GGPAA Laureates Honoured in 7 New NFB Shorts

For an impressive 16 years running, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) has been leading the charge in celebrating Canada’s brightest stars in the performing arts. Teaming up with the prestigious Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards (GGPAA), the NFB gathers filmmakers, producers, and creative geniuses from all corners of the country to honour the latest inductees into Canada’s cultural Hall of Fame.

Set to take place against the stunning backdrop of Ottawa’s National Arts Centre, a collection of captivating short films will make their debut at the highly anticipated GGPAA Gala on June 8, 2024. And the best part? You can join in on the celebration from anywhere in the country, as these films will also be available to stream online.

Since joining forces in 2008, the NFB and GGPAA have been shining a spotlight on the extraordinary individuals who have made significant contributions to the performing arts. These cinematic tributes not only provide a visual feast for audiences but also offer an intimate look into the lives and legacies of the honorees. As Suzanne Guèvremont, Government Film Commissioner and NFB Chairperson, beautifully put it, these films stand as creative tributes to our cultural heritage, accessible to all Canadians online.

The Films

Seven captivating short films, meticulously crafted to honour the exceptional achievements of the latest GGPAA laureates, await our exploration. Here’s an in-depth look at these cinematic tributes:

Directed by Gilles Doiron

Acclaimed Acadian director Gilles Doiron takes the helm for three of the short films, produced for the NFB by Christine Aubé. His cinematic tributes pay homage to two Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award laureates:

Diane Juster: A renowned songwriter, composer, performer, pianist, and arts advocate.

Wes “Maestro” Williams: The esteemed recording artist, actor, author, and motivational speaker.

Directed by Michelle Mama

Toronto-based documentarian Michelle Mama takes the director’s chair for two of the short films, produced by Chanda Chevannes, honouring Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award laureates:

Andrea Martin: Accomplished actor known for her versatile performances across stage and screen. Mama’s film takes us on a journey through Martin’s illustrious career, highlighting her many memorable roles and her ability to captivate audiences with her dramatic depth. 

Ronnie Burkett, O.C.: Celebrated puppeteer, playwright, designer, and performer. In this tribute, Mama explores Burkett’s innovative and imaginative approach to puppetry, showcasing his ability to bring inanimate objects to life and create unforgettable characters. 

Directed by Will Prosper

Montreal filmmaker Will Prosper leads the direction of two short films, also produced by Chanda Chevannes, paying tribute to:

Measha Brueggergosman-Lee: Soprano and faith advocate, recipient of the Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award. We are treated to an intimate look at the life and legacy of this remarkable artist.

Jenny Belzberg, C.M.: Recipient of the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts. In this tribute, Prosper shines a light on Belzberg’s tireless advocacy for the arts and her many contributions to Canada’s cultural landscape. 

These films offer insightful reflections on the lasting influence of these esteemed artists on Canada’s cultural scene. Under the direction of these skilled filmmakers, audiences are encouraged to explore the diverse realm of Canadian performing arts and the significant contributions of its luminaries.

The Directors

Behind each of these compelling cinematic tributes are three visionary directors, each bringing their unique perspective and artistic flair to the forefront of Canadian filmmaking.

Gilles Doiron

A native of Dieppe, New Brunswick, Gilles Doiron’s passion for cinema led him to pursue studies at the Toronto Film School. Graduating with distinction, he refined his skills in Toronto and Montreal before returning to his roots to contribute to the development of New Brunswick’s film industry. With a career spanning over a decade, Doiron has contributed to over 50 productions, demonstrating a dynamic commitment and determination that have garnered him numerous successes. His directorial talent shines through in the three short films honoring GGPAA laureates, showcasing his ability to authentically capture the essence of Canadian performing arts legends.

