Lionsgate Entertainment founder receives VIFF Screen Industry Builder Award

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      Lionsgate Entertainment founder Frank Guistra received the Vancouver International Film Festival's inaugural Screen Industry Builder Award on October 1.

      At a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon, Fiore Group CEO Guistra was honoured for his contributions to B.C. film industry.

      The award was created by VIFF in collaboration with the provincial creative industry initiative BC Creates to recognize leaders in local screen-based media industries.

      Former CTV Network CEO Ivan Fecan, who stepped in for B.C. Premier Christy Clark who was unable to attend the event, spoke about Giustra's philanthropy and mentorship, positive thinking, and his strong Vancouver connections.

      Fecan illuminated the significance of Fecan's accomplishments by explaining there are five major studios in the film industry: Paramount, Fox, Warner Bros., Disney, and Universal.

      "You may not understand the enormity of what he did," Fecan told the audience. "A couple of years ago, Lionsgate for the first time in 50 years, joined that club, became the sixth major, a company he created a short 18 years ago."

      In his acceptance speech, Giustra talked about how much he wants to create a major Vancouver-based studio.

      "When I launched Lionsgate in 1997, my intention to keep the headquarters here, I wanted to create a full-fledged studio based in Vancouver," he said. "That was the original intent. Well, things didn't quite work out that way for a lot of reasons but I think we're going to get it right this time with Thunderbird. Most of our operations are based here in Vancouver and I think they'll continue to be based here."

      North Shore Studios and Mammoth Studios president, Motion Picture Production Industry Association of B.C. chair, and co-founding stakeholder of BC Creates Peter Leitch talked about the need to raise awareness of how important creative industries are to the economy.  

      "B.C.'s creative industries combined generate at least $4 billion in annual GDP and support 85,000 skilled jobs in B.C., putting the province's creative economy shoulder to shoulder with B.C.'s mining, agriculture, and forestry sectors," he said in a speech.

      VIFF executive director Jacqueline Dupuis told the Georgia Straight that VIFF sought to create this new award as a means to contribute to that awareness and nurture local talent.

      "We've been really thinking about how we'll celebrate and develop and new screen-based industry talent going forward, how will we develop that next generation of storytellers, and so obviously we have to do that in partnership with industry."

      Dupuis also talked about VIFF Industry, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and runs until Saturday (October 3).

      "What we're thinking about now is how do we react to the changes in market?" she said. "We've seen significant growth in digital media, gaming, animation, and so we're thinking about the future of where the creative economy is going and how we react to that and partner with it."

      In other VIFF awards news, VIFF's Best New Director award, which was introduced last year has been put on hiatus for this year. Dupuis said they are reconsidering the award and will relaunch it at some point in the future. The international award had replaced the 20-year-old Dragons and Tigers Award for Young Cinema, which had been given out to an emerging director from Pacific Asia.

      Also, VIFF's B.C. Spotlight Awards will be presented at a gala screening of Into the Forest on Saturday (October 3) and will include the Best B.C. Film and the B.C. Emerging Filmmaker Award.

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