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Canadian Talent Sparkles at the Sixth Annual Birks Diamond Tribute to the Year’s Women in Film

by ahnationtalk on August 20, 2018410 Views

August 20, 2018

·    A total of six honourees will be recognized: one director, two actresses, one screenwriter and two emerging talent
·    All honourees will receive a cash award from Birks

Montreal/Toronto, August 20, 2018 – Birks and Telefilm Canada today announced the honourees for the sixth annual Birks Diamond Tribute to the Year’s Women in Film. The Tribute, which has become a must-attend industry event during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), celebrates Canada’s diverse film landscape by way of its storytellers on both sides of the camera. This year’s distinguished honourees include director Nettie Wild; actors Tantoo Cardinal and Pascale Bussières; screenwriter Susan Coyne; and emerging directors Stella Meghie and Jeanne Leblanc.

New this year, each honouree in the directing, acting, screenwriting and emerging talent categories will receive a cash award from Birks. The emerging talent category, another new addition of this year’s event, was created to recognize the Canadian filmmakers who are making a splash early in their careers.

Birks and Telefilm Canada will celebrate the honourees at a private event on Monday, September 10 at The Atrium @ Ricarda’s (134 Peter Street) in downtown Toronto. A pan Canadian jury of 23 journalists, bloggers and on-air personalities covering the world of art, culture and entertainment were entrusted to select the honourees.

“This year in particular we are very proud to be supporting Canadian female talent within the film industry,” said Eva Hartling, Vice President, Birks Brand and Chief Marketing Officer. “Our annual event in partnership with Telefilm Canada highlights the diversity and power that is setting a new standard both in Canada and abroad. We applaud this year’s honourees and look forward to celebrating their well-deserved recognition.”

“Since the inaugural year of the Birks Diamond Tribute, we have had the privilege of spotlighting the illustrious careers of female storytellers from across the country,” said Christa Dickenson, Executive Director, Telefilm Canada. “This year’s recipients are truly inspirational, representing both the diversity and depth of talent in our industry, and stand as examples that other women can aspire to.”

This year’s group of honourees join the ranks of Birks Tribute alumni including: Jennifer Baichwal, Evelyne Brochu, Amanda Brugel, Caroline Dhavernas, Emma Donoghue, Sarah Gadon, Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs, Mylène Mackay, Tatiana Maslany, Deepa Mehta, Alanis Obomsawin, Sandra Oh, Catherine O’Hara, Sarah Polley, Léa Pool, Patricia Rozema, Mina Shum, Karine Vanasse, Sherry White, Ellen Wong, among others.


Nettie Wild, director, is one of Canada’s leading documentary filmmakers. Her highly charged and critically acclaimed films have brought her audiences behind the frontlines and have inspired social change around the world.  Her more recent work has gained recognition for forging new frontiers in storytelling on the big screen, on the web and in large-scale public installations. Nettie’s latest feature KONELĪNE: our land beautiful won Best Canadian Documentary at the 2016 Hot Docs International Film Festival for its use of art to explore one of the most controversial topics of our time.  In 2017, Nettie and her team created Uninterrupted a cinematic spectacle using digital mapping to project images of the sockeye migration right across Vancouver’s Cambie Street Bridge.  Uninterrupted was a critical and popular success, lauded by the international art mag Wallflower* as one of 2017’s must-see projections in the world. Nettie is well known for her award winning documentary features including FIX: The Story of an Addicted City (2002), A Place Called Chiapas (1998), Blockade (1993) and A Rustling Of Leaves: Inside The Philippine Revolution (1988).  Her films have won the Genie Award (twice) for Best Feature Documentary in Canada, Best Feature Documentary from the International Documentary Association as well as top honours from the Forum of New Cinema at the Berlin International Film Festival.  In 2010 she received the BC Film Critics Circle Award for her contribution to the film industry and the Vancouver Sun named her as one of British Columbia’s most influential women.


