Joel Ashton McCarthy opened his acceptance speech for Best Direction: Short Drama at Sunday night’s (June 4) Leo Awards with an anecdote that touched on what the show is all about.
The director of "I Love You So Much it’s Killing Them" told audience members at the Hyatt Regency Hotel that he was at a bar celebrating a win from the previous night’s technical ceremony, when the bartender asked him what his award was for. When McCarthy told the guy it was a Leo, his response was, “What the fuck is that?”
With that, McCarthy spoke to many of the themes of Sunday night’s ceremony: swearing, self-deprecation, and a call to prioritize Canadian stories and Canadian talent in B.C. cinema.
“We as a whole here need to give a shit about Canadian film,” said McCarthy. “It’s important for us to be a megaphone, amplify the good shit, and put Canadian film on the map.”
As an industry that's worth $1 billion to the province, the ceremony offers professionals a chance to celebrate the work of their long-time colleagues, neighbours, and friends.
Writer-director Kevan Funk’s Hello Destroyer took home much of the night’s hardware, cleaning up in the screenwriting, directing, and best picture categories.
Lead actor Jared Abrahamson also claimed a prize, and delivered his speech in a stereotypically Canadian plaid flannel.
Juggling two of his V-shaped Leo statues, Funk spoke to the Georgia Straight after the show about his pride that his film—an “aggressively Canadian story” that takes a critical look at fighting in junior hockey—was recognized by the B.C. arts community.
“One thing that bothers me is that so many of the stories we tell in this city are pretending that this city is somewhere else,” he said.
“I just think there are so many stories to tell in B.C. I feel very strongly and assertively that we as filmmakers need to push back stronger to make those stories happen.”
Host Peter Kelamis—who took home an award for his supporting role as the Man in the Yellow Jacket in TV's Beyond—worked hard to add a sense of national identity to the proceedings. There were the mandatory digs at Donald Trump, of course, and at how our province’s rain problem was “too much precipitation for Satan,” resulting in FX drama Lucifer taking its filming elsewhere.
A funky, sequin-clad jazz group introduced each award with the earnestness and energy of a '90s sitcom transition, while one standout segment featured a video series that put the spotlight on “film jobs".
Hairdressers, make-up artists, and other little-recognized industry people explained what they do on set, with explanations like: “I’m an executive producer, meaning my job is to answer the phone and run away really quickly,” or “my job is to find a truck and lean on it.”
The silly segment was a hit with the crowd, but also spoke to the Canadian-ness of a show that imitates the pomp and glamour of the American awards circus, while pointing an ironic finger at itself.
After accepting her first ever Leo (for supporting work in The Man in the High Castle), Chelah Horsdal told the Straight: “It’s rad to be at home in a room full of love."
"I’ve worked with virtually everyone in that room, so that part’s pretty cool,” she added. “We have a really kick-ass group of artists in this city. It’s astonishing. It’s an embarrassment of riches”
The full list of 2017 Leo Award winners can be found here.