A ‘Picture-Perfect’ Soiree: The 2017 CFC Annual Garden Party

By Margaret DeRosia ● June 09, 2017 11:30

Vase with a rose on a white table.

After months of unseasonably cool and rainy weather, the sun shone freely for the 2017 CFC Annual Garden Party on Wednesday, June 7. It warmed and delighted the 300 guests who attended and made the lush green grounds of Windfields Estate sparkle. 

The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) was proud to partner with our friends, Business for the Arts, who co-hosted this year’s Garden Party. This annual soiree attracts and celebrates our CFC Circle of Supporters, sponsors, talent and many friends. We were honoured to be graced by the presence of our Founder and Chair Emeritus, Norman Jewison, and his wife, Lynne St. David Jewison, as well as The Honourable Eleanor McMahon, Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport; Councillor Jaye Robinson, Ward 25; Gary Slaight, CFC Board Member, President and Chief Executive Officer, Slaight Communications Inc., and patron of The Slaight Family Music Lab; and our friends from Business for the Arts, Chairman Dr. James D. Fleck, O.C., and Nichole Anderson, President and CEO of Business for the Arts.

Four photos: top left is two men smiling; top right is a display of fruit; bottom right is two glasses of wine; bottom left is four people posing and smiling for a candid shot.

Clockwise from top left: Gary Slaight and Robert Foster; theTiki bar of fruit; glasses of white wine and rosé to start the summer; Karmen Lum, Paul Bronfman, Norman Jewison, Lynne St. David-Jewison.

Guests arrived early to bask in the sun and mingle on the Deluxe Terrace. They strolled through the gardens and Northern Dancer Pavilion, with refreshing signature cocktails like blackberry lemonade or rosé in hand. Thanks to our fine food and beverage sponsors, a plethora of passed and stationed appetizers, popcorn bags, cookie counters, and even a Tiki bar of exotic fruits insured no one went hungry.

Our emcee for the evening, Christina Jennings, CFC Board Chair, Chairman and CEO, Shaftesbury, welcomed everyone. She acknowledged our partners from Business for the Arts, a “visionary” national organization whose mandate is to “strengthen arts and culture through a partnership between private and cultural groups.” Jennings encouraged everyone to join the CFC Circle of Supporters, who benefit from early screenings, thanks to our screening event partners Entertainment One Films, Elevation Pictures, VVS Films, Warner Bros. Pictures Canada and the many other distributors who provide us with special advance movie screenings and experiences.

Two photos, a woman (top) and man (bottom), both speaking at a podium.

Our evening's emcee, Christina Jennings, and Slawko Klymkiw welcome guests.

Jennings introduced Slawko Klymkiw, CEO, CFC, to the podium. He thanked the Governments of Canada and Ontario and the City of Toronto for their continued support of the CFC and arts and culture more broadly, inviting The Honourable Eleanor McMahon, Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, to the stage. Minister McMahon expressed our sentiments when she said it was truly a “picture-perfect" evening, and that she was honoured to represent our Premier, Kathleen Wynne, a huge supporter of the CFC and arts and culture.

The Minister began by acknowledging Toronto’s location on the traditional territory of the Indigenous peoples for generations past, showing respect for their countless contributions and recognizing the role of treaty-making in what is now Ontario. This acknowledgement drew warm, appreciative applause from the crowd. She then thanked our industry partners and “extraordinary talent,” noting the value and “thrill” of being Canadian in its sesquicentennial year.

Two men and two women standing in front of a wide expanse of land.

L-R: The Honourable Eleanor McMahon; Slawko Klymkiw; Norman Jewison; Lynne St. David-Jewison.

Over the past year, Minister McMahon described how she gained insight into the valuable work of the CFC – a “national jewel” for the training it provides the sector. She acknowledged how much the CFC enhances the sector’s competitiveness, contributing to Ontario’s $2.7 billion-dollar economy and 49,000 jobs in the screen-based entertainment industry in 2016 alone.

Minister McMahon then shared the news that the Ontario Government has renewed its commitment to the CFC with a multi-year funding investment, which certainly made us at the CFC believe it was, as she suggested, “a night for celebrating!"