Michelle Mama

With a wealth of experience totaling over 300 hours of television and an award-winning documentary under her belt, Michelle Mama emerges as a prominent figure in the Canadian filmmaking landscape. Her debut feature-length film, “21 Days to Nawroz,” offered a poignant examination of the lives of women in northern Iraq. Since then, Mama has lent her directorial talents to acclaimed series and served as the lead creative producer on notable documentary projects. Presently, she directs the documentary feature film “Anti-Diva: The Carole Pope Confessions” and has inaugurated her production company, GAY AGENDA, with a focus on crafting narratives from a defiantly queer perspective. With her extensive experience and unwavering dedication to storytelling, Mama injects a fresh and authentic perspective into the GGPAA tribute films.

Will Prosper

Renowned for his visionary approach to filmmaking, Will Prosper is celebrated for his ability to vividly portray underrepresented communities and Afro-descendant cultures. His acclaimed feature documentary, “Kenbe la, jusqu’à la Victoire,” showcases his narrative genius and deep-rooted commitment to social justice. Currently, Prosper is developing a groundbreaking documentary project that seamlessly integrates elements of fiction to convey compelling stories. His latest film, “Northern Beats,” selected for TIFF 2023, further solidified his status as a masterful cinematic storyteller.

Through his unique perspective and artistic vision, Prosper brings the stories of these esteemed artists to life, offering a glimpse into their lives and legacies and showcasing the profound impact they have had on Canada’s cultural landscape. 

Don’t miss your chance to experience these cinematic masterpieces at the GGPAA Gala on June 8, 2024, or online from anywhere in the country.

The Awards

The Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards (GGPAA) stand as the pinnacle of recognition for excellence in the Canadian performing arts scene. Established in 1992 under the patronage of the Right Honourable Ramon John Hnatyshyn and his wife Gerda, these awards celebrate the outstanding contributions of artists and arts volunteers to Canadian culture, both at home and abroad.

Award Categories

Lifetime Artistic Achievement: This prestigious award recognizes individuals who have made indelible contributions to Canadian and global cultural life in the categories of Stages (formerly theatre), dance, classical music, popular music, and Screens and Voices (formerly broadcasting and film).

Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts: This award honours individuals or groups for their exceptional voluntary service to the performing arts in Canada. It recognizes those who have gone above and beyond to support and promote the arts in their communities.

National Arts Centre Award: This award acknowledges extraordinary artistic achievements by an individual or company in the past performance year. It celebrates those who have made a significant impact on the performing arts in Canada through their recent work.

Nomination and Selection Process

GGPAA follows a rigorous nomination and selection process to ensure that the most deserving individuals and groups are recognized for their contributions to the performing arts in Canada.

Recipients of the Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award are nominated by the general public and selected by a distinguished panel of experts. This panel is composed of individuals with extensive knowledge and experience in the performing arts, who carefully review each nomination and select the laureates based on their exceptional contributions to the arts.

The Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts is also nominated by the public. Nominations are reviewed by a panel of experts, who select the recipient based on their outstanding voluntary service to the performing arts in Canada.

The National Arts Centre Award recipients are selected by the NAC corporate and artistic leadership. This award recognizes extraordinary artistic achievements by an individual or company in the past performance year, and the selection process is based on the NAC’s assessment of the impact and significance of the recipient’s recent work.

Prizes and Recognition

Lifetime Artistic Achievement: Recipients of this prestigious award receive a $25,000 cash prize from the Canada Council for the Arts, along with a commemorative medallion from the Royal Canadian Mint. 

Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts: A commemorative medallion is awarded to recipients of this award, which honours individuals or groups for their exceptional voluntary service to the performing arts in Canada.

National Arts Centre Award: Recipients of this award are granted a $25,000 cash prize from the National Arts Centre, in addition to a commemorative medallion from the Royal Canadian Mint. This award acknowledges extraordinary artistic achievements by an individual or company in the past performance year.

Bottom Line

As we look forward to the GGPAA Gala on June 8, 2024, and the online release of these captivating shorts, we are reminded of the vital role that artists play in enriching our lives. Through their unwavering commitment and creative expression, these luminaries have left an indelible mark on the Canadian arts scene, inspiring generations to come.


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