Canadian Screen Awards: TV Drama ‘The Porter’ Leads With 19 Nominations

Clement Virgo’s ‘Brother’ grabbed 14 nominations in the film categories in Canada’s national entertainment awards show set to celebrate diversity and inclusivity.

The Canadian Screen Awards has unveiled nominations for the national film and TV prize-giving, and the CBC civil rights drama The Porter leads the film and TV field with 19 mentions in all, including for best small-screen drama.

The first Canadian drama series from an all-Black creative team, which also streams on BET+, centers on the lives of Black train porters and their families as they launch North America’s first Black labor union in the 1920s.

The TV categories, voted on by around 3,000 Canadian industry insiders, also sees the CBC series Detention Adventure and Sort Of – a Peabody award-winning show about a gender fluid young Muslim in Toronto played by Bilal Baig — nab 15 nominations each in an awards show shaping up to be a major showcase for people of color.

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That follows Canadian film, and TV industry efforts to ensure diversity and inclusivity in the country’s indie production sector and prize-giving process. The best drama series competition will pit Global’s Departure and CTV’s Transplant against the The Porter juggernaut, Moonshine and SkyMed, all of which battle for eyeballs at home as TV viewership and production increasingly shifts to American streamers like Netflix and Prime Video.

At the same time, there’s only one woman in the best TV drama director competition, Korean-Canadian helmer Gloria Ui Young Kim for her work CBC’s Heartland, as actor/director Cory Bowles gets two nominations for his separate work on CBC’s Coroner and Diggstown series and Charles Officer and R.T. Thorne get one mention each for The Porter.

Even though the Canadian Academy of Film and Television doesn’t break out Canadian Screen Award nominations by corporate parent, a recurring narrative appears this year: the CBC, Canada’s public broadcaster, has the most entries for its shows as private broadcasters continue to rely on American dramas, comedies and reality series for the bulk of their prime time offerings.

In the best TV comedy category, the CBC’s Fakes and Sort Of sitcoms will go up against CTV’s Astrid & Lilly and Children Ruin Everything and Crave’s Letterkenny chuckler.

On the small-screen acting side, the gender-neutral best lead performer competition has entries for Mayko Nguyen and John Reardon for Hudson & Rex, Ami Ameen, Ronnie Rowe Jr. and Mouna Traore will each contend for The Porter, Jennifer Finnigan will compete for Moonshine and Hamza Haq and Laurence Leboeuf got nominations for Transplant, a medical drama that has Haq playing a Syrian refugee who gets a job at a Toronto hospital.

And the best supporting performer competition will see Coroner’s Thom Allison and Andy McQueen and Departure’s Wendy Crewson, Karen LeBlanc and the late Christopher Plummer face off against Dwain Murphy for Diggstown, Kevin Hanchard for Hudson & Rex, and Daniel Maslany for Murdoch Mysteries.  

On the film side, Clement Virgo’s drama Brother nabbed 14 nominations, followed closely by Stephane Lafleur’s comedy Viking taking 13 mentions and David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future netting 11 nominations.

Adapted for the screen by Virgo from David Chariandy’s novel of the same name, Brother is the story of Francis and Michael, sons of Caribbean immigrants maturing into young men amid Toronto’s 1990s hip-hop scene. Lamar Johnson (The Hate You Give), Aaron Pierre (Old), Kiana Madeira (Fear Street) and Marsha Stephanie Blake (When They See Us) lead the ensemble cast.

The best movie competition will see Brother and Anthony Shim’s Korean family drama Riceboy Sleeps go up against Monia Chokri’s Babysitter, Charlotte Le Bon’s Falcon Lake and Sadaf Foroughi’s Iran-set drama Summer With Hope.

In the film acting categories, the lead performance competition will see Chokri (Babysitter), Johnson (Brother), Joseph Engel (Falcon Lake) and Kelly Depeault (Noémie dit oui) go up against
Seung-Yoon Choi (Riceboy Sleeps), Maxime Le Flaguais (Rodéo), Larissa Corriveau (Un été comme ça) and Steve Laplante (Viking).  

And for the best supporting performance, there’s nominations for Nadia Tereszkiewcz (Babysitter), Mohammed Marouazi (Respire), Stephanie Blake (Brother) and Pierre (Brother), K.C. Collins (Chien Blanc), Sara Montpetit (Falcon Lake), Jean-Luc Kanapé (Nouveau-Québec),  Leili Rashidi (Summer With Hope).

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The national film and TV awards, produced by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, will hand out trophies off camera during the Canadian Screen Week from April 11 to 14 in Toronto, ahead of Samantha Bee hosting a Canadian Screen Awards one-hour special on the CBC network and CBC Gem on April 16.

A complete list of nominees is available on the Canadian Academy’s website.