National Newswatch

‘Canada’s Drag Race’ an ‘educational experience’ at important time, say judges

Jul 1 2020 — Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press — TORONTO — When "Canada's Drag Race" starts its engines Thursday on Crave, it will be just as glittery and entertaining as the American version, say the judges. But with the camp and "condragulations" comes an added level of resonance, as the series arrives just after Pride month and Canada Day, and amid the Black Lives Matter movement's urgent calls for justice and more […]

‘American Woman’ director Semi Chellas hopeful ‘we’re in a moment of change’

Jun 30 2020 — Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press — TORONTO — From her vantage point in Los Angeles, Emmy Award-nominated writer-director Semi Chellas sees a great societal shift happening. The Canadian-American scribe says watching Black Lives Matter protests unfold near her home has turned a feeling of anguish from the COVID-19 pandemic into one of excitement and "this really hopeful feeling that we're in a moment of change." "I'm far from […]

Fewer crowd scenes, buffet bans: Productions building ‘very different world’ during COVID-19

Jun 29 2020 — Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press — TORONTO — Film and TV sets are traditionally a hive of activity: Crew members moving equipment. Craft services preparing food. Costume, hair and makeup artists primping stars. A team watching scenes from "video village," the nickname for the area around a monitor on set. "I can't tell you how many times I've been smooshed into the tiniest room in a […]

TIFF announces first batch of films while facing financial fallout from COVID-19

Jun 24 2020 — Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press — TORONTO — Drive-in screenings, virtual red carpets, a scaled-down slate: The curtain will still rise on this year's Toronto International Film Festival but it will be a much different affair than the usual annual movie marathon, as the COVID-19 pandemic presents logistical and financial challenges. On Wednesday organizers revealed plans for a physical and digital hybrid version of the prestigious festival, one […]

Bell Media renews ‘Transplant,’ ‘Jann’; says it’s working ‘to increase the representation of diverse voices’

Jun 23 2020 — Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press — TORONTO — New seasons of "Transplant" and "Jann" are among the shows bound for CTV as Bell Media navigates COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns and vows to increase representation and diversity in its content. The company announced its upcoming lineup on Tuesday, including a second season of the hit homegrown medical drama "Transplant," starring Hamza Haq as a Syrian doctor building […]

Many Canadian film and TV productions held up by lack of COVID-19 insurance

Jun 11 2020 — Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press — TORONTO — Reduced crowd scenes. Fewer people on set. COVID-19 testing. Handwashing stations. Those are some of the health and safety protocols Canadian film and TV producers are mulling over for their projects as provinces including British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec ease pandemic restrictions that shut down the industry in mid-March. But despite such measures, […]

‘#Blessed’ doc looks at millennial appeal of C3 Church in Toronto

Jun 3 2020 — Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press — TORONTO — With a trendy vibe, slick marketing and celebrity members, some Christian churches like Hillsong and C3 are preaching to a new generation of parishioners. But what is it about contemporary culture that has made these evangelical movements so appealing to some millennials, resulting in so-called megachurches offering a social-media-savvy type of spirituality? It's a question Toronto director […]

‘The Walrus and the Whistleblower’ profiles ‘walrus whisperer’ battle with Marineland

Jun 1 2020 — Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press — TORONTO — Growing up near Niagara Falls, Ont., Nathalie Bibeau was well familiar with the splashy spectacle of its zoo and amusement park Marineland. The director and producer from Welland, Ont., has photos of herself with her family petting animals at the popular tourist attraction, known for its aquarium shows and catchy theme-song chorus, "Everyone […]

‘Antigone’ wins five trophies, including best picture, at Canadian Screen Awards

May 28 2020 — Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press — TORONTO — The refugee drama "Antigone" was declared best motion picture on the final night of the Canadian Screen Awards as the film won five trophies, tying with "The Song of Names," which got the same amount. "Antigone" is a modern-day adaptation of the Greek tragedy and stars Nahema Ricci as a Montreal teenager who helps her brother escape from prison to […]

TIFF still planning some type of physical festival, execs say in ‘We Are One’ talk

May 28 2020 — Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press — TORONTO — Organizers of the Toronto International Film Festival say they're still planning to have some type of physical festival this year. But TIFF executive director and co-head Joana Vicente adds "it's definitely going to look different." Vicente spoke Thursday, along with TIFF artistic director and co-head Cameron Bailey, in a live video conference panel for We Are One: […]