Ten Canadian women directors and actors who have had an outstanding year have been selected by a pan-Canadian jury of journalists specializing in the arts, culture and entertainment. The 10 women will be honoured on September 10 at the Birks  store on Bloor Street West in Toronto during the second Birks Diamond Tribute to the Year’s Women in Film, presented in partnership with Telefilm Canada .
The honourees include:
- Jennifer Baichwal
- Ric Esther Bienstock
- Marie-Hélène Cousineau
- Madeline Piujuq Ivalu
- Nancy Florence Savard
- Anne Dorval
- Tatiana Maslany
- Sophie Nélisse
- Molly Parker
- Cobie Smulders
“At a time when the eyes of the world are on the Toronto International Film Festival, we want to highlight the enormous contribution made by these women to the dynamism of Canadian cinema,” said Carolle Brabant, Executive Director of Telefilm. “Their careers have been marked by awards and honours, and their talent contributes to Canada’s cultural success at home and abroad. We thank Birks for this innovative public-private partnership to promote Canadian talent.”
Eva Hartling, Vice-President Marketing, Birks Group Inc., added: “The essence of the Birks brand lies in its Canadian heritage. We are therefore proud to continue our partnership with Telefilm Canada in order to highlight Canadian women’s important contribution to the film industry.”
2014 recipients of the Birks Diamond Tribute to the Year’s Women in Film
- Jennifer Baichwal, documentary director and producer, co-directed Watermark, which rated as a New York Times Critics’ Pickand took home the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award presented by the Toronto Film Critics Association, as well as the Canadian Screen Award and the Ted Rogers Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary.
- Ric Esther Bienstock is a documentary director and producer, whose credits include Tales from the Organ Trade, which was nominated for two Emmy Awards. The film received the Global Awareness Award and the intermedia-globe Gold Award at the WorldMediaFestival in Germany and the Golden Sheaf Award for Social/Political Documentary at the Yorkton Film Festival.
- Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Inuit director and actor Madeline Piujuq Ivalu co-directed Uvanga, which screened at 14 festivals across Canada and around the world. Their debut co-directorial effort, Before Tomorrow (2008), received the CityTV Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival and nine Genie Award nominations, including Best Motion Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress (Madeline Piujuq Ivalu).
- Anne Dorval, a popular film and television performer, is one of Xavier Dolan’s favourite actresses, notably starring in his international hit film Mommy. Last year, she also appeared in the films The Rooster of St-Victor and Miraculum and in the television series Les Parent.
- Tatiana Maslany, actor, was notably acclaimed for her role in Orphan Black, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination and the 2013 and 2014 Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series. She also appeared in the series Cracked and starred in the film Cas & Dylan.
- Sophie Nélisse, actor, attracted attention in The Book Thief, which earned her several prestigious nominations for such a young performer as well as the 2013 Hollywood Spotlight Award. She will also be remembered for her performance in Monsieur Lazhar, nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. She is currently shooting the film Pawn Sacrifice.
- Molly Parker, actor, who garnered acclaim for her role in House of Cards, also appeared in the series Deadwood and The Firm. Her credits include many films for cinema and television, including the 2013 Canadian feature Hold Fast.
- Nancy Florence Savard, writer, director and producer, directed the first Canadian 3D animated feature film, The Legend of Sarila, which has been sold in 20 territories around the world and was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award and two Jutra Awards. She also recently produced the feature The Rooster of St-Victor.
- Cobie Smulders, star of How I Met Your Mother, played opposite Vince Vaughn in Delivery Man, the American remake of Starbuck. In 2014, she appeared in the films Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Lego Movie and They Came Together. She is the star of The Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise.
The pan-Canadian jury is made up of renowned journalists covering the arts, culture and entertainment: Katie Bailey (Playback), Linda Barnard (Toronto Star), Maxime Demers (Le Journal de Montréal), Manon Dumais (freelance journalist), Noreen Flanagan (Elle Canada), Teri Hart (The Movie Network), Brian Johnson (Maclean’s), Tanya Lapointe (CBC/Radio-Canada), Marc-André Lussier (La Presse), Katherine Monk (Postmedia), Andrea Nemetz (The Chronicle Herald), Odile Tremblay (Le Devoir) and Marni Weisz (Cineplex Magazine).
The jury selected the women to be honoured based on the impact of their work and their talent, the recognition they have received from respected organizations and their peers, and the visibility they generated for Canada this past year. Nominees were also required to have either directed or appeared in a production during that year.
FanZone – Since this is an invitation-only event, there will be a FanZone set up in front of the Birks store at 55 Bloor Street West in Toronto. The public can come see the honourees on the red carpet, starting at 4 p.m. on September 10.
Collaboration between Telefilm and Birks – This is the fourth event organized by Telefilm and Birks to honour Canadian women directors and actors. In 2012, they paid tribute to Canadian women in film at the Toronto International Film Festival, in an event held at the Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto. Also in 2012, the Birks Canadian Diamond  was awarded at Telefilm Canada’s Tribute to Canadian Talent event at the Cannes Film Festival. And in 2013, the inaugural Birks Diamond Tribute to the Year’s Women in Film  was launched at the Toronto International Film Festival.