Canadian Screen Awards 2017: A Night Of CanCon Icons, Diversity, Howie Mandel Jokes

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TORONTO — Howie Mandel kicked off Sunday's Canadian Screen Awards with an ode to Canadian talent and his suggestion for a nickname to call the prizes.

"This is a thrill for me to do something right here at home. I love coming home to Canada," the Toronto-born, tuxedo-clad "America's Got Talent" judge said as he took to the stage.

"You don't know what this means to me, because I've always resented the fact that I had to leave."

Mandel then launched into a loose monologue and banter with the audience. He riffed on how the awards show doesn't have an Oscars-style nickname, although others have suggested the Screenies or the Candys, after the late Canadian actor John Candy.

"How many of you are going to go home tonight with an STD?"
— Howie Mandel

"I know other hosts have been talking about naming it, I want to name it. What is it for?" Mandel said, adding the awards honour the best in Canadian film, television and digital work.

"So what is it? Screen, television, digital. This will go viral — it's an STD.

"How many of you are going to go home tonight with an STD?"

He then walked into the audience to chat with guests, from "Orphan Black" star Tatiana Maslany to "Schitt's Creek" star Eugene Levy and American standup star Dave Chappelle, who was to present the Icon Award to the homegrown comedy brand Just for Laughs.

Montreal director Xavier Dolan's "It's Only the End of the World" and the biopic "Race" were among the early winners on what was the last of several gala nights that awarded prizes in 134 categories.

In Sunday's pre-telecast awards ceremony, in which some two-dozen trophies were handed out, Dolan's French-language drama won four trophies including for best adapted screenplay and best cinematography. Organizers said Dolan was shooting in Paris and was unable to attend.

The film, about a dying writer who returns home to his estranged family, got a mixed reaction from critics when it screened at last May's Cannes Film Festival. But it ended up winning the festival's Grand Prix prize — the second-most prestigious award. And last month, the film won three Cesar Awards — which are often nicknamed the "French Oscars" — including a best director nod for Dolan.

"Race," about American track star Jesse Owens, won three trophies — for visual effects, sound editing and best achievement in overall sound.

Other multiple winners early in the night included "Born to be Blue," "Two Lovers and a Bear" and "I Am the Blues," which won two trophies apiece. "I Am the Blues" won the Ted Rogers best feature length documentary award.

Montreal animator Theodore Ushev's Oscar-nominated "Blind Vaysha," produced by the National Film Board of Canada, won best animated short.

"My life has changed a lot," the former graphic designer, who was born in Bulgaria and moved to Montreal in 1999, said backstage.

"People started watching my previous films.... In my personal life, all my former girlfriends called me again."

Molly Parker won best actress in a supporting role for Bruce McDonald's black-and-white coming-of-age tale "Weirdos."

"Schitt's Creek" star Catherine O'Hara won best lead actress in a comedy and "19-2" star Adrian Holmes won for best lead actor in a drama.

Holmes thanked the city of Montreal "for being such a gracious host" to the show as well as his cast members, family and his mother, who was a single mother until he was nine.

"She's my hero, I wouldn't be here without her," he said.

tatiana maslany csa
Tatiana Maslany accepts her award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role (Photo:THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power)

CBC's historical detective drama "Murdoch Mysteries" won the Golden Screen Award for TV drama and comedy, after winning four awards earlier in the week for its Christmas special.

"This is a massive hit in France, this is a huge hit in so many countries in the world and you watch it and it's really Canadian," said Christina Jennings, executive producer of "Murdoch Mysteries."

"So that whole thing about 'pretend we're not Canadian' ... I gotta tell ya, this show works. And I will announce tonight — season 11 is ordered, so we'll be back for another 20 episodes."

"Orphan Black" and "It's Only the End of the World" win big

The bulk of the awards, which are administered by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, were handed out earlier in the week, when "Orphan Black" won honours including best direction and best writing in a dramatic series.

Including awards handed out earlier in the week, "Orphan Black" nabbed nine trophies. It won best dramatic series and best lead actress in a dramatic role for star Tatiana Maslany, who plays multiple clones in the sci-fi show, all with different personalities and accents.

"It's been such an amazing journey, this show, for me. I've really grown up on it. It's been a huge responsibility and a huge privilege and I've made a family on it that I'm going to miss so much," she said backstage, referring to the show's final upcoming season.

"We're saying bye to characters every day and that's just devastating."

christopher plummer csaChristopher Plummer accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award (Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power)

Maslany won another trophy for another project on Sunday — best actress for the film "The Other Half." That honour had her teary eyed as she thanked her "other half," her boyfriend Tom Cullen, who's also the film's co-star/executive producer.

Dolan's French-language drama won six trophies, including best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay and best cinematography. Organizers said Dolan was shooting in Paris and was unable to attend.

The film, about a dying writer who returns home to his estranged family, got a mixed reaction from critics when it screened at last May's Cannes Film Festival. But it ended up winning the festival's Grand Prix prize — the second-most prestigious award. And last month, the film won three Cesar Awards — which are often nicknamed the "French Oscars" — including a best director nod for Dolan.

CraveTV's smalltown show "Letterkenny" was a surprise winner in the best TV comedy series category. The series also won two trophies earlier in the week.

Actress Tantoo Cardinal took home the Earle Grey Award, which honours actors for their body of work in Canadian television.

By no means is this the end, the curtain has not yet fallen. It's simply stuck.
— Christopher Plummer

And Oscar-winning actor Christopher Plummer accepted a lifetime achievement award — in self-deprecating style.

"Quite obviously the awards committee used my name out of pity: 'You better give it to him now before he croaks,"' he said. "And they're absolutely right, I mean, I'm old. Dangerously old! I'm so old that when I was a baby the first word I uttered was in Latin.

"I've spent almost 70 years making a fool of myself in this crazy, mad profession of ours and I've had the time of my life," he continued.

"By no means is this the end, the curtain has not yet fallen. It's simply stuck."

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