelling and various television series categories. Anne with an E, Cardinal: Blackfly Season, Schitt’s Creek, Baroness von Sketch Show, Letterkenny and Paw Patrol were among the many trophy recipients.

Much like the Oscars did this year, the CSA broadcast has opted to go without a host and instead will insert comedy bits as entertainment in between award presentations.

“One of the things we realized — and we realized it before the Americans did — is that the more we focus on our host and tap dancing and singing and telling jokes, the less we are focusing on the work we do here,” Martin Katz, the Academy of Canadian Film and Televison chair, said on the red carpet prior to the gala.

“So we said, ‘Why don’t we just do a bunch of sketch comedy, highlighting the comedy that people do here?'”

Other categories being presented Sunday, with winners to be updated in bold, include the following:

Performance by an actress in a leading role

  • Émilie Bierre, Unecolonie (A Colony)
  • Valeria Henríquez, The Padre
  • Rose-Marie Perreault, Les faux tatouages (Fake Tattoos)
  • Brigitte Poupart, Lessalopes ou le sucre naturel de la peau (Les Salopes or the Naturally Wanton Pleasure of Skin)
  • Carla Turcotte, Sashinka

Performance by an actor in a leading role

  • Martin DubreuilLa Grande Noirceur (The Great Darkened Days)
  • Paul Nutarariaq, The Grizzlies
  • Brandon Oakes, Through Black Spruce
  • Théodore Pellerin,Chien de garde (Family First)
  • Michael Rowe, Crown and Anchor

Best lead actress, comedy

  • Dani Kind, Workin‘ Moms
  • Annie Murphy, Schitt’s Creek
  • Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek
  • Catherine ReitmanWorkin‘ Moms
  • Cindy SampsonPrivate Eyes

Best lead actor, comedy

  • Gerry DeeMr. D
  • Jared KeesoLetterkenny
  • Daniel Levy, Schitt’s Creek
  • Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek
  • Jason PriestleyPrivate Eyes  

Best lead actress, drama series

  • Wendy CrewsonThe Detail
  • Caroline Dhavernas, Mary Kills People
  • Kristin Kreuk, Burden of Truth
  • Amybeth McNulty, Anne with an E
  • Melanie Scrofano,Wynonna Earp Space

Best lead actor, drama series

  • Aaron Ashmore, Killjoys Space
  • Yannick Bisson, Murdoch Mysteries 
  • Kim Coates, Bad Blood City
  • Eric McCormack, Travelers Showcase
  • Jerry O’ConnellCarter

Best lead actress, drama or limited series

  • KarineVanasseCardinal: Blackfly Season
  • Tori Anderson, Caught
  • Amy Matysio, Save Me
  • Mary Walsh, A Christmas Fury

Best lead actor, drama or limited series

  • Billy Campbell, Cardinal: Blackfly Season
  • Fab Filippo, Save Me
  • Allan HawcoCaught
  • Mark McKinney, A Christmas Fury

Best writing, comedy

  • Letterkenny (Letterkenny Spelling Bee), Jared Keeso, Jacob Tierney
  • Mohawk Girls (White but A’right), Cynthia Knight
  • Nirvanna the Band the Show (The Book), Andrew Appelle, Robert Hyland, Curt Lobb, Jay McCarrol, Matthew Miller, Jared Raab
  • Schitt’s Creek (Singles Week), Daniel Levy
  • Trailer Park Boys (F–kin’ F–ked Out Of Our F–kin’ Minds), JP Tremblay, Mike Smith, Robb Wells

Achievement in direction

  • Geneviève Dulude-DeCelles, Une colonie (A Colony)
  • Sophie DupuisChien de garde (Family First)
  • Jasmin MozaffariFirecrackers
  • Daniel Roby, Dans la brume (Just a Breath Away)
  • Maxime GirouxLa Grande Noirceur (The Great Darkened Days)

Best reality/competition program or series:

  • Big Brother Canada
  • Canada’s Smartest Person Junior
  • Knock Knock Ghost
  • MasterChef Canada
  • The Amazing Race Canada

Ted Rogers best feature length documentary

  • Anthropocene: The Human Epoch
  • Immaculate Memories: The Uncluttered Worlds of Christopher Pratt
  • Letter from Masanjia
  • La Part du diable (The Devil’s Share)
  • What Walaa Wants

The Canadian Screen Awards broadcast is airing on CBC-TV and CBC Gem streaming service at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 31.