By Julie Williamson
The glittery prestige of this year’s Oscar ceremonies got in the way of an awards ceremony at Ryerson.
The school of radio and television arts was forced to postpone the presentation of an award to a prominent Canadian film producer.
Robert Lantos, executive producer of Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter, was to receive the J. Stuart MacKay Communicator of the Year Award on March 19.
But The Sweet Hereafter’s nomination for two Oscars, one for best director and one for best screenplay based on material previously published, meant Lantos had to miss the ceremony to be at last Monday’s Academy Awards.
The ceremony to present the J. Stuart MacKay award to Lantos had been moved to the fall.
RTA professor Jetty Good said Lantos “has brought Canada to the rest of the world in terms of films,” as chairman and CEO of Alliance, the largest independent production company in Canada.
“In addition to being financially successful, Robert Lantos has helped give Canadians a voice in films,” Good said, adding Lantos has distributed all of Egoyan’s films.
“In the highly competitive world of film where the US dominates everything, [Lantos] has given Canadians a voice,” said Good.
Lantos was born in Budapest in 1948. He and his family moved to Montreal from Uruguay in 1963. Lantos co-founded an independent motion picture distribution company in 1972 that gradually became Alliance Communications Corp.
Alliance’s productions include the films Exotica and Crash and the television shows Due South and North of 60.
Last year’s J. Stuart MacKay award winner was Johnny Lombardi, president and CEO of CHIN Radio and TV International whom Good called “the father of multicultural broadcasting in Canada.”
The award is named after J. Stuart MacKay, a Canadian broadcaster. Good said the award was designed to honour “someone who has made a contribution to human values in communication,” as Lantos did in helping distribute Canadian films.
Nominations for the award come from across Canada. The final decision is made by RTA’s departmental council, which consists of RTA faculty and students.
The ceremony is usually held at Ryerson in the Rogers Communications Centre, with President Claude Lajeunesse presenting the award.
The first award was given to Pierre Juneau, former chair of the CRTC and former president of the CBC.