Oscar Peterson doc wins four Canadian Screen Awards; director Barry Avrich apologizes for acceptance speech
Winning the directing prize for his documentary on Oscar Peterson at the Canadian Screen Awards, Barry Avrich said “There are so many Black stories in Canada that need to be told. It doesn’t matter who tells them, we just need to tell them.” The @BLKScreenOffice responds … pic.twitter.com/fvCOSU3djW
— NOW Magazine (@nowtoronto) April 7, 2022
Holness added: “Who gets to tell our story is as vital as the story itself.”
The Reelworld Film Festival and the Indigenous Screen Office also responded to Avrich’s remark, with the former calling the comments “extremely disheartening.”
“For decades, white directors have enjoyed the privilege of telling Black, Indigenous, Asian and South Asian stories with no reproach,” the Reelworld Film Festival said in a statement. “Diverse creators have fought — with much effort and little success — to receive equitable access to funds and distribution to tell the stories of their communities. Only in the past few years has the industry at large recognized this oversight and made efforts to give some control and support to those artists.”
The Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, which runs the Canadian Screen Awards, addressed Avrich’s speech in its own statement posted to Twitter.
“This week has mostly been a joyful celebration of a diverse set of nominees and winners … who are producing work that is imaginative, world class and authentic,” it said. “It is clear, however, that there is still much work to be done in dismantling the system that has stood in the way of diverse voices being rightfully heard. It does matter.”
The Academy would like to address the harmful words spoken by a winner in The Documentary & Factual Awards on Monday night.
Read “Being Seen” here: https://t.co/MElWFTrtn6 pic.twitter.com/FrTyNGfDA3
— The Canadian Academy (@TheCdnAcademy) April 7, 2022
At the Canadian Screen Awards, producer Mark Selby also claimed the Barbara Sears Award for best visual research. The sound department of Doug McClement, Richard Spence-Thomas, Teresa Morrow and Gary Vaughan won the title of best sound, non-fiction.
The documentary was also nominated for best writing, documentary, and best picture editing, documentary. Both of those awards went to TVO’s Ghosts of Afghanistan.
With a total of six nominations, the film earned the most nods of any documentary this year.
Oscar Peterson: Black + White traces the legendary Canadian pianist’s ascent into the upper echelons of jazz royalty, while also focusing on the racism he faced throughout his career and the mentorship he provided to younger musicians. The documentary features interviews with and performances by Quincy Jones, Jon Batiste, Ramsey Lewis, Billy Joel, Dave Young, Larnell Lewis, Jackie Richardson, Herbie Hancock, Branford Marsalis, Robi Botos and more.