The Directors Guild of Canada announces special award recipients

TORONTO, May 29, 2013 /CNW/ - The Directors Guild of Canada is delighted to announce the recipients of three special career acknowledgments for 2013. The three individuals were selected at a meeting of the DGC's National Executive Board, held in Vancouver, B.C. earlier this month. These awards will be presented at the annual DGC Awards Gala on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at the historic Fairmont Royal York Hotel.

"We take great pride in celebrating these individuals and their bodies of work," stated Sturla Gunnarsson, National President, DGC.

DGC Lifetime Achievement Award

The Don Haldane Distinguished Service Award

The Honourary Life Member Award

The DGC Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the Member's full career and body of work. This year's recipient, JOHN N. SMITH has created uniquely Canadian documentaries and dramas for five decades.  Often controversial, always enlightening and entertaining, Smith's work has gracefully and inquisitively explored the history and geography of our nation.  While at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), Smith directed, co-wrote and co-produced more than 20 films that garnered dozens of awards including First Winter (nominated for a 1981 Academy Award in short drama), TRAIN OF Dreams, Welcome to Canada and Sitting in Limbo. In 1994, he directed, co-wrote and co-produced the groundbreaking television mini-series The Boys of St. Vincent.  The series told the shocking story of sexual and emotional abuse in a fictional Catholic orphanage and caused great controversy when it was temporarily banned in Ontario and Quebec.  The Boys of St. Vincent aired to great worldwide critical acclaim and won many awards including 1994 Geminis for Best Dramatic Mini-Series, Best Direction in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series, and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series.  The mini-series also won numerous awards at international film festivals.  The success of The Boys of St. Vincent opened doors in Hollywood and after completing the box-office success Dangerous Minds, A COOL DRY PLACE and SUGARTIME, he realized he belonged in Canada telling Canadian stories and at the height of his success in the U.S., returned his green card.  Smith directed the 4-hour miniseries TOMMY DOUGLAS-PRAIRIE GIANT about the father of Canadian health care.  The series aired on CBC in 2006, again to great political controversy because of the portrayal of a lesser political figure in the story.  He was a staunch defender of the film and the depiction of its characters, both in the media and with concerned politicians.  The film was nominated for 9 Geminis and is now shown in more than 130 markets internationally.  He directed the 4-hour miniseries THE ENGLISHMAN'S BOY based on the award-winning Guy Vanderhaege novel. Smith also directed the quintessentially Canadian films DIEPPE and REVENGE OF THE LAND, both 4-hour mini-series and RANDOM PASSAGE, an 8-hour mini-series chronicling early Irish settlers in Newfoundland. He then directed a feature film English adaptation of the award-winning Michel Tremblay play, LES BELLES SOEURS, entitled GERALDINE'S FORTUNE. In 2002, Smith returned to his NFB documentary roots with OFFSTAGE/ONSTAGE—INSIDE THE STRATFORD FESTIVAL.  His passion for performance is also clear in the many documentary explorations of the art of performance including ACTING CLASS, FOR THE LOVE OF DANCE, GALA, FIRST STOP, CHINA as well as OFFSTAGE/ONSTAGE. Most recently, Smith returned to Ireland and Newfoundland to direct the feature film LOVE & SAVAGERY, written by Des Walsh. Smith's introduction to controversy came early.  Fresh out of McGill University's graduate political science program, on an assignment for a segment about FLQ terrorists for the CBC's THE WAY IT IS, he refused to reveal his sources and spent two weeks in jail, causing a rift within the CBC and eventually prompting an internal review about how it would protect its journalists.  Early in his career, he was a producer at the CBC (THE WAY IT IS 1968-69 and 1969-71).  He also produced THE FABULOUS SIXTIES (10 one-hours); HERE COME THE SEVENTIES (26 half-hours); and FACE TO FACE (six half-hours). In 1972 he won an Emmy Award for producing the New York current affairs show THE 51st STATE. In July 2008 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for his contributions to the Canadian film industry as a filmmaker whose works have touched audiences across Canada and around the world. Smith was born on July 31, 1943 in Montreal, where he continues to live and work.

The Don Haldane Distinguished Service Award is presented to a DGC Member in recognition of outstanding service to the membership of the Directors Guild of Canada. This year's recipient, LEE GORDON, is a veteran Canadian and Hollywood producer and one of the original founding members of the DGC in 1962. After 14 years of filmmaking in New York City, Europe and Los Angeles, Lee founded Westminster Films in Toronto with Don Haldane and Roy Krost in 1959. With Roy Krost, she co-produced, NIKKI: WILD DOG OF THE NORTH for Disney in 1960. Among the numerous films she produced and /or directed were many award winners and two critically acclaimed worldwide adoption films:  A WAY OUT and ALONG THE WAY.  Lee was Canada's first female director and directed films in all provinces and most USA states. Lee was the only woman in the room when the principals of Westminster Films decided Canada needed a Screen Directors Guild (later the Directors Guild of Canada). Her work and commitment to the rights of creators was instrumental in developing the guiding principles of the DGC.

The Honourary Life Member Award is presented to an individual (Member or non-Member) whose outstanding contribution to the industry has had a major beneficial impact on the Guild and Guild members. This year's recipient PETER O'BRIAN is a well-known and respected Canadian film producer of award-winning feature films including THE GREY FOX (1983) and MY AMERICAN COUSIN (1986), ONE MAGIC CHRISTMAS (1985) and FAR FROM HOME (1995) and others.  Mr. O'Brian is a two-time Genie winner and Golden Globe Award nominee.  He is a founding Board Member and former Executive Director of the Canadian Film Centre (1988-91) and Executive Producer of its Feature Film Program (1999-2001); and long time former Board Member of the Toronto International Film Festival Group (1984-97).  Currently, Peter is the Chair of the Board of Directors, TVO (2005-Present).  He received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, "For his contribution and devotion to cinema and television arts in Canada". The driving force behind his devotion to the arts can best be summed up by his own words: "I believe in the power of the public arts to illuminate our lives, express our dreams, and inspire positive change in our world."

SOURCE: Directors Guild of Canada, National Office

For further information:

Alejandra Sosa - Director, Communications
416.482.3803 or


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