A WIFT-T affair

High-profile talent and executives from the Canadian film and TV industry gathered Tuesday to celebrate the annual Crystal Awards. (Photo gallery.)

The Toronto-based film and television industry gathered Tuesday Dec. 3 to celebrate the Crystal Awards Gala Luncheon, the swanky annual midday bash hosted by Women in Film and Television – Toronto.

MC’d by the always-entertaining Wendy Crewson – “Don’t worry,” she told the audience by way of introduction, “Nothing bad will happen here today – unless we get too hungry” – the event honoured the accomplishments of five Canadian women from the industry.

Director-producer-screenwriter Semi Chellas received the Creative Excellence Award for her body of work, which includes Emmy award-winning work with AMC’s Mad Men. Referring to the video that introduced her, Chellas thanked her “groundbreaking feminist” mother for inspiring her, and quipped, “I’m haunted by a question they asked me in that video, how I balanced work and life – I really don’t!”

Director-Producer-Writer Lalita Krishna was awarded the Mentorship Award for her work, and her influence on others coming up in the industry. She too credited her parents for her success: “I grew up in a house where whining and complaining was not tolerated.  [The attitude was] if there was a problem, then we’ll find a way to fix it… and then I became a documentary filmmaker,” she joked.

Bringing with her a big cheering section, Margaret O’Brien, president, Canada and COO, Entertainment One Television, was presented with the Outstanding Achievement in Business Award. Recalling her first days on the job at eOne, coming from a background outside of the industry, she said she first consulted Google, wondering what exactly a producer does.

“On a bad day, I’m still trying to figure that out,” she added with a laugh.

O’Brien was followed by producer Sheila Hockin, who received the Special Jury Award of Distinction. Clearly touched by the honour, Hockin thanked the talent she worked with – and helped develop – over the years, expressing with amazement that Canada’s talent well has gotten so deep, eight of the 10 episodes of Vikings (which she is producing) were directed by Canadians. “If you ever have the opportunities that I have been given, spread them to others,” she implored the audience.

And finally, Toronto-born actor Mia Kirshner (The L Word) was presented with the International Achievement Award, thanking her parents and expressing gratitude at finding such a fruitful career in the field.

Here are a selection of photos from the event.