Tantoo Cardinal, actor, was recently honoured with the Canadian Academy’s Earle Grey Award at the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards, honouring her extensive contributions to film and television. She is also a Member of the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest civilian honours, recognizing Cardinal for her contributions to the growth and development of Aboriginal performing arts in Canada. Arguably the most widely recognized Indigenous actress of her generation, Cardinal has appeared in well over 120 film and television projects over the course of her 40-year career, including Legends of the Fall, Dances With Wolves, Black Robe, Loyalties, Luna, Spirit of the Whale, Unnatural & Accidental, Marie-Anne, Sioux City, Silent Tongue and Mothers & Daughters. Her recent work includes Godless, continuing roles on the series Westworld, Longmire, Frontier and Mohawk Girls. Cardinal has won a number of awards for her performances, including a Gemini for North of 60, a Leo Award for Blackstone and an American Indian Film Festival Best Actress award for Where the River Flows North. Other awards include the ACTRA Award of Excellence, the Rudy Martin Award for outstanding achievement by a Native American in film, Harvard’s Sun Hill Award for excellence in Native American filmmaking and the Peter Ustinov Award from the Banff Film Festival.

Pascale Bussières, actor, first attracted attention at the age of 13 in the film Sonatine. Her performance as Chantal earned her a nomination for Best Female Performance at the 1985 Genie Awards. In 1993, she appeared in the mini-series Blanche, garnering several awards for the title role. This success was followed by equally notable performances in such popular series as Le cœur a ses raisons, La princesse astronaute, Belle-Baie, Mirador, Race to Mars, En thérapie, Les bobos and Prémonitions. In 1993, Pascale returned to the big screen in the film Deux Actrices (Two Can Play). In 1994, she starred in the full-length feature film Eldorado, which became a huge box-office success, and followed this up with her first role in an English-language feature film, Patricia Rozema’s When Night Is Falling. In 1996, she was cast in Jean-Michel Roux’s Les mille merveilles de l’univers, Denis Villeneuve’s Un 32 août sur terre (August 32nd on Earth) and Léa Pool’s Emporte-moi (Set me Free). In 1999, she appeared in French filmmaker Anne-Sophie Birot’s Les jeunes filles ne savent pas nager and Attila Bertalan’s Between the Moon and Montevideo. The following year, she starred successively in director Alan Moyle’s Exchange and Catherine Corsini’s La Répétition. In 2005, Pascale Bussières was honoured with the Prix Jutra (Best Actress) and Genie Award (Best Female Performance) for her role in the film Ma vie en cinémascope. Two years later, she appeared in the film Afterwards, followed by the independent film Nothing Really Matters. In fall 2015, audiences saw her in Anna and the film Ville-Marie alongside Monica Bellucci. Her most recent films include Nous sommes les autres, Innocent and Justice Dot Net.


Susan Coyne, screenwriter, was the co-creator and co-writer of the acclaimed mini-series Slings and Arrows, for which she won three Geminis and three Writers Guild of Canada awards. Slings and Arrows also had a second run in the US on the Sundance Channel, where it was a critical and audience favourite. In 2009 a Brazilian adaptation of the series, titled Som é Furia, was nominated for an international Emmy. With Martha Burns, she directed Robin and Mark and Richard III, a documentary about the late theatre director Robin Phillips, which premiered at the HotDocs cinema. Her recent feature The Man Who Invented Christmas starred Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) as Charles Dickens and Oscar-winner Christopher Plummer as Ebenezer Scrooge. Ms. Coyne recently wrapped her second season as a Supervising Producer on Amazon Studios’ Golden Globe-winning series Mozart in the Jungle. She also wrote two of the three Anne of Green Gables MOWs produced by Breakthrough and YTV. This year, Ms. Coyne was awarded the Order of Canada in recognition of her contribution to Canadian culture.


