Mary Harron has a lot to celebrate. In a little over a week, “Alias Grace” — the Netflix miniseries she directed — will premiere. And in December Harron will receive the Creative Excellence Award at Women in Film & Television — Toronto’s (Wift-t) Crystal Awards, the annual celebration of women working in Canadian entertainment.
The prize “is presented to a woman in recognition of the dynamic quality of her work in screen-based media,” a Wift-t press release notes. In addition to features like “American Psycho,” “I Shot Andy Warhol,” and “The Moth Diaries,” Harron has previously helmed episodes of series such as “The L Word,” “Big Love,” and “Six Feet Under.”
Actress Tonya Williams (“The Young and the Restless”), screenwriter Karen Walton (“Orphan Black”), Guru Studio Evp Mary Bredin, and Digital Wizards prez Diane Williamson will also be honored at the Crystal Awards.
Williams is set to receive the Special Jury Award of Distinction, in recognition of her commitment to supporting diverse talent in Canada via Reelworld Film Festival, which she founded in 2001, and her production company, Wilbo Entertainment.
Walton will take home the Mentorship Award, which honors individuals who help women establish careers in screen-based media. The “Ginger Snaps” and “Queer as Folk” writer started inkcanada, a Facebook group for professional writers in Canada, in 2007.
The Outstanding Achievement in Business Award will go to Bredin for her leadership as an exec at Guru and, previously, at Nelvana, Telefilm Canada, Canal +, Pmmp, and Disney. And Williamson will receive the Digital Trailblazer Award for founding Digital Wizards Inc., where she also works as an executive producer.
“The Crystal Awards is the hallmark of Wift-t’s legacy,” said Heather Webb, the organization’s Executive Director. “For three decades, we’ve prioritized the recognition and celebration of women’s achievements; and the men who mentor, support, and advocate for women. Thirty years ago when women were rendered invisible in the industry, Wift-t led the way by illuminating the monumental contributions of women that significantly shape and advance Canada’s screen- based industry.”
Webb added, “These women have broken ground, demonstrated incredible visionary insight, and are an inspiration to their peers, audiences, and the next generation of women in the industry.”
The Crystal Awards Gala will be held December 5 in Toronto, Ontario. Event tickets will be sold on Wift-t’s website until November 20 or while quantities last.
Check out the Crystal Awardees’ bios below, courtesy of Wift-t.
Creative Excellence Award: Mary Harron, Director/Writer/Executive Producer
One of the most distinctive voices of the independent film movement of the last 20 years, Mary Harron made her debut as a feature-film writer/director in 1996 with “I Shot Andy Warhol.” The film won star Lili Taylor a Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival, and garnered Independent Spirit Award and London Film Critic Circle nominations for best first feature.
In 2000, Mary directed the internationally successful “American Psycho,” starring Christian Bale, which she and Guinevere Turner adapted from Brett Easton Ellis’ notorious bestseller. For her work on this film, she was nominated for Director of the Year by the London Film Critics Circle. She then followed with “The Notorious Bettie Page” in 2005, starring Gretchen Mol, Lili Taylor, and Jared Harris. The film debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival and at the Berlin International Film Festival to critical acclaim.
Mary’s most recent feature film, “The Moth Diaries,” starring Sarah Bolger, Sarah Gadon, and Lily Cole, premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2011 and had its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Her latest production is the six-part series “Alias Grace,” written and produced by Sarah Polley, and based on the novel by celebrated Canadian author, Margaret Atwood. The series stars Sarah Gadon, Paul Gross, and Anna Paquin, and was produced for CBC and Netflix.
Mentorship Award: Karen Walton, Writer/Executive Producer & President, inkling entertainment inc. & Founder/Admin, inkcanada
Karen Walton is a screen and television writer/creative executive producer whose body of work champions society’s underdogs and outliers. Best known as the writer of cult horror classic “Ginger Snaps,” her decades of television credits include celebrated episodes of “Orphan Black,” “Queer As Folk,” and the true-life rape culture saga, “The Many Trials of One Jane Doe.”
In 2007, Karen founded the public online community known as inkcanada — Canadian Screenwriters & Their Sketchy Friends; a Facebook Group dedicated to fostering free access and open exchanges between Canada’s professional storytellers, and those who aspire to telling their own stories — no matter who they are or where they live. Now in its 10th year of amazing conversations, inkcanada features the distinct voices of over 5,000 members in Canada, and around the world. Karen’s dedication to fair representations of gender, gender equity, racial, and cultural diversity in entertainment continues, onscreen and off.
Outstanding Achievement in Business Award: Mary Bredin, Evp of Content & Strategy, Guru Studios
Mary Bredin has built her 25-year career by developing, executive producing, and acquiring content around the globe. She has tirelessly championed bold, international business strategies while maintaining the importance of developing quality ground-breaking content. Mary has brought a creative business sense to every role — including her time at Nelvana, Telefilm Canada, Canal +, and Pmmp in Paris. In London, Mary worked at Disney for 8 years where she built a team of global Disney Channel Executives, creating a framework for programming and acquisitions that is still used today.
In 2007, Mary joined Guru Studio to lead the Original Content department, beginning with “Justin Time,” then “Dinopaws.” She most recently developed and executive produced the series “True and the Rainbow Kingdom” — a Netflix Original that launched globally in August 2017. Her mission to export the best of Canadian content to the world still gives Mary great pride and energy even after 25 years.
Digital Trailblazer Award: Diane Williamson, President, Digital Wizards
Diane Williamson has enjoyed a long career working in production, operations, and project management. Her introduction to digital was at CBC where she worked with Industry Canada scientists to set up the first cbc.ca website in 1993. CBC was recognized at the time as the first broadcaster in the world to put audio on the internet.
Later, as Founder and Executive Producer at Digital Wizards Inc. Diane and her team completed many complex productions, and she had the pleasure of working with many of Canada’s best Producers and Broadcasters.
Diane’s career later took her to The University of Waterloo where she was responsible for the operations of an innovation lab that explored new digital technologies including Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, among others.
Special Jury Award of Distinction: Tonya Williams, Actor/Producer/Director and President, Wilbo Entertainment; Founder, ReelWorld Film Festival
With over 35 years working in the entertainment industry, award-winning actress Tonya Williams has worked in front and behind the camera. After studying in the Drama program at Ryerson University, she started her career in Toronto, Canada. With much success, she soon moved to Los Angeles where her career continued to soar. Tonya is best known for her 20-year starring role as Olivia Hastings on the daytime drama “The Young and The Restless,” where she won numerous awards nationally and internationally, including two NAACP Image Awards and an Actra award of excellence.
Always seeking ways to help emerging racially diverse talent back in Canada, she founded Reelworld Film Festival in 2001. Reelworld has been and continues to be a launching pad for great talent in all areas of the entertainment industry. Through her production company, Wilbo Entertainment, she has had the opportunity to produce and direct, and for five years Tonya sat on the Toronto Film Board where she worked diligently at creating more opportunities for emerging talent. She continues to be a passionate, tenacious advocate for filmmakers of color around the world.
Mary Harron and More to Be Honored at Wift-t’s Crystal Awards was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.