Representation of People with Disability on Screen: A Work in Progress
Panelists: Sylvia Sweeney, Atom Egoyan, Christine Hill, George Alevizos, Arshile Egoyan, & Tenny Nigoghossian
Apr 22, 2021
Filmmaker Atom Egoyan is an icon of the Canadian film industry and has seen a lot of changes in the past 35 years. When he began making movies in the mid-’80s, his early features were perceived as examples of a country coming to terms with the complex reality of diversity and multiculturalism. Many awards and two Oscar nominations later, Egoyan comes to the podium of the Empire Club to take a closer look at how the discourse around diversity has shifted.
Highlighting the importance of authentic representation and inclusivity vis-a-vis people with disabilities in media and the arts, Egoyan sits with co-panelists Christine Hill, Stakeholder Engagement – Office of the CEO, at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation, and George Alevizos, an ACTRA/Equity Professional Actor. Also joining this panel will be Atom’s son Arshile, whose recently completed first film, Absence, is centred around a character who is differently abled.
This event will be moderated by Tenny Nigoghossian and is a not-to-be-missed event for anyone following how the arts are dealing with diversity with a special focus on how people with disabilities should be portrayed in cinema.
Associate Dean of Film, Acting and Media Productions, Humber College
Humber’s Associate Dean of Film, Acting and Media Productions, Sylvia Sweeney’s career spans over 40 years of achievement in media production, journalism, arts and sports.
She is a Recipient of the Order of Canada, awarded for her dedication to bridging cultural divides, by giving voice to the voiceless as a driving theme of her stage and television productions. She is a member of the International Olympic Committee’s Cultural and Olympic Heritage Commission and the founder of the International ArtsGames Committee.
With eighteen feature films, Atom Egoyan has won numerous awards including five prizes at the Cannes Film Festival and two Academy Award® nominations. His acclaimed theatre and opera productions have been performed at venues around the world. Egoyan’s art installations have been presented at the Venice Biennale and other institutions, including the Tate Collection. His latest film, GUEST OF HONOUR, stars David Thewlis and premiered at the Venice Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Golden Lion.
Stakeholder Engagement – Office of the CEO, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation
Christine Hill is a champion for disability inclusion. She has taken the Dear Everybody movement, launched by Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, to new heights and is determined to see the 22% of Canadians who have disabilities represented on screen and in print.
ACTRA/Equity Professional Actor
George Alevizos is a 23 year old ACTRA/Equity professional actor living in Toronto, Canada. Being the first graduate in a wheelchair to ever graduate from any professional training program in the country- he graduated from the joint UofT/Sheridan Theatre and Drama Studies program in 2019. Since then he’s been hard at work. Commercial projects include: Hallmark, Scotiabank, CIBC, and Holland Bloorview- Film/TV: Casey James on Hudson and Rex (Rogers and Beta), and a Wounded Crewman on Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All access)- Theatre: Luvta Rimmerholen in a workshop reading of The Effeminates (Cahoots Theatre), Guerrilla Ruffian Squad (Shakespeare in the Ruff), Matt in Drive (LemonTree Creations) and Lawyer 1/Court Reporter in A Few Good Men (Drayton Entertainment). George is a hardworking actor and advocate – trying to change how we see inclusivity and disability.
Arshile Egoyan is a writer, director, and producer born and based in Toronto. Having wrapped his first short film, Absence, he is currently in pre-production on his first feature-length movie. In addition to his film work, he has written an original series pilot and aspires to write for television. Arshile is interested in realizing stories that employ sensitivity and understanding in their exploration of challenging subject matter.
Board Director, Empire Club of Canada
Tenny Nigoghossian is a member of The Empire Club Board of Directors. She enjoys a successful, high-profile career in the charitable sector as a Fundraising and Strategic Consultant with more than 30 years experience in the not-for-profit performing arts and culture community. Tenny is a strategic thinker, an extraordinary relationship builder, “fearless fundraiser”, negotiator, and communicator.
Currently, Tenny is providing strategic counsel to The Toronto Botanical Garden (TBG) regarding a proposed multi-million dollar Expansion Project Campaign.
During her career, Tenny has held senior executive fundraising positions and has raised millions of dollars for organizations including Luminato Festival, JAZZ.FM91, Canadian Stage, Stratford Festival, The National Ballet of Canada, The Toronto Symphony and the Canadian Opera Company – where she played a leadership role in the $150M campaign to build the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.
Tenny is passionate about arts and culture and serves as a volunteer on a number of arts and other charity Boards. She has also served as a juror for the Dora Mavor Moore Awards.