Founded in 1979, the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television (ACCT) is a national non-profit professional association dedicated to the promotion, recognition and celebration of exceptional achievements in Canada’s film, television and digital media industries. It administers the Canadian Screen Awards (formerly the Genie and Gemini Awards), which honour the achievements of Canada’s film and English-language TV industries, and the Prix Gémeaux, which honour Canada’s French-language TV industry.
The Academy’s multi-faceted mandate is to: honour outstanding achievements in Canadian film, television and digital media; heighten public awareness and increase audience attendance, viewership and appreciation of Canadian screen productions through awards shows, social media channels and activities; preserve and promote Canada’s film, television and digital media industries; and provide a wide range of industry-related professional development events.
Dissatisfied with the international jury system of the Canadian Film Awards, and inspired by the growth of the Canadian film industry during the tax-shelter years, a small group of Canadian filmmakers — Ron Cohen, Andra Sheffer, Robert Lantos, Paul Hoffert and George Appleby — began in late 1978 to organize an Academy-style professional association to celebrate and promote filmmaking in Canada. The group recruited Bill Marshall, co-founder of the Toronto Festival of Festivals (now the Toronto International Film Festival) and president of the Canadian Association of Motion Picture Producers, and together they incorporated the Academy of Canadian Cinema in 1979.
The Academy attracted 100 founding members, all working professionals in the industry. It absorbed the Canadian Film Awards and created in their place the Genie Awards, which were first held in 1980. In 1986, the Academy changed its name to the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television after it took over the original ACTRA Awards and rebranded them the Gemini Awards, which honoured achievements in Canada’s English-language television industry. In 1987, the Academy founded the Prix Gémeaux, which awards the achievements of Canada’s French-language television industry.
In 2003, the Academy added digital media categories to the Gemini Awards and Prix Gémeaux. In 2012, following “extensive industry consultation and outreach,” it announced that it would merge the Gemini and Genie Awards into the Canadian Screen Awards, which were first held in Toronto on 3 March 2013 and broadcast on CBC Television. Academy CEO Helga Stephenson explained that merging the awards for television and film was part of an effort “to put a much bigger spotlight on those industries.”
The Academy is administered by a national executive based in Toronto, led by a CEO. There is also a Québec bureau based in Montréal, led by an executive director.
The Academy is comprised of seven governance committees, each of which is made up of prominent industry members and oversees a particular cross-section of the awards. The separate governance committees are: Film; Television; Documentary; Digital Media; News and Sports; French Television (Prix Gémeaux); and French Digital Media (Prix Gémeaux).
There are three separate branches of voting membership within the Academy: Cinema; Television; and Digital Media. The branches are further divided into divisions based upon industry roles (e.g., art department, cinematography, editor and performers).
The board of directors, comprised of leading industry professionals, oversees the Academy’s mandate, activities and operations, while the National Advisory Council ensures that all regions of the country are represented in the Academy’s ongoing strategic planning. The Academy also has a separate board of directors in Québec, which works with the Academy’s Montréal office to administer the Prix Gémeaux.