Cronenberg sweeps DGC Awards

David Cronenberg has a habit of dominating the DGC Awards.

Saturday, his Eastern Promises triumphed in all five juried categories the Russian mafia drama challenged in, beating out competition including Jeremy Podeswa’s Fugitive Pieces and Kari Skogland’s The Stone Angel.

Support from among Cronenberg’s Directors Guild of Canada peers was so strong that Eastern Promises came away with trophies for best feature, best director, best picture editing, sound editing and production design.

Cronenberg, a no-show Saturday night, two years ago earned four DGC statuettes for A History of Violence. And in 2003, his psychological drama Spider snagged three trophies, shutting out Atom Egoyan’s Ararat.

It was left to Cronenberg’s longtime collaborators including picture editor Ronald Sanders, supervising sound editor Wayne Griffin and production designer Carol Spier to accept hardware at the Toronto gala on his behalf.

‘Thanks to David Cronenberg for 30 years, lots of wonderful challenges in beautiful pictures,’ Spier, who has designed 15 movies for the veteran director, said during her acceptance speech for best feature production design.

Other winners included Laurie Lynd’s Breakfast with Scot for best team family feature film, John N. Smith’s The Englishman’s Boy, securing top honor for best team TV movie, and Booky and the Secret Santa, directed by Peter Moss, picking up the DGC Award for best team family TV movie.

Also on the TV front, Intelligence won for best team TV drama, Degrassi: The Next Generation grabbed the best team family series prize, while Corner Gas earned hardware for best team comedy and Peter Raymont’s A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman took home the trophy for best team documentary.

In the individual races, Ken Girotti won for best TV movie direction for Mayerthorpe, and Holly Dale earned the DGC Award for best TV series direction for her work on Durham County.

Teresa Hannigan, who won for best picture editing of a TV movie/miniseries for her work on Would Be Kings, dedicated her award to executive producer Peter Simpson, who was diagnosed with lung cancer just as work on the CTV miniseries began and who died in June 2007 as the project was finished.

‘I was proud to have known him,’ Hannigan said of the veteran Canadian producer.

Other emotional high points on Saturday night included a lifetime achievement award for Eric Till (Bethune), and the Don Haldane Distinguished Service Award going to former DGC president Alan Goluboff (Traders, Destiny Ridge).

Both men used their acceptance speeches to recall their salad days as directors, and to take stock of their intervening careers.

Goluboff, who received standing ovations as he walked on and left the stage, reminisced about his first job out of Ryerson, working as a P.A. on Alan King’s 1976 Saskatoon shoot for Who Has Seen the Wind, and having a ‘Cheech and Chong’ moment with a local cop one night.

With an eye to the recent federal election, Goluboff’s politically charged and impassioned acceptance speech then warned fellow DGC members never to allow others to define their craft or work.

‘It’s not for politicians to dictate who we are,’ he said, recalling Stephen Harper labeling artists as elitists during a campaign stop in Saskatoon, Goluboff’s hometown.

And British-born Till recalled his first day on the job at the CBC, and being told to report to David Greene, another Brit expat and then a drama director for the CBC before he went on to Hollywood.

‘I’ve been assigned to work with you,’ a young Till told Greene.

‘No you won’t. Now fuck off,’ Greene responded.