03/31/2019 23:23 EDT | Updated 04/01/2019 21:05 EDT

Canadian Screen Awards 2019 Celebrates Country's Diversity With A Dose Of Good Humour

Done in two hours! Take notes, Oscars.

TORONTO — TV dramas and debut features by women scored big at Sunday's Canadian Screen Awards as the hostless show moved along at a brisk pace with comedy bits from some of the country's biggest stars.

The CBC series "Anne with an E" and CTV detective drama "Cardinal: Blackfly Season" won two awards each during the CBC broadcast from Toronto's Sony Centre of Performing Arts, putting them atop the TV pack with a total of seven trophies apiece after a week of galas.

"Anne with an E," which is inspired by Lucy Maud Montgomery's classic novel "Anne of Green Gables," won best drama series and an acting nod for lead actress Amybeth McNulty. That added to five trophies acquired on Wednesday for a season that expanded upon the source material to include more diverse characters.

McNulty, 17, used her acceptance speech to encourage "every young person out there who doubts their voice, their mind, their power."

"We are strong, capable and willing to fight for our world," she said.

Photos: Canada's brightest stars at the Canadian Screen Awards ceremony. Story continues below.

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Meanwhile, "Cardinal" took top acting nods for stars Billy Campbell and Karine Vanasse during the show, adding to its five trophies from Wednesday.

In a tearful speech, Virginia-born Campbell thanked Vanasse and the local cast and crew of northern Ontario, where the show is filmed.

"I'm a Yank and I'm particularly grateful for Canada being Canada these days," he said.

Best comedy series went to "Schitt's Creek," resulting in a total of four awards for the week, including an acting nod for Catherine O'Hara's portrayal of eccentric matriarch Moira.

"In 'Schitt's Creek' we are writing a world that examines the transformational effects of love when the threat of hate and intolerance has been removed from the equation," said co-creator and showrunner Daniel Levy.

Mark Blinch / Reuters
Billy Campbell accepts the award for best lead actor in a limited series for "Cardinal: Blackfly Season" at the 7th annual Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on March 31, 2019.

"And while that's not a reality for many, our goal is to shine a light out there that asks the question, 'What if it was? Wouldn't we all be happier if we were able to love out loud?"'

The CBC riches-to-rags show, which recently announced its next season will be its last, had tied with "Anne with an E" with a leading 15 Canadian Screen Award nominations going into this year's ceremonies.

On the film side, best picture went to Genevieve Dulude-De Celles' debut feature, the Quebec coming-of-age drama "A Colony." It got three awards in total, including best first feature and best actress for Emilie Bierre's portrayal of an insecure high school student who bonds with an Indigenous boy.

"This is a dream, guys," said Bierre, 14, noting she's been acting since she was five.

Barrie, Ont.-raised Jasmin Mozaffari won best director for her critically acclaimed debut feature, "Firecrackers," about two young women longing to escape their small town. The Ontario-shot drama also won an editing award earlier in the day.

Mark Blinch / Reuters
Shamier Anderson presents the Radius Award to his brother, Stephan James.

"Really did not expect to win this, honest to God," Mozaffari said onstage, noting it was "a micro-budget" feature that she made "especially for women about living in a patriarchal world.

"I think I'm one of the few women to win this award. I don't think I'll be the last."

Overall, the leading film winner was Maxime Giroux's allegorical drama "The Great Darkened Days" with five awards, including best cinematography for Sara Mishara and best supporting actress for Sarah Gadon. Martin Dubreuil stars in the surreal wartime story as a Quebecois draft dodger and Charlie Chaplin impersonator in the American West.

It was also a big night for Crave's small-town sitcom "Letterkenny," which walked away with a nod for writing and one for acting for creator Jared Keeso, bringing its grand award total to five for the week.

Other top acting nods went to Kim Coates for the City mafia series "Bad Blood" and Theodore Pellerin for the crime drama film "Family First."

Carlos Osorio / Reuters
Amybeth McNulty, of "Anne With An E," poses with the award for Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series, backstage.

The Cogeco Fund Audience Choice Award went to actress Dominique Provost-Chalkley of the supernatural Western horror series "Wynonna Earp."

The show on CBC and its Gem streaming service capped off a week of ceremonies in which the bulk of the trophies were handed out.

The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television administers the awards, which honour Canadian talent in film, television and digital media in 135 categories.

Organizers chose not to have a host this year in a bid to experiment with the awards-show format.

The broadcast kicked off in quippy Canuck style, with a skit on homegrown celebrities involving the cast of "Baroness von Sketch Show," singer Jann Arden and actor Jerry O'Connell.

Carlos Osorio / Reuters
Carolyn Taylor, Meredith MacNeil, Aurora Browne and Jennifer Whalen of "Baroness Von Sketch Show" on the CSA red carpet.

Comedy star Mary Walsh received the Earle Grey Award for her body of work, while Deepa Mehta got the Lifetime Achievement Award.

"Will & Grace" star Eric McCormack presented the Kids in the Hall comedy troupe with the Academy Icon Award, and actor Stephan James received the inaugural Radius Award, which goes to a Canadian making waves globally.

"When I was coming up in Scarborough with my brother, we hadn't seen too many black actors who were doing incredible things abroad ... people who had come from Toronto and Canada," James said backstage.

"We've always wanted that, we've always yearned for that, and to look around and realize that you may be that person for some young girl or some young boy, it's an incredible feeling."

Deepa Mehta tells the audience at the Canadian Screen Awards to "Live long and prosper, and kick ass."

The following awards were handed out Sunday night on the Canadian Screen Awards broadcast:

Best Lead Actor, Drama Program or Limited Series: Billy Campbell, "Cardinal: Blackfly Season"

Best Lead Actress, Drama Program or Limited Series: Karine Vanasse, Cardinal: Blackfly Season"

Best Writing, Comedy: Jared Keeso, Jacob Tierney, Letterkenny" - Letterkenny Spelling Bee"

Ted Rogers Best Feature Length Documentary: Anthropocene: The Human Epoch" - Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier, Edward Burtynsky

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Theodore Pellerin, Family First"

Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Emilie Bierre, A Colony"

Best Lead Actor, Comedy: Jared Keeso, Letterkenny"

Best Lead Actress, Comedy: Catherine O'Hara, Schitt's Creek"

Achievement in Direction: Jasmin Mozaffari, Firecrackers"

Best Motion Picture: A Colony" - Fanny Drew, Sarah Mannering

Best Lead Actor, Drama Series: Kim Coates, Bad Blood"

Best Lead Actress, Drama Series: Amybeth McNulty, Anne with an E"

Best Drama Series: Anne with an E" - Miranda de Pencier, Moira Walley-Beckett

Cogeco Fund Audience Choice Award: Dominique Provost-Chalkley, Wynonna Earp"

Best Reality/Competition Program or Series: The Amazing Race Canada"

Best Comedy Series: Schitt's Creek"

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