Where Stars Are Born: Celebrating the CFC and Its Actors at the 2019 Annual Gala and Auction

Posted: Feb 26, 2019

Downtown Toronto’s Ritz-Carlton Ballroom sparkled all night on Thursday, February 21, as the Canadian Film Centre’s (CFC) 2019 Annual Gala and Auction took place.

The Annual Gala and Auction represent CFC’s largest fundraiser. Through the generous support of our guests – industry luminaries, philanthropists, and CFC donors and sponsors – we raised funds for our renowned programs and initiatives in film, TV, screen acting, screen composing and songwriting, and digital media. 

A series of four images - Clockwise Rotation (A woman taking a picture on the red carpet, a group of four women standing together to take a picture on the red carpet, a man standing inside the ballroom getting his picture taken, a man and woman standing side by side in reception area taking a picture. Clockwise from top left: Amanda Parris; Sharron Matthews, Christina Jennings, Lauren Lee Smith and Rebecca Liddiard; Alice Snaden and Charles Officer; Don McKellar. George Pimentel Photography.

This year’s Gala celebrated 10 years of the CFC’s actors. The program, known since 2016 as the
CBC Actors Conservatory, has produced 81 exceptional alumni and is the only comprehensive, professional on-camera acting program in North America. From the CFC, our actor-alumni have gone on to leading roles, gracing screens around the world. They inspire and animate content, making the stories we tell memorable and building both the CFC and Canada’s reputation worldwide as a vital hub of talent.

A series of two images - Clockwise rotation (Three males standing for a group photo on the red carpet, four females standing together for a group photo in the reception area.L-R: CBC Actors Conservatory residents Daniel Jun, Araya Mengesha and Brandon McKnight; Michelle McLeod, Vivien Endicott-Douglas, Annie Briggs and Nicki Whitley. George Pimentel Photography.

The evening kicked off with an AMC-sponsored cocktail reception, held in the wide-windowed Grand Foyer. After hitting the red carpet and Toronto Life augmented reality photo booth, guests chatted and networked with friends old and new, as well as took in the silent auction – luxury items and bespoke, priceless experiences.

A series of three images - Clockwise Rotation (Two males taking a picture together in the ballroom, two females getting their photos taken in the reception area, a male and female take a photo together in the reception area.)

Clockwise from top left: Mayor John Tory and Slawko Klymkiw (Tom Sandler Photography); Magali Simard and Jen Knox (George Pimentel Photography); Edward Burtynsky and Julia Johnston (George Pimentel Photography).

Next, everyone was ushered into the Grand Ballroom for dinner. The Ballroom’s décor of golden palm fronds, candlelit-centrepieces, and enormous glistening chandeliers like dragonfly wings evoked an exquisite ambience for the soiree.

A series of two images going top to bottom - (A picture of the table setup and view of the ballroom, A picture of speaker talking into the microphone on stage of the gala)Top: The Grand Ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton (Tom Sandler Photography). Bottom: Performer Wali Shah (George Pimentel Photography).

Performer Wali Shah hushed the crowd for a welcome message that paid tribute to the CFC – and flowed into a heartwarming toast from our Founder and Chair Emeritus, Norman Jewison. From there, guests were treated to a moving tribute to CFC talent, a montage of all 81 of our actors in touching and inspiring onscreen scenes.

Evening co-hosts Christina Jennings, Chair of CFC’s Board of Directors and CEO, Shaftesbury, and Slawko Klymkiw, CEO, CFC, then took to the stage to welcome attendees and emcee the night’s festivities. Klymkiw noted that “our actors inspire and animate Canadian content, making the stories we tell memorable, and bringing Canadian talent onto a global stage.”

A series of two images - top to bottom (A shot of a man standing on stage introducing himself to the crowd, a picture of a female and male smiling)Top: Slawko Klymkiw welcomes guests
at dinner. Bottom: Gary Slaight, President and CEO of Slaight Communications, and Donna Slaight. Tom Sandler Photography.

