Visionary Producer Christina Jennings Receives the 2018 CFC Award for Creative Excellence

By Cory Angeletti-Szasz ● March 22, 2018 15:45

People mingling around a pool at an event.

The excitement was palpable at the Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills last night as CFC alumni, partners, Board Members, residents of the Telefilm Canada Feature Comedy Exchange and the Slaight Music Residency, distinguished guests and our honouree, Christina Jennings, gathered for our 2018 reception in Los Angeles, co-hosted by Cast & Crew Entertainment Services. This annual event celebrates our alumni accomplishments, as well as our cross-border industry partnerships, which are vital to our success and enable us to create opportunities in the global marketplace for our diverse CFC alumni voices. Our reception this year also celebrated CFC’s 30 th anniversary.

This year, we were extremely proud to present Christina Jennings, founder, chairman and CEO of Shaftesbury, CFC alumna and prolific and visionary producer, with the fifth annual CFC Award for Creative Excellence. This award recognizes and celebrates Jennings’ innovative storytelling, critically and commercially accomplished body of work, and her creative and business contributions to the Canadian and international entertainment industries.

Five years ago, we established the CFC Award for Creative Excellence to pay tribute to international visionaries who have made significant creative and entrepreneurial contributions to the screen-based and/or digital industries. We wanted to shine a spotlight on alumni whom we believe have created important works, have achieved artistic excellence and who have had a significant impact internationally.

Like previous award recipients (Semi Chellas [2014], Graeme Manson and John Fawcett [2015], Don McKellar [2016], and Clement Virgo and Damon D’Oliveira [2017]), Jennings is a remarkable Canadian creator and entrepreneur who has had an impact globally with her groundbreaking, award-winning and indelible content.

A woman speaking at a podium.

Roma Khanna speaks at CFC's 2018 reception in LA. Photo by Jesse Grant.

Wednesday evening’s festivities began with a warm welcome from Roma Khanna (CFC Board Member, CEO of REVOLT Media & TV and the MC for the evening), who thanked guests, including James Villeneuve, Consul General of Canada, Los Angeles, for their support of the CFC. Following a few remarks from Villeneuve, CFC CEO Slawko Klymkiw took to the podium to share a few words about the CFC and our annual L.A. reception, “I am delighted to see so many of our alumni here tonight. They continue to enrich the global entertainment landscape. And while the projects and talent may be Canadian, our alumni are exploring stories that reflect an international experience and perspective and they are helping to cross many borders and break down barriers.” He continued, “Nothing makes us happier than seeing our CFC alumni achieve great heights and celebrating their talent is one of the key reasons for tonight’s reception as we present the annual CFC Award for Creative Excellence.”

"While the projects and talent may be Canadian, our alumni are exploring stories that reflect an international experience and perspective and they are helping to cross many borders and break down barriers."

- Slawko Klymkiw


A man speaks at a podium at an event.

James Villeneuve, Consul General of Canada, Los Angeles, speaks at CFC's 2018 reception in LA. Photo by Jesse Grant.

Khanna then took to the stage again to share some personal stories of Jennings. “What is Christina Jennings to me?” she began. “She is a formidable woman. She is a formidable businessperson. She has been a beacon, an icon, a mentor, a partner, a friend.”

Khanna then called CFC Founder and Chair Emeritus Norman Jewison to the podium to present Jennings with the evening’s honour. “Christina, it was 28 years ago when you graduated from the [Canadian] film centre. And I tell you, in the ensuing years, you have exceeded all of my imaginations,” shared Jewison.

"Christina, it was 28 years ago when you graduated from the [Canadian] film centre. And I tell you, in the ensuing years, you have exceeded all of my imaginations."

- Norman Jewison

CFC Founder on CFC alumna Christina Jennings

He continued, “You have created one of the best, one of the largest production companies in Canada. I think this is a great tribute tonight because in a way it’s a cycle. You have not only graduated from the [Canadian film] centre, not only created so many productions and employed so many graduates of the centre, but you are now Chairman of the board! I mean, isn’t that something?”

Jewison added, looking at Christina, “I tell you, in the last 30 years, this is one of the most exciting moments for me, to present you with this award!”

A woman is presented with an award while standing at a podium.

CFC Founder Norman Jewison presents Christina Jennings with the 2018 CFC Award for Creative Excellence. Photo by Jesse Grant.

Jennings was then welcomed to the podium to accept her award, which was created by another CFC alumna, Gail Harvey, whom Jennings has collaborated with on many projects, and Toronto-based graphic artist Riad.

Harvey shared her inspirations for the artwork on the award before the event, explaining that “Christina Jennings is a genius visionary, who is kind, loving, and who sees the world. I wanted this award to show her vision, and be a reflection of the CFC world, and the opportunity presented itself with the eye. A reflection. On one's career and life, showing the magnitude of her sight and artistry. A literal reflection of who she is and what she has achieved.”

A woman speaks at a podium.

Christina Jennings shares remarks with guests at CFC's 2018 LA reception after being presented with the 2018 CFC Award for Creative Excellence. Photo by Jesse Grant.

After accepting her award, Jennings took a moment to reflect on the path she took to get to the CFC, quoting a line from Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

“Now you may be asking, ‘What does a poem by Robert Frost have to do with the CFC?’” said Christina. “Well, I was actually at a fork in the road in my life almost 30 years ago when I called Peter O’Brien at the film centre and I decided to come up to the CFC. And it has absolutely made a huge difference in my life.”

She continued, “I am eternally grateful to the CFC. It taught me that all of these disparate parts of Christina actually made a pretty good producer. It taught me to have confidence in my own ideas and my own projects. There’s no question that the CFC kick-started my career.” Jennings went on to explain that her first film, Camilla, was made as a direct result of the relationship that she built with British producer Simon Relph at the CFC. She also shared how she is proud of everything that she has produced and every creative partnership she has had over the course of her career. “So, 30 years have gone by – I’m still loving this business and there is no apparent end in sight.”

Thank goodness for that, because we look forward to seeing what comes next for Christina Jennings.

Following the award presentation, guests continued to network and mingle while enjoying food and beverages. Thank you to our reception co-host, Cast & Crew Entertainment Services, for their continued support of CFC.

See more photos from our 2018 LA reception HERE.

Read our profile on Christina Jennings’ career and her company, Shaftesbury, HERE

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Cory Angeletti-Szasz

Interim Director, Marketing & Communications