Oscar-nominated Canadians feted at Los Angeles luncheon
'We've got homegrown talent. And I think this is the proof of that,' says producer J. Miles Dale
With just days to go before the Oscars, some of the Canadians up for awards were celebrated at an event in Los Angeles.
Producer J. Miles Dale is part of lead Oscar nominee The Shape of Water's heavily Canadian team. Shot in Toronto and Hamilton, Ont., Guillermo del Toro's unlikely romance is heading into Sunday's ceremony with 13 nominations, with Canadians in the running for their work on the fantastical film's production design, costume design, sound editing, sound mixing and film editing.
"We've always said that you don't really need to bring in people from anywhere — we've got homegrown talent. And I think this is the proof of that," says Dale, one of this year's strong contingent of Canadian Oscar nominees.
The latest batch of Canadians nominated for the Academy Awards were honoured in Los Angeles on Thursday at the annual pre-Oscars luncheon hosted by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, Telefilm Canada and the Consul General of Canada in Los Angeles.
Aside from the celebrations, however, serious issues being tackled in the entertainment industry — confronting sexual misconduct, dealing with workplace harassment and the need for gender equality and greater diversity — have been a large part of this year's awards season discussions.
"What's come to light and the volume of it and the horror of it is really waking people up to say 'Hey, this is worse than what we thought it was,'" Dale noted.
"I suppose better late than never. We're all very conscious of it and I think it is a great thing."
The Breadwinner, another of this year's Canadian success stories, is an example of what can transpire "when you've got strong women with creative vision behind the project," says producer Anthony Leo.
Rather than "needing to pull a team like this together [specifically] because of #metoo or Time's Up," The Breadwinner came together organically, said Toronto-based Leo, making it simply "a great example of women leading a project."
Nonetheless, moving forward, he wants to see both men and women actively working together on diversifying the movie business.
"People like to say 'Well, strictly it should be an artistic choice. Gender shouldn't come into it.' But if that had been working, we wouldn't be in the situation we are now," Leo said.
"It just has to be a conscious choice: an acknowledgement that stories that female directors want to tell have as much relevance to audiences today as the ones that men want to tell."
With files from Zulekha Nathoo and Laura Thompson