Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation-supported artists behind the camera shine at Toronto and Atlantic film festivals


Above: Werewolf 

The Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation has supported the National Screen Institute’s film programs and students for 11 years.

Fall 2016 is a great example of how that investment has resulted in some impressive showcases for alumni of NSI courses sponsored by the Foundation.

Toronto International Film Festival | Sept. 9 to 19

World premiere features

  • Werewolf from director/producer Ashley McKenzie and producer Nelson MacDonald (both NSI Drama Prize).

When Ashley and Nelson made their NSI Drama Prize short When You Sleep with Martha Cooley, their team was sponsored by the Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation.

Ashley will be also be on the panel Short Cuts Dialogue Case Studies Transitioning to Features on Wednesday, September 14 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Glen Gould Studio.

  • Weirdos from producer Marc Almon (NSI Drama Prize)
  • The Headhunter’s Calling from producer Daniel Bekerman (NSI Features First)

North American premiere

  • Two Lovers and a Bear from supervising producer Daniel Bekerman (NSI Features First)

World premiere shorts

  • 3-Way (Not Calling) from director Molly McGlynn (NSI Drama Prize)
  • Mariner from executive producer Jordana Aarons (NSI Features First)

OMDC Producers Lab

  • Glen Wood (NSI Features First)

When Glen was in NSI Features First with Chris Trebilcock developing their feature The Dark Stranger, their team was sponsored by the Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation.

Atlantic Film Festival | Sept. 15 to 22


  • Weirdos from producer Marc Almon (NSI Drama Prize)
  • Werewolf from director/producer Ashley McKenzie and producer Nelson MacDonald (both NSI Drama Prize)
  • Two Lovers and a Bear from supervising producer Daniel Bekerman (NSI Features First)


  • Ingrid and the Black Hole from writer/director Leah Johnston (NSI Drama Prize)
  • Gnomedizzle from producer André Pettigrew (NSI Drama Prize)
  • Occupied from director Iain MacLeod (NSI Totally Television, NSI Features First)
  • Bill’s Landscape and Exorcism Services from director Angus Swantee (NSI Drama Prize)
  • Age of Reason from writer/director Lisa Rose Snow and producer Lora Campbell (both NSI Drama Prize)
  • The Big Crunch from writer/director/producer Dusty Mancinelli and producer Harry Cherniak (NSI Features First)

Hiraku Ando, Hayley Carmichael receive Brian Linehan Actors Award


Hiraku Ando (River) and Hayley Carmichael (Phone Box) are the latest winners of the $1,000 Brian Linehan Actors Award in the NSI Online Short Film Festival.

For Hiraku Andos performance:

Christian Kelley, programmer for the Kingston Canadian Film Festival and Calgary Underground Film Festival: “Hiraku’s performance in River was pitch-perfect. Despite his character’s tragic trajectory, Hiraku plays it with no small dose of courage and agency.”

Liz Janzen, screenwriter and short film champion: “Hiraku Ando’s nuanced performance is so utterly convincing that I felt at times I was watching a documentary.”

Justin Oakey, award-winning filmmaker: “River is a beautiful film, and this beautiful film revolves around a moving performance by Hiraku Ando. Subtle and very compelling.”

Hiraku Ando said, “I am very honoured to receive the Brian Linehan Actors Award and I hereby thank Kheaven, Jason, Darryl, Kyle, Reve and Andrew. To [my] fellow actors: ‘… [we’re] ready for much more living – Elizabeth Taylor.

All the crew who’ve been involved in the production will be pleased to know about this fantastic news. I believe this will encourage fellow actors, especially Asian-originated ones, to come forward and make a path of their own for their life, since life is all about being proactive – overcoming fear and taking risks.”

For Hayley Carmichael’s performance:

Kirk Haviland, film critic: “Hayley Carmichael delivers an inspired performance that is not only the concrete holding Phone Box together, but elevates the entire film with her mastery.”

Inga Diev, general manager, Ouat Media: “A portrayal of vulnerability that is equally powerful and subtle; Hayley’s performance drew me in instantaneously.”

Andrew Moir, filmmaker: “Both heartbreaking and inspiring, Hayley Carmichael brings an unforgettable dignity and grace to Phone Box. Her performance is a humble reminder that everyone we encounter shares a deep need for love, including those of us our society tends to overlook.”

