When I heard that the Genie and Gemini Awards were going to be combined into one award, I thought it was a good idea. I was waiting for an announcement to come to ‘name’ this new award, but it never came. The Canadian Screen Awards… okay, it sounds like an official title, like the Academy Awards, but where is the nickname – like Oscar?
The very first award to showcase Canadian film was the very innocuous sounding Canadian Film Awards, so the new name is not that much of a stretch. The Canadian Film Awards (from 1949 to 1979) had become known unofficially as the Etrog Awards – no I didn’t make that up – because of the last name of the designer of the statuette. In 1980, the CFA changed to the Genie Award – a nice name and more in line with the country’s music award – the Juno.
The very first award to showcase Canadian television was the ACTRA Awards in 1972 – the acronym standing for the union of performers, writers and professionals working in Canadian film and television. This continued until 1986 when it changed to the Gemini Award – again, very much phonetically in line with the Genie and the Juno. ACTRA Awards continue today, but they are regional awards and more for activism within the industry rather than for performances.
In 2013, both the Genie and the Gemini Awards have been combined into the new Canadian Screen Awards – with no nickname. I really think they need one, if not for both, then one for film and one for television. I like Genie and Gemini and although I understand the need and desire to combine them, in order to make them even more accessible to the public, they need a catchy name – God knows Canadian film needs every publicity angle it can sink itself into.If no nickname is assigned to these new awards at the earliest of its existence, you may still see Genie Award refer to the film winners and Gemini Award refer to the television winners – that’s not all bad, they were simple, good names to begin with. The statuette has changed as well – a little more of a flourish added to the original Genie Award (which was a simple, unique design).
Back in the days of the 1980s and 1990s, when Canadian film and television seemed to be at their peak (or maybe when I was just naïve and young), I watched both the Genie and Gemini Awards. At the time, I thought they were incredibly important as a way to help promote Canadian film and television (much like music’s Junos). Again, maybe I was just caught up in pop culture at the time. I didn’t know how my life was going to unfold, but in some weird way, I wanted to receive one of them. Now, it would be an honour to receive one. To be acknowledged by your peers for work that you have done in your own country, for me, would be a career highlight.