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Calgary leads 2023 nominations for film industry Rosie Awards

The number of new companies and new creators is up for this year’s Rosie Awards, which celebrate and promote the film making industry in Alberta.

The awards, which are put on by the Alberta Media Production Industries Association (AMPIA), is Alberta’s longest running in the film industry. AMPIA is celebrating its 50th anniversary as an organization this year.

AMPIA co-chair Brent Kawchuk said that the number of new people and projects up for nomination—344 this year for 52 awards—is a reflection of the growth of the industry.

“I hate to always go back to making Covid kind of statements, it was strong then as well, but it’s just even stronger now that people are out and working and things are in full production. But not only is it the number of awards, it’s different people,” Kawchuk said.

“I have been part of this industry for a while now, been a part of AMPIA, and I’m seeing so many new names, new companies, and projects that hadn’t got going but then did. And just the range is very exciting. It’s not the AMPIA came up in anymore, it is a ton of new faces and great work is being done by them.”

Calgary led the number of nominations across all categories, with 181 nominees. Edmonton followed with 100, and the 63 remaining were from Sherwood Park, Grande Cache, Okotoks, and Spruce Grove.

The number of Calgary nominations was up from 2022’s 160.

Province producing great work, and getting recognized

Kawchuk said that the number of nominations however wasn’t reflective of any particular region of the province producing better work than any other.

“These bigger shows do often operate out of Calgary, the crew capacity, and some of the larger rental houses and the studios are down there. But the Edmonton community, it’s astonishing to me how much they get done, in terms of the homegrown projects that are getting produced,” he said.

He said that across the province, Albertans are elevating the projects that they are involved in, especially the recent number of big-budget productions like Under the Kingdom of Heaven or Last of Us.

“Not only are those fantastic projects with big budgets but there are people in the industry here that are contributing toward them, making their shows what they, are and making them better,” Kawchuk said.

The Rosie Awards, said Kawchuk, mean a lot to the people working on those shows.

“To see their work in these awards means a ton. The production designers, people like that, we see their work on the screen not so much behind the scenes. They are what makes these shows pop and really come alive for people, so I’m happy their work is reflected in these nominations as well,” he said.

The awards also represent, on a more personal level for many of the writers, directors, editors, other craftspeople, and commercial production producers, an opportunity to build their reputation in a competitive industry.

“If you’re an editor winning, that’s your name out there in front of other producers to maybe get that work, and they haven’t seen your work before but they know your name, now they will look for your work,” Kawchuk said.

“Same with directors, writers, all those craftspeople to producers. It’s a way to get in front of broadcasters and other buyers and say, ‘hey, this is what we did.'”

Rosie nominees also nominated for the biggest awards in showbiz

Several of the Rosie Award nominees this year have also been nominated for some of the biggest awards in film and television.

The Last of Us, which was nominated for a staggering 24 Emmys this year, garnered three nominations for Albertans Kelsey Andries, Peter Bews, and Sally Bishop in the stunt performer category. All three are under the Calgary-based company Bear & Pear Productions.

Calgary animators Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis are up for a Rosie for The Flying Sailor under the Best Animator / Motion Graphic(s), Best Director, Best Screenwriter categories, while the film itself is up for Best Scripted Production Under 30 Minutes.

The pair received an Oscar nomination last year for the film.

“Alberta is home to extraordinarily talented crews who have been nominated for more than 50 Academy Awards and received 22 Emmy Award wins, more than any other jurisdiction in Canada,” said Chris Duncan, Chair of the Rosie Awards.

He said that quality represents that there will continue to be unquestionable growth in the industry at a high level.

Other Rosie Award nominees are also slated for competition at both the Calgary International Film Festival and the Edmonton International Film Festival.

Kawchuk said that the fact that audiences will be able to see nominated films at both festivals is no coincidence.

“We’ve moved our award season to the fall with those two festivals. We want to work with them, we’ve tried to put our award shows alongside them… we want the fall to be that season for people,” he said.

“So when they’re programming things that are made by Albertans, that says a lot as well.”

Awards show bigger, better this year

Kawchuk said that the goal this year was to put on a better show for attendees this year.

“We’ve got an award show about the entertainment industry that it’s difficult to make as entertaining as possible. But we’ve been able to bring music back to it. Great guests, great presenters, and some very strong hosts.”

The number of awards being given out also means that the show has been split into two parts—not unlike the Oscars.

Stand-up Comedian Steve Patterson, known for the hit CBC Radio show The Debaters, will be hosting the evening show, while former AMPIA winner and comedian Rick Bronson will be hosting the afternoon show.

Having the opportunity to give someone who might be new to the industry an award in person is something exceptionally special, Kawchuk said.

“If they are a new face and they are accepting, that’s exciting as hell for me and everybody at AMPIA because you just hear so much passion, and excitement for the reward for their work that they’re out there representing,” Kawchuk said.

“To me, that’s the most entertaining or most rewarding part of the shows. To see people are beginning to really feel that recognition, and be given the means to keep moving on and then the encouragement to keep creating.”

Each year the AMPIA awards switch between Edmonton and Calgary, with the awards being hosted in Edmonton this year at the West Edmonton Mall in the afternoon at The Comic Strip, and in the evening at the River Cree Resort on Sept. 30.

For more details on nominees, and to see winners of the Rosie Awards, see ampia.org.