This year’s leading Canadian Screen Awards nominees include a series about North America’s Black train porters in the 1920s and a coming-of-age film set in Scarborough.
The Black-led CBC and BET Plus series The Porter is the leading nominee with 19 nods heading into this year’s awards, including best drama series, best writing in a drama and best costume design.
Set in Montreal, Detroit and Chicago, the hour-long series that spotlights the railway workers’ pursuit of liberation boasts a largely Black Canadian creative team, including co-creator Arnold Pinnock and showrunners Marsha Greene and Annmarie Morais.
The Porter actors Aml Ameen, Ronnie Rowe Jr. and Mouna Traoré are all nominated for best performance in a drama.
Meanwhile, Toronto filmmaker Clement Virgo’s feature Brother, which is based on the novel by David Chariandy, is the leading film nominee with 14 nods, including best motion picture and achievement in direction for Virgo.
The adaptation, which dives into societal challenges facing Jamaican-Canadian brothers in 1990s Scarborough, debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival and made TIFF’s Top Ten list for 2022.
The film’s star Lamar Johnson is also up for performance in a leading role for his turn as a younger brother living in the shadow of a dynamic older sibling while taking care of his mother. The feature is set for a theatrical release on March 17.
Other major contenders for best motion picture include Stéphane Lafleur’s sci-fi dystopian drama Viking with 13 nods, David Cronenberg’s body horror Crimes of the Future with 11, and Anthony Shim’s immigrant drama, Riceboy Sleeps with six.
Two other top challengers in television include the CBC comedy Sort Of, and the kids’ series Detention Adventure, which are tied for the second-highest number of nominations at 15.
Sort Of, which follows a gender-fluid millennial navigating work and romantic relationships, is up for best comedy series and best lead performer for Bilal Baig for the show’s second season.
Performance nods for Baig and co-star Amanda Cordner, who is up for best supporting performer in a comedy, come after the actors chose not to submit for the 2022 awards due to the gender-binary classification system at the time.
The Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television has since implemented gender-neutral categories for lead and supporting film and TV roles. In this inaugural year, the change has shifted the number of nominations per performance category from five to eight.
The annual bash will hand out trophies in 145 categories for film, television and digital media, in genres ranging from kids programming to reality series to news. Special honours and fan choice bring the awards tally to 157.
On the TV news front, Global National News is up for best national newscast, competing with CBC’s The National, APTN National News and CTV National News with Lisa LaFlamme.
The nod comes following LaFlamme’s departure from CTV last August due to what Bell Media described as a “business decision” and which LaFlamme said left her “blindsided.” The ouster sparked a public outcry and a workplace review at the station.
LaFlamme is also nominated for best news anchor, an award she has won several times before, and she’s set to receive the Gordon Sinclair Award for broadcast journalism.
Actors Ryan Reynolds, Simu Liu and Catherine O’Hara are also among the special honourees.
In the digital media categories, the satirical show Revenge of the Black Best Friend is on top with nine nominations.
Created, co-written and co-produced by Amanda Parris, the series stars Olunike Adeliyi as a self-help guru who wants to end Black stereotypes in the film and television industry.
The most-nominated reality or competition program is Canada’s Drag Race with nine nods.
While awards will be handed out in person for the first time since the pandemic, the Academy announced earlier this month that the traditional live broadcast, which honours the best in film and television, will be replaced with a pre-taped special hosted by Samantha Bee.
The awards will be handed out at seven filmed but un-televised galas between April 11 and 14 with opportunities for winners to accept hardware and give speeches among their peers.
Winners will be made public throughout the week, leading up to the pre-taped telecast that will incorporate celebrity interviews and highlights from the galas. It will air April 16 on CBC and CBC Gem.
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