Donor Spotlight: Sonny Goldstein

Posted: Feb 9, 2023

Headshot of a man wearing a suit, tie and glasses.

Sonny Goldstein is a longstanding donor of the Canadian Film Centre. He has been in the financial services industry for 56 years, which is how he originally met and became friends with CFC founder Norman Jewison. The introduction was made by his close friend Ron Barbaro, who was also close friends with Norman and George Cohen. Sonny considered this trio the three amigos and would tag along with them whenever he had the opportunity. When Sonny did a roast of Ron at a sales congress years ago, he had Norman as roaster, and Sonny still fondly remembers the great job Norman did!

Sonny watched as Norman built the CFC from the very beginning and was inspired by his work, and got involved in the organization as soon as he was able to. “I am very interested in what Norman is doing for the Canadian film industry,” shared Sonny. “I think it’s a great thing what the [Canadian] Film Centre is doing to help train Canadian talent and help break them into the industry.”

We caught up with Sonny to discuss his involvement with the CFC and why supporting Canadian talent is so important to him. Read on in the spotlight below.

How did you originally get involved with the film industry?

The theatre and film industries have been my passion forever. I did a lot of amateur theatre and now I own 40% of a film production studio. We have done a lot of award-winning documentaries in the past, including The Pagan Christ, Supervolcano: Yellowstone’s Fury, and The Gangster Next Door, and then we decided to try and get into features.Now that things are coming back from COVID, we have a couple of things on the go that we are now pitching. We are currently working with Canadian talent and are looking at shooting in Vancouver, as there are a lot of talented people out there.

What inspired you to start giving to the Canadian Film Centre?

When Norman started the Canadian Film Centre, I wasn’t able to get involved immediately, but once I was in a financial position to contribute, I became a donor. I felt I owed it to Norman and I agreed so much with what he was doing at the [Canadian] Film Centre, so I joined as a member. A lot of my friends were already there and supporting. The connection with Norman and what they were doing for Canadian talent was what inspired me to start donating.

I’ve watched the Film Centre’s progress from the beginning when Norman was getting the property donated and getting tax concessions so he could carry on and the Centre has grown exponentially from there.

Why is it important for you to support Canadian talent and the screen-based industry?

Because its an uphill battle to break into major film production. Hollywood is maybe a bit cliquish, but you have to know somebody to get any kind of a break, because the power is so concentrated. We have to continue to build our own industry in Canada, so we aren’t going cap in hand to Los Angeles and trying to get stuff made or shown. I know that only too well.

What do you hope you accomplish through your philanthropy?

Getting our Canadian film industry recognized and a real platform for Canadian talent. It’s there now but it still needs to grow even more. There are two main reasons its there now – one is that we do have talent and the other is that Norman has provided a place for that talent to be encourage, to be trained, and to flourish. And I think it is important to support that.

If you were talking to someone else about giving to the CFC, what would you tell them?

I would try and impress upon them how important it is that we do this for our Canadian talent. The talent is here and somebody has to help them. Right now there is not enough support. We have an opportunity to invest in something that is tax-deductible as a donor and so helpful to an industry that needs help. For me, that makes it a no-brainer. We need to support our Canadian film industry and the I think the Film Centre is right at the core of that.

As the CFC enters its 35th year, what do you hope the CFC will achieve in the years to come?

I think bringing all the programs together even more so now. I’m already impressed with the success so far and now you just need to keep building on it. The more donors that we have to do that, the better and easier it will be to be successful.

What are you watching right now? Or what are some of your favourite movies or series?

I haven’t had time to watch anything lately. I’ve been busy working on my own projects. I think we have a lot of great stuff here in Canada that doesn’t get enough attention. We just need to tell people to watch what is coming out of the Film Centre. Support it because it is necessary, its good for the Canadian film industry, and its really good for these people who really need a place to learn and produce product and get stuff done.

Interested in learning more about and joining the CFC Circle of Supporters? Click here for more information.

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