The Prix Gémeaux, created in 1987, are awards that honour the achievements of the French-language television industry in Canada. They are the French equivalent of the English-language Gemini Awards (now the Canadian Screen Awards), and are administered by the Québec branch of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.
The mandate of the Québec branch of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television is to recognize and promote the creativity of artists and artisans of Canada’s French-language television and digital media industries both in Canada and abroad.
In 1986, the original ACTRA Awards were absorbed into the Academy of Canadian Cinema, the governing body of the Genie Awards, which then changed its named to the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. The name Gemini (Gémeaux in French) was chosen for the new television awards because it reflects the “complementary nature of creativity and technology, fiction and reality, artists and craftsmen,” as well as the work of industry professionals both in front of and behind the camera. The trophy statuette, a bronze outline of a face in profile, was designed by award-winning designer and artist Scott Thornley.
The first Gemini Awards celebrating the achievements of English-language television members of the Academy were held on 21 April 1986. In 1987, the Prix Gémeaux were established to celebrate the achievements of Canada’s French-language television industry. Awards in digital media categories were introduced in 2003, and the Prix Gémeaux ceremony was first webcast in 2008.
In 2012, following “extensive industry consultation and outreach,” the Academy 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. The Prix Gémeaux continue to honour the television industry in Québec. As of 2014, there were 99 Prix Gémeaux categories in total — 84 in television and 15 in digital media.
Programs and individuals are submitted for nominations by their production company or the show’s producer. All entries are subject to the rules and regulations of the Prix Gémeaux, and are subject to review by the Rules Committee.
The nomination process underwent a series of rule changes in 2015. Prior to that, the nomination jury in each category consisted of five or six industry professionals with relevant expertise in that category. Jurors were selected by the Academy based on their expertise and experience. After each jury member viewed all the entrants in their category, they met to establish unanimously the list of finalists (between two and five in total). About 325 peer jurors were involved in this process, which was conducted under the supervision of KPMG. Finalists in all categories were revealed at a press conference in June.
All members of the Academy’s Québec television branch were then invited, but not required, to vote for the winners in all categories. Each member gave a ranking, from one to five, to the nominees in each category. Each juror also gave a ranking, from one to five, to each nominee. The end result was composed of the vote of the jury (50 per cent) and the voting members of the Academy (50 per cent). The voting was done under the supervision of KPMG. The winners were announced at the Gémeaux awards ceremonies in September.
Under new rules introduced in 2015, the individual juries in each category were replaced by six grand juries, the members of which are recommended by broadcasters. Their votes now make up 70 per cent of the final tally, with the votes from Academy members comprising the other 30 percent. In all the program categories, however, each show’s ratings (calculated by the broadcasting statistics firm Numeris) are assigned a rank of between one and five; this score represents 10 per cent of the final tally, with member votes constituting 20 per cent and the grand jury votes comprising the remaining 70 per cent.
In other changes introduced in 2015, the name téléroman (soap opera) was dispensed with, giving way to categories that were renamed Best Annual Drama Series, Seasonal Drama Series and Daily Drama Series. Three new documentaries categories were also created: Best Docudrama Program or Series; Best Documentary Director; and Best Episode Direction in a Documentary Series.
To determine recipients of the special awards, the Academy’s Québec board of directors appoints a special committee, which suggests nominations for the special awards, such as the Grand Prize of the Academy (Grand prix de l’Académie), a lifetime achievement award given to an individual who “has contributed to the development of television and digital media in French-speaking Canada.” A call for submissions can also be sent to the members of the Academy. The selection of special award winners is submitted to the Québec board of the Academy for approval. Special awards are not necessarily presented annually.
Grand Prize of the Academy Winners
1989 — Frédéric Back
1990 — Pierre Gauvreau
1991 — Aimée Danis
1992 — Bernard Derome
1993 — Jean Bissonnette
1994 — Pierre DesRoches
1996 — Richard Garneau
1997 — Guy Fournier
1998 — Lise Payette
1999 — Guy Latraverse
2000 — Janine Sutto
2001 — Pierre Nadeau
2002 — André Bureau
2003 — Guy A. Lepage
2004 — Fabienne Larouche
2005 — Vincent Gabriele
2006 — Normand Brathwaite
2007 — Gilles Latulippe
2008 — Pierre Roy
2009 — Carmen Bourassa
2010 — not awarded (To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Academy’s television branch, the Prix Gémeaux paid tribute to the previous winners of the Grand Prize of the Academy.)
2011 — Victor-Lévy Beaulieu
See also: The Cinema of Québec.