Presented at the 2018 Alberta Film & Television Awards
Bonnie Thompson is a veteran National Film Board of Canada producer, working with media makers and producers on a slate of documentary, interactive, and animation productions, out of the North West Studio. With over 70 credits, Thompson’s productions have been broadcast on national and international television, shown on the web, and screened at festivals in Canada and around the world.
Thompson’s productions include Birth of a Family, which premiered at 2017 Hot Docs Film Festival; Skin for Skin, a short animated film which premiered at 2017 Fantasia; the feature documentary Angry Inuk, which won many awards including the Hot Docs Audience Award and the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival’s annual Canada’s Top 10 Festival; the animated short Wild Life, nominated for an Academy Award; the online interactive web documentary, Bear 71, which won a Webby and was named FWA Site of the Year; and WALL, recently selected to screen in competition at the prestigious Annecy Animation Festival. After thirty plus years, Bonnie retired from the NFB in March of 2018.
(awarded posthumously) 1923 – 2016
Presented at the 2017 Alberta Film & Television Awards
Cowboy, artist, storyteller and pioneering Canadian filmmaker; director, animator, producer, mentor and collaborator at the National Film Board of Canada, Colin Low was born in Cardston, AB on the borders on the Kainai Nation Indian Reservation, which became a subject of two of his later films. Low attended the Banff School of Fine Arts and the Calgary Institute of Technology, now known as SAIT. His career at the National Film Board of Canada in Montreal spanned over six decades, on more than 200 productions, most often as director, producer or executive producer. IMAX 3D exists as a format largely due to the initiatives of Colin Low, who headed the National Film Board’s push to continue its experimentation in 3D during the 1970s and 80s. Mr. Low earned two Oscar nominations as a producer, and worked on another six Oscar-nominated films.
Colin’s personal theories and opinions on the value of an extra large screen and the logical compatibility of IMAX and 3D were presented to the Society of Motion Picture and Television engineers. Colin’s sustained energy in promoting and testing his theories over the course of more than a decade led directly to the creation of the first IMAX 3D film for Expo 86. Low received his second Palme d’Or for best short film at the Cannes Film Festival, along with another BAFTA award and Oscar nomination for his 1957 documentary, City of Gold, on the Klondike Gold Rush, co-directed with Wolf Koenig. City of Gold made use of slow pans and zooms across archival photos and has been cited by Ken Burns as a key inspiration for the so-called ‘Ken Burns’ effect.
In 1960, Low and Roman Kroitor co-directed Universe, capturing the attention of Stanley Kubrick, who was preparing to make 2001: A Space Odyssey. Low was invited to work on 2001: A Space Odyssey but had to decline due to his work on “In the Labyrinth”, an experimental multi-screen production for Expo 67 though some of Low’s ideas were incorporated into Kubrick’s film. Collective brainstorming in the aftermath of “In the Labyrinth” gave rise to the inspiration that created the IMAX format, which overcame the technical challenges of multi-screen projection by combining them of a single large negative. Low was involved in a series of firsts in the wide-screen genre. He co-directed the first IMAX 3D production Transitions for Expo 86 in Vancouver, as well as co-directing Momentum, the first film shot and projected in 48 frames per second IMAX HD for Expo 92 in Seville, Spain – anticipating HFR cinema by more than two decades.
Colin Low excelled at the kind of informative, intimate documentaries of ordinary people’s lives for which the National Film Board became world famous. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously during the Rosies Gala and 43rd Alberta Film and Television Awards.
(awarded posthumously) 1945 – 2013
Presented at the 2013 Alberta Film & Television Awards
Marg Pullishy has been part of the film and television industry in Edmonton for over three decades. It was as a regular contributor in front of the camera with CFRN in 1983 that she first introduced audiences to “Wednesday’s Child,” which highlighted the pressing need for adoption in the province. Marg continued to bring the stories of Wednesday’s children to the forefront, serving as producer for the popular segments up until earlier in 2013. During her tenure Marg worked with over 1,000 Children, each year 70% of those featured found a home. “Wednesday’s Child” continues to run on CTV across the province.
Marg continued to expand her career by putting her skills and experience to use in helping the next generation of broadcasters learn their craft. As a journalism instructor for the NAIT radio and television arts program, her influence helped guide the formative years of many of the personalities on TV in Edmonton and abroad.
Her contributions to the media industry weren’t limited to the broadcast sector. Marg held many positions at Edmontonians magazine, including senior editor, writer, photographer, business coach, and first editorial manager of the famous Sizzling Twenty under 30.
This is only a small outline of Marg’s career and doesn’t account for the fact that she ran a successful communications business and spent countless hours serving on volunteer fundraising boards and committees, and organizing charity events.
It’s fair to say that one thing that has been a constant and recurring theme throughout her 30 plus years in the business is that her body of work was based on giving – whether it was a voice for those who had none, her insight and knowledge to the next generation, or her support for others less fortunate. Hers was a career, and lifetime, full of achievement and worthy of award.
Presented at the 29th Annual Alberta Film & Television Awards – 2003
In over 100 motion pictures and more than 1500 television appearances, Leslie Nielsen built a reputation portraying manly authority figures before turning his image inside out as the loopy doctor in Airplane! (1980). Always successful, his career soared anew with a series of Naked Gun features, sitcoms and stage appearances. His most recent work includes the ice-curling comedy Men With Brooms, and as the program host for the new Comedy Network series Liography on Canada’s Comedy Network where he and his guests parody the endless parade of television programs that breathlessly celebrate the triumphs and woes of celebrity’s lives.
Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, the son of a Canadian Mounted Policeman, Nielsen spent his earliest years living near the Arctic Circle. After graduating from Victoria Composite High School (now the Victoria School of the Performing and Visual Arts), he joined the RCAF. After his military service Leslie made his first entry into show business at the Calgary radio station CKXL where he worked as an engineer, disc jockey and announcer. He then studied acting at Lorne Greene’s Academy of Radio Arts in Toronto, where he received a scholarship to the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City. He studied acting under Sanford Meisner, dancing with Martha Graham, and followed up with a season of summer stock and further training at the Actor’s Studio.
His television career began in 1950 with a Studio One appearance with Charlton Heston, and he went on to act in 46 live programs that year in the very heart of what has become known as TV’s Golden Age. “But there was very little gold,” he maintains. “We only got $75 or $100 per show.” In 1954 Nielsen was brought to Hollywood by Paramount Pictures to star in Michael Curtiz’s The Vagabond King. This was followed by a long-term contract at MGM where he starred in such films as Ransom!, The Opposite Sex, and The Sheepman. Later loaned to Universal, he essayed the role of the bachelor opposite Debbie Reynolds in Tammy and the Bachelor, and is still remembered by that studio as a top money maker. Subsequently, he starred on stage opposite Carol Burnett in Love Letters, and between films did the one-man show Darrow on a national tour of the United States and Canada in 1999 and 2000.
In 1995, as a testimonial to his comedic abilities, Nielsen was awarded UCLA’s Jack Benny Award following in the footsteps of Johnny Carson, Steve Martin, Whoopie Goldberg, George Burns and Carol Burnett. In June 2001 he was given a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame. In October 2002 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. A major investor and supporter of children’s programming, he is the narrator for several popular animated series. In addition, he has volunteered with various goodwill organizations, notably as a spokesmen for UNICEF Canada’s Change for Good Program.
He devotes much of his off-screen time to his second career as a loafer/golfer. In addition to an ever-growing multitude of film fans, he has become the duffer’s hero, with a number of items conceived to make them feel better about themselves. Among these are Nielsen’s best selling golf videos, Leslie Nielsen’s Bad Golf Made Easier (1993) and Leslie Nielsen’s Bad Golf My Way (1994). In 1995 Doubleday published Leslie Nielsen’s Stupid Little Golf Book, which became a video of the same name in the summer of 1998. “I have no goals or ambition,” says Nielsen. “I do, however, wish to work enough to maintain whatever celebrity status I have so that they will continue to invite me to golf tournaments.”
Presented at the 30th Annual Alberta Film & Television Awards – 2004
Eugene Levy is the Emmy and recent Grammy Award winner whose comedic acting and writing has been enjoyed by millions for over thirty years. Today he is perhaps best known to many as the go-with-the-flow father in the American Pie trilogy, where he is identified simply as ‘Jim’s Dad’. But Eugene Levy will always be fondly remembered by Albertans for his years with SCTV, which was filmed in Edmonton.
Levy was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario. He enrolled at McMaster University and attended with future SCTV colleagues Dave Thomas and Martin Short as well as Ivan Reitman and illusionist Doug Henning. An amazing assemblage at a university that offered no film, drama or television credit courses!
Immediately following college, Levy worked as ‘the coffee boy’ on Reitman’s first feature film Foxy Lady, then appeared in several cameo roles. He made his starring debut opposite Andrea Martin in Reitman’s 1973 horror comedy Cannibal Girls.
Levy appeared onstage in the Toronto production of Godspell and later replaced Victor Garber in the lead role. Several months later he became a member of Toronto’s Second City troupe, which eventually landed its own television show SCTV. Eugene Levy was one of the writers on the hit comedy series, which ran from 1976 to 1984, with the last five years being produced and filmed out of the ITV Studios (now Global) in Edmonton.
For SCTV Levy created numerous memorable characters, including Earl Camembert, Bobby Bittman, Alex Trebel, Sid Dithers, Gus Gustopherson and Stan Schmenge. His writing on the series won him two Emmy Awards, in 1982 and 1983, for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program.
The past twenty years have seen Levy act in many feature film and television comedies, including Christopher Guest’s Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, and A Mighty Wind, where he shared the writing credits on all three films. For the theme song from A Mighty Wind Levy won a 2004 Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media. For his acting in that film he won the Best Supporting Actor Award from the New York Film Critics Circle in 2003.
Other film credits include Dumb & Dumberer, Like Mike, Splash, Armed and Dangerous, Almost Heroes, Down to Earth, Father of the Bride 2, Mulitplicity, and Bringing Down the House. He will be seen in the upcoming New York Minute with Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, and is going into production in Toronto on The Man, opposite Samuel L. Jackson.
Other television credits include Mad About You, The Drew Carey Show, The Last Polka, The Enigma of Bobby Bittman (which he also wrote and directed), Maniac Mansion (producer), and Sodbusters (which he co-wrote and directed). He played Gil Bender in the Fox Television series Greg the Bunny.
He made his directing debut in 1988 on the SCTV 15th Anniversary Special for Showtime. Subsequently, he served as writer and executive producer for Showtime’s The Enigma of Bobby Bittman and I, Martin Short, Goes Hollywood. He also directed the 1994-95 season of NBC’s Martin Short series, and has served as executive producer, writer and performer on HBO’s The Last Polka and Maniac Mansion for Lucasfilm Television.