TORONTO — The Candys? Screenies? CSAs?
Five years in, the annual Canadian Screen Awards are still carving out their identity, with a new rebrand, a new mandate and many still speculating on what should be the nickname — if there should be one at all.
"I'm going to try to come up with something," says Howie Mandel, who will host Sunday's gala show on CBC from Toronto's Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.
"Even if they just use the acronym. We are totally aware of what a BAFTA is," he continues, jesting: "The fact that it's been on for five years and they still haven't named it? Can you imagine if the same rang true for a child? 'This is my son.' 'What's his name?' 'We'll come up with something.'"
The Academy Of Canadian Cinema and Television established the Canadian Screen Awards for film, TV and digital work in 2012 as a way to combine both the Genie and Gemini Awards and reflect "the multiplatform universe of today."
Last June, Beth Janson replaced the academy's outgoing chief executive officer Helga Stephenson and recently unveiled several changes. They include a new logo (with a similar font and gold colour scheme as the Oscars' academy) and a new mission to discover and promote different kinds of Canadian content "in a way that a distributor might market them."
"I think what we're trying to do is create a platform that we can use to reach out to the average Canadian and figure out why they should care about the Canadian Screen Awards," says Janson.
"For me, the stories that we're telling are reflective of our country and we have a lot to be proud of right now. So hopefully that will translate into having (Canadians) have some sort of emotional investment in seeing Canadian films, and in being proud of Canadian television, and all the industries across the world where we're doing really well."
Nominees for this year's awards seem pleased with the direction the academy is headed in, pulling in big-name hosts like Mandel as well as previous MCs Norm Macdonald, Martin Short, and Andrea Martin.
"I like what they've done to elevate the show and make it a bigger event," says filmmaker Kevan Funk, who has nods for directing and writing "Hello Destroyer," which is also up for best picture and best actor (for Jared Abrahamson).
"It seems like an arbitrary thing for the few people who get to go, but that extra press attention and all that, for a film like ours, it makes a huge difference."
Mike MacMillan, producer of the film "Weirdos," which has six nominations, says the new logo makes it all look "a little bit more expensive this year."
"It can't hurt, right? It's nice when things are shiny. People like shiny things."
Janson says the academy will be looking at a number of its rules and regulations after Sunday's show, including the entry fee for nomination consideration, which can be too expensive for some low-budget filmmakers. Writer-director Kazik Radwanski, for instance, says he didn't submit his acclaimed film "How Heavy This Hammer" for the awards this year because of the fee.
"It's tiered based on the budget of your film," says Janson, "but it is expensive and one of the things we have to look at is, how is the industry changing? And if we want to support bright, independent voices, what can we do and how can we remove those barriers?"
As for the nickname, Macdonald suggested in his hosting monologue last year that they be called the Candys, after the late John Candy.
Other nicknames that have been bandied about include the Screenies and CSAs.
"I am such a huge fan of John Candy that that would make me perfectly happy," says Mary Walsh, star of "This Hour Has 22 Minutes."
"I'm a Candys fan because I'm a huge John Candy fan," adds Gerry Dee, whose CBC comedy series "Mr. D" got six nominations.
Janson says she'd "love it if people just called them the Canadian Screen Awards," which pleases Funk.
"I don't know if they need an Oscar-y nickname or something like that," says Funk. "I think the Screen Awards works."
Quips Oscar-nominated filmmaker Sarah Polley, writer of the upcoming series "Alias Grace": "I think they all sound great. As long as there's a really good dance party at the end, we'll all be fine."
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press