Klymkiw continued, adding that “this year, more than 60 CFC alumni are up for Canadian Screen Awards for their work on projects and productions, and one of our most recent alumnus from the Cineplex Film Program Producers’ Lab, Evren Boisjoili, was the producer for
Fauve, nominated for Best Live Action Short Film at this year’s Oscars.”

The co-hosts also added special thanks on behalf of the wider CFC: to presenting sponsors Netflix and The Slaight Family Foundation; to title sponsor CBC, as well as the Government of Ontario, The Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation and RBC Emerging Artists Project for their continued support of the Actors Conservatory; and to special guests Vincent Ke, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Mayor John Tory, Councillor Jaye Robinson, and Mayor Frank Scarpitti.

A series of two images - From top to bottom (An image of a female performer singing into the microphone while guitarist is playing beside her, a picture of three males performing on stage together including lead singer in the middle that is accompanied by a guitarist on the left and a pianist on the right)Top: Ava Kay. Bottom: Sam Drysdale. George Pimentel Photography).

Jennings then introduced our first stellar performer,
Ava Kay, an alumna of the Slaight Music Residency, whose pure crystalline voice enchanted the audience, and later, our second performer, Slaight Music Artist Sam Drysdale, wowed the crowd.

A series of two images - from top to bottom (A close up shot of a man holding the golden raffle tickets, a picture of an auctioneer calling out the winner for the golden raffle ticket.)Top: Live Auction “Golden Ticket” raffle tickets (George Pimentel Photography). Special Guest Auctioneer Stephen Ranger (Tom Sandler Photography).

After the delectable dinner (a choice of fall-off-the-bone brisket or aromatic mushroom risotto), one of the evening’s highlights commenced – the announcement of the winning Golden Ticket! This year, instead of diving straight into the Live Auction with beloved Guest Auctioneer Stephen Ranger, one lucky person drew the winning raffle ticket to select one of four Live Auction packages before bidding began – in this case, the winner selected being flown out to Los Angeles for a two-night stay and prime seat at the sure-to-be-unforgettable Season 16 finale of The Voice.

Fast and furious bidding ensued on the other Live Auction packages, and after, guests returned to the Grand Foyer to enjoy coffee, fine teas, and a spread of picture-perfect desserts at the dessert bar. Guests were able to put in their last-minute bids on the silent auction while sampling light and fluffy meringues.

A series of two images - from top to bottom (A picture of a woman grabbing desserts from different platters, a picture of different items that were apart of the silent auction.)Top: AMC’s dessert bar (Tom Sandler Photography). Bottom: A sample of Silent Auction Experience Packages (George Pimentel Photography).

Then it was time to guests to share their fond farewells until the next CFC event. As most in attendance would concur, the evening afforded a glamorous setting for celebrating the CFC’s talent, a home for nurturing Canadian talent across the screen entertainment spectrum.

Thank you to our sponsors, donors, gala guests and volunteers below who contributed to making the 2019 CFC Annual Gala & Auction possible. Your support enables us to inspire the next generation of world-class filmmakers, TV writers, actors, composers, songwriters and digital media entrepreneurs to go beyond barriers, beyond borders and beyond expectations.

Enjoy the evening’s magic once more in this photo gallery.

Thank you to all of our CFC Annual Gala and Auction sponsors



The Slaight Family Foundation


AMC – Cocktail/Dessert Reception Sponsor


Boat Rocker Media

Cast & Crew Canada


Cineplex Entertainment

Cinespace Studios


Craft Toronto

Entertainment One

First Studio City

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment


Scotia Wealth Management

Thunderbird Entertainment


Highway Entertainment


Super Channel

Roy Foss Motors

TriBro Studios


AGF Management Limited

Blue Ice Pictures

Board Members Steven DeNure & John Riley

Copyright Collective of Canada


Stereo D

EP Canada

Dufferin Gate

The Backlot Film Studios


Apple Canada


Maple Leaf Strategies



SIM International

The Jewison Family

William F. White International Inc.



BFL Canada Risk and Insurance Services Inc.

Buchli Goldstein LLP

Goodmans LLP

Harold Greenberg Fund


Toronto Life
Toronto Star

National Post

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