Stella Meghie, emerging director, premiered her debut comedy feature Jean of the Joneses, a portrait of a squabbling Jamaican-American family, at South by Southwest and went on to play at TIFF in 2016. The film earned Meghie a Best First Screenplay nomination at the 2017 Independent Spirit Awards. Meghie adapted the best-selling Nicola Yoon novel Everything, Everything for MGM/Warner Bros. The film grossed over $60 million worldwide and earned her an NAACP Image Awards nomination for Best Director. Next up, Stella will direct her original script The Photograph with Will Packer producing at Universal Pictures.

Jeanne Leblanc, emerging director, studied cinema at the University of Quebec in Montreal. Over the last few years, she has directed close to ten short films that have distinguished themselves in several international festivals. In 2017, she directed her first feature film, Isla Blanca, a semi-biographical work that invites the audience to an intimate and poetic drama. Jeanne is currently in preparation for her second full-length feature film titled Les nôtres.

Nomination process and jury
In addition to an internal selection committee, Telefilm and Birks called upon the following organizations to be part of the nomination process for the Birks Diamond Tribute to the Year’s Women in Film (in alphabetical order): ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists), the Association des réalisateurs et réalisatrices du Québec (ARRQ), the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC), the Société des auteurs de radio, télévision et cinéma (SARTEC), and the Writers Guild of Canada (WGC).

A 23-member jury was tasked with the selection of this year’s honourees. The pan-Canadian jury is made up of the following journalists, bloggers and on-air personalities covering the world of art, culture and entertainment: Victoria Ahearn (The Canadian Press), Ilana Banks (CBC), Linda Barnard (freelance), Catherine Beauchamp (Tapis Rose), Martin Gignac (Journal Métro), Liz Braun (Sun Media/Postmedia Network), Richard Crouse (CTV Pop Life), Manon Dumais (Le Devoir), Helen Faradji (Radio-Canada), Noreen Flanagan (Fashion Magazine), Isabelle Fleury (Radio-Canada), Dana Gee (Global TV), Teri Hart (CityTV), Peter Knegt (CBC), Katherine Monk (CBC/, Sylvie Mousseau (Acadie Nouvelle), Ryan Porter (freelance), Ingrid Randoja (Cineplex Magazine), Regan Reid (Playback), Alex Rose (Cult MTL), Marci Len (The Social), Radheyan Simonpillai (NOW Magazine), and Will Wong (Mr. Will Wong).

About Telefilm Canada—See bigger.
Telefilm is dedicated to the cultural, commercial and industrial success of Canada’s audiovisual industry. Through funding and promotion programs, Telefilm supports dynamic companies and creative talent at home and around the world. Telefilm also makes recommendations regarding the certification of audiovisual treaty coproductions to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, and administers the programs of the Canada Media Fund. Launched in 2012, the Talent Fund accepts private donations to principally support emerging talent. Visit and follow us on Twitter at and on Facebook at

About Birks
Founded in 1879, Birks has over the years become one of Canada’s leading retailers, designers and manufacturers of high-end jewellery, watches, sterling and silver-plated silverware, as well as gifts. Birks Group is a leading operator of luxury jewellery stores in Canada and southeastern United States. The Company operates 26 stores under the Birks brand in most major metropolitan markets in Canada, 16 stores in Florida and Georgia under the Mayors brand, one store under the Rolex brand name and two retail locations in Calgary and Vancouver under the Brinkhaus brand. To find out more, visit

Source: Telefilm Canada and Birks

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Media enquiries

Jennifer Rashwan, Touchwood PR, (416) 593-0777 ext. 204

Keira Hunt, Touchwood PR, (416) 593-0777 ext. 210

Joyce Richards, Telefilm Canada, (416) 973-1819 ext. 2521

Aynsley Knight Mariani, Birks Group Inc., (416) 788-5083

Stephanie Patterson, Burstyn Inc., (905) 616-0937


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