Hayley Carmichael said, “Thank you so much for this award. I am delighted not only to receive the award itself which is unexpected, but also because it reminds me of the journey a film makes.

I work mostly in theatre where the story is experienced by actors and audience at the same time and then it’s over. It’s a different pleasure to be going about my day in London springtime and suddenly in comes this message from Canada, and this award … it is as surprising and delightful as making the film itself. Thank you Alan [Powell, director of Phone Box] and thank you NSI.”

Visit the NSI Online Short Film Festival for more great Canadian short films.

Graham Abbey’s Groundling Theatre Company brings world-class Shakespeare to Toronto


Stage and screen lion Graham Abbey founded his fledgling Groundling Theatre Company because he wanted to employ our top classical actors, directors and designers to produce world-class Shakespeare in Toronto.

Guess who got what he wanted?

Actors supported by the Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation are working on all shapes and sizes of stages and screens all over the world.

Graham Abbey, who still gets fan mail from his CBC-TV series The Border, is spending most of his time these days on two passion projects – his new theatre company and Stratford’s.

Abbey’s new Groundling Theatre Company received an auspicious christening last month with a 100-seat storefront theatre production of A Winter’s Tale. With Abbey directing a glittering cast including Tom McCamus, Lucy Peacock, Michelle Giroux and Brent Carver, he had to start adding extra performances even before those glowing reviews came out. The show runs through February 20 at the Coal Mine Theatre in Toronto, but good luck getting a ticket.

Abbey admits it took him four years to get his Groundling Company aloft. But it’s taken him 12 years – two thirds of his time as a Stratford Festival player – to breathe life into his other passion project. And no wonder – it’s an undertaking of Shakespearean proportion.

Conceived and adapted by Abbey, Breath of Kings condenses Richard II and Henry IV Part I into one evening, then Henry IV Part II and Henry V into another. In another major casting coup, festival favourites Tom Rooney and Geraint Wyn Davies are set to play Richard II and Falstaff, respectively.

And TIFF Rising Star Johnathan Sousa, another Linehan Foundation beneficiary, will make his Stratford debut as Hotspur. But the good news for his stage and screen fans is that Abbey himself will play Henry IV.

Previews of Breath of Kings are slated to begin at Stratford on May 30 and May 31, with the twin world premiere opening nights scheduled for June 22 and June 23 – and yes, tickets to this ambitious Abbey venture are still obtainable. Get more information.

Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation-supported film Level 16 going to camera


Above: filmmaker Danishka Esterhazy

Level 16, a project developed through the NSI Features First course with support from the Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation, will begin production this summer.

Filming will take place in northern Ontario. Confirmed cast members include Devery Jacobs, Imogen Waterhouse and Sara Canning.

Level 16 was developed through NSI Features First by Stéphanie Chapelle and Danishka Esterhazy.

The Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation has been a program partner of the NSI Features First course run by the National Screen Institute – Canada (NSI) since 2005.

• • •

NSI Features First is a development training launch pad for producer/writer teams looking to produce their first or second feature film with strong commercial appeal.

Emmanuel Kabongo nominated for Canadian Screen Award

At last year’s Canadian Screen Awards, rising star Emmanuel Kabongo presented the trophy for best original program or series produced for digital media – fiction. Last month he was at Sundance and now he’s a CSA nominee himself.

Actors supported by the Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation are working on stages and screens of all shapes and sizes all over the world.

Emmanuel Kabongo, a recent alumnus of the CFC Actors Conservatory, has already enjoyed working in film and television projects ranging from Pompeii to Quantico.

Now he is nominated for his first Canadian Screen Award for best performance in a program or series produced for digital media.

Kabongo’s eye-catching portrayal of ‘T’ in the web series teenagers has been prominently featured in 15 of the series’ 17 webisodes. The popular series has already picked up L.A. Web Fest outstanding achievement awards for two years in a row.

Last month, Kabongo was in Utah supporting the Sundance Film Festival world premiere of Danny Perez’ new thriller Antibirth with leading ladies Natasha Lyonne, Chloe Sevigny and Meg Tilly. Busy as he was, he still managed to keep his thousands of Facebook and Twitter followers up to speed (@Emmanuelkabongo).