Klymkiw returned to speak about the CFC’s history of creating successful industry partnerships with the supporters and sponsors who share our commitment to building a strong entertainment business. He then announced the CFC’s newest groundbreaking initiative – the CFC/Bell Media Vision Project.

This initiative will expand the development of both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences at the CFC, which will complement IDEABOOST, our business accelerator supported by our founding partner Corus and funded in part by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. Klymkiw thanked Randy Lennox, President, Bell Media, and Corrie Coe, Senior Vice-President, Original Programming, Bell Media, for their support in nurturing the kinds of creative talent and bold ideas that keep CFC ahead of the curve. As Klymkiw noted, “we could not be happier about this extension of our valued partnership with Bell Media."

Two photos of a woman (left) and a man (right) speaking at a podium.

Nichole Anderson and James D. Fleck, O.C., of Business for the Arts.

Next, Nichole Anderson, President and CEO of Business for the Arts, came to the podium, and described how much Business for the Arts loves the Garden Party, one of their “favourite events of the year.” She acknowledged that “the CFC always seems to be on the cutting edge,” and described how, at Business For the Arts’ Canadian Arts Summit in PEI last month, their keynote speaker, Robert Lepage, stated that the delivery of and engagement with digital tools is central to the advancement of Canadian art – which is exactly one of the practical mandates the CFC implements and incubates daily.

Three photos of people speaking at a podium: top photo is of two men; bottom right is a woman; bottom left is a man.

Top: Chairman James D. Fleck, O.C. with Piers Handling; Bottom Right: Diane Obam Dalliare; Bottom Left: Tony Gagliano.

Anderson introduced Business for the Arts Chairman Dr. James D. Fleck, O.C., who came to the podium to announce three of the Business for the Arts major award winners for 2017: Diane Obam Dallaire, winner of The Arnold Edinborough Award; Piers Handling, winner of The Peter Herrndorf Arts Leadership Award; and Tony Gagliano, winner of the Edmund C. Bovey Award.

In lieu of acceptance speeches, Chairman Fleck asked each of the award winners a question about the arts, film and city-building. With these quick, articulate minds onstage, the guests were treated to a tantalizing set of observations that made us wish we had time for more. For example, Chairman Fleck asked Piers Handling the question, “What is the role of cinema, in today’s trying times of divisiveness, international strife and social challenges?” Handling replied by gesturing to the legacy of Norman Jewison. This legacy has been, as Handling noted, one of making “gutsy, challenging” films that “build bridges” and “open doors to controversial subject matter” – something that we need now more than ever.

Two photos of a woman (top) and a man (bottom) singing and performing.

Slaight Music resident Rebecca Everet (top); Slaight Music artist Sam Drysdale.

To round out the party, we were treated to two exceptional performers, Rebecca Everett, resident of The Slaight Music Residency, and then Slaight Music artist, singer/songwriter Sam Drysdale. We would like to extend our appreciation once more to The Slaight Family Foundation, who recently renewed their commitment to supporting our programs in Music here at the CFC.

Given the resplendent sunshine and evident pleasure of those who were there, this year’s Garden Party had the air of summer’s official start. The evening offered everyone much more than treats, talent and inspiration. As Christina Jennings noted, the Garden Party celebrates our Circle of Supporters, a group of philanthropic individual donors whose contributions to the CFC make our work possible and keep us at the vanguard of new industry developments. They, along with our other sponsors and many friends, enable the CFC to invest in and inspire the next generation of world-class Canadian content creators and entrepreneurs in the screen-based entertainment industry.

Thank you to everyone who attended and to all of our sponsors – relive the magical soiree by enjoying a selection of photos of the event.

Join the CFC Circle of Supporters today! Get sneak peeks at the best films before they hit theatres. And take pride in knowing you’re advancing the groundbreaking work of the CFC and building on Norman Jewison’s legacy for the future.

Special thanks to our media sponsor, Toronto Life.

All photos courtesy of David Lee.

  Photographer in centre of a large group of people, some standing, some sitting at tables, listensing attentively.

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Margaret DeRosia

Communications Specialist/Digital Writer & Editor