Canadian TV Fest survives Santa and the CFL

The Murdoch Mysteries cast came cas to the CITF red carpet

Santa Claus, the CFL, Mayor Ford…it seems nothing could stop the Canadian International Television Festival.
The inaugural CITF wrapped up Sunday with a packed house for a meet and greet session with the cast of Murdoch Mysteries. The weekend event wrapped on a busy Sunday in Toronto, with the CFL Eastern Final between the Toronto Argos and the victorious Hamilton Ticats happening down the street at the Rogers Centre, the annual Santa Claus Parade tying up traffic across town and Ford barging around with his exhausting media shenanigans.
Despite all the distractions, 500 happy Murdoch fans packed the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s biggest cinema. They were rewarded with a sneak peak at Monday’s episode, plus plenty of stories from the friendly cast members.
Sunday’s final day of the Canadian International Television Festival also saw two more “Golden Age” TV gems screened at the TV on Film Project. 

Thanks once again to designer daughter Katie Brioux
for the TV on Film Project on-screen graphics

The theatre audience sat through an over-long set up by the comedy team of Burns & Schreiber in order to witness NBC’s 1966 Fall Preview lineup. Two in a Taxi eventually featured clips from Star Trek and The Monkees. ABC’s 1967 reel, A Very Special Season, hypnotized viewers with its repetitive, Spirograph-like images and pounding ’60s rock score–all induced to make viewers not notice that ABC did not have any new hits that season.

Many thanks to organizers David Heath and James Galway, along with the festival sponsors, for inviting me to moderate several panels during the weekend as well as facilitating a transfer of the original 16mm film materials into crisp, clear new digital images for the CITF screening. The ultimate goal of the TV on Film Project is to find and preserve “lost” Canadian television shows, and this occasion turned out to be a successful way to test the process.
Many thanks also to all who battled through the Santa Claus parade and the Argo/Ticat semi final at the nearby Rogers Centre in order to attend the festival. 
There’s always something going on every weekend in Toronto, making planning public events a crap shoot. Congrats to organizers Heath and Galway for getting such a challenging and complicated venture off to a successful start, and at such an impressive venue.
There were a few lessons to be learned from CITF13. The downside of getting funding and programming from one main source–presenting sponsor Bell Media–was getting no love or content from private network rivals Shaw or Rogers. Kudos to CBC for being a presence at the festival anyway through panels on Air Farce, Made in Canada and Murdoch Mysteries
The second Canadian International Television Festival will be an even better experience once all the networks are persuaded to participate, allowing fans to get up close and personal with talent from across the Canadian TV landscape.
As it was, Bell/CTV took full advantage of the TV festival opportunity, presenting a robust slate of domestic projects across several platforms. Festival goers were left with the positive impression that Bell is making and airing more Canadian content than ever. 
On a personal note, many thanks to the ground crew at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. These folks run a tight ship and take care of everything, making things easy and enjoyable for participants as well as patrons.
UPDATE: Go here to “Katie Chats” to see some video coverage of the festival, featuring a red carpet chat with Murdoch stars Yannick Bisson and Helene Joy.

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