Changes for 2015 Canadian Screen Awards

A still from Watermark ©Edward Burtynsky,
courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto / Howard Greenberg & Bryce Wolkowitz, New York
They listened! The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television announced some notable changes for the next edition of the Canadian Screen Awards. The awards, which are only in their third year as a combined celebration of  film, TV, and digital media, have revised the rules and categories in order to improve the ceremonies as they progress. This year's changes include some notable additions for documentary craft including Best Cinematography and Best Editing in a Feature Length Documentary. Previous editions of the CSAs restricted eligibility for docs to the Best Feature Length Documentary award alone, and the lack of recognition for documentary crafts even received a comment from Sarah Polley accepted the doc prize for 2012's Stories We Tell. This is a great step for the Canadian Screen Awards., especially since Canuck docs frequently include outstanding artistic and technical work, such as last year's winner Watermark, which could have had a cinematography win in the bag for Edward Burtynsky.

Even more significant among the rule changes is a new guideline that requires films that use festival screenings to qualify for the awards to confirm their intention to screen theatrically before the Canadian Screen Award ceremony. This essentially mirrors the need for a film to have a qualifying run for the Academy Awards before the end of the calendar year prior to expanding a theatrical release to capitalize on awards buzz. This change in the CSA rules still allows for Canadian films of modest means to be eligible for awards consideration using the festival circuit; however, it also preserves the integrity of the awards because films are less likely to manipulate the rules in the name of earning hardware over films of legitimate eligbility.

The most recent edition of the CSAs featured a number of feature films that did not open theatrically prior to the award ceremony, which put a damper on the proceedings. Best Picture nominees Enemy, The Grand Seduction, and Maïna opened after the awards (long after in the case of the latter two), while The F-Word doesn't even open until August. The new rules ensure that more Canadians will be able to see the films before the awards, which in turn lets audiences celebrate the quality of the films and generate some added buzz for the awards. The pleasure of award shows, after all, is checking off the nominees and debating the films with friends!

The new rules and regulations include additions and changes to the TV and digital categories as well, which may be found on the Academy's website. All in all, I'm very happy with these improvements from the Academy!