By Erin Letson Posted February 13, 2009, 9:00 AM EST
TORONTO The Canadian Film Centre (C.F.C.) focused on the art of cinema for its annual gala this year, so it was almost fitting that scheduled host Mary Walsh—best known for her television work—cancelled due to illness and was replaced by film star Eugene Levy. Booking Levy the day before the event was “a combination of chance, availability, and amazing people reaching out to help,” said Rachel Noonan, manager of strategic partnerships, development, and events at the C.F.C. “It was also great timing that [Levy] happened to be in Toronto."
Levy and other Canadian actors such as Gordon Pinsent and Shawn Ashmore fit well with the tone of the event at the Kool Haus, which marked the 20th anniversary of the C.F.C. The Cinephilia theme (conceptualized by ad agency Taxi) aimed to make guests feel like part of a society of film lovers, so as more than 500 people arrived in the main hall, hanging signs pointed out attributes that distinguish the cinephile society: “You rarely venture below channel 31” and “You critique film critics.”
Screens throughout the venue showed C.F.C.-supported productions, including new media projects and television shows such as Degrassi: The Next Generation. C.F.C. alumni footage and a message from the organization's founder, Norman Jewison, played for guests while they dined on a meal catered by Via Allegro Ristorante.
“The creative footage airing around the event shows all the different emotions and tones of C.F.C. projects,” Noonan said. “The C.F.C. started in film, and that's the main undertone, but we're celebrating the work done in TV and new media as well."
The event sold 58 tables, down only two from last year, and sponsorship stayed relatively strong with support from companies including Holt Renfrew, Cineplex Entertainment, and RBC Capital Markets. But Noonan said she and assistant events manager Mark Fellion took a more scaled-back and budget-friendly approach to the decor with the help of Leslie Kyriacou of Kyriacou & Associates and Frank Rea of Forget Me Not Flowers. Swarovski crystal ball centrepieces accented simple black-and-white table settings, and fuchsia lighting washed over the large venue.
The auction, always a prominent feature of the gala, maintained its reputation for unique prizes with items like a trip for two to the London premiere of the new Harry Potter film and a day on the set of Mad Men.
Correction: This story has been changed to correctly identify Leslie Kyriacou and Frank Rea.