Helga Stephenson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Helga Stephenson

Helga Stephenson 2015 (cropped).jpg
Stephenson in 2015
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
OccupationFilm executive, publicist

Helga Stephenson, OOnt is a Canadian film industry executive, who served as CEO of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television from 2011 to 2016.[1] Following her departure from the Academy, she was made a member of the Order of Ontario.[2]


Stephenson was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec.[1] Her aunt was the wife of John David Eaton.[1] She studied film and communications at McGill University, graduating in 1969, and travelled to work internationally for some time before joining the National Arts Centre as a publicist.[1]


Festival of Festivals[edit]

She later worked in Toronto as a partner in a film and television publicity agency,[3] before joining the Festival of Festivals in 1978.[4] In 1980, she was coproducer with Henk Van der Kolk and Bill Marshall of Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave.

In 1982, she was promoted to communications director of the festival.[5]

In September 1986 she was appointed interim director of the festival after the board dismissed Leonard Schein, and she was named the permanent new director in December.[3] She remained in the role until 1994, when she stepped down and was succeeded by Piers Handling.[5] Her term as director of the festival was widely credited with securing its contemporary reputation as one of the world's most prestigious film festivals.[5][6]

She stepped down shortly after the festival changed its name from Festival of Festivals to the Toronto International Film Festival.[7]

Other activities[edit]

She then became chair of Viacom Canada,[8] and an on-air host of film-related programming for Showcase.[9] She remained with Showcase until 1996,[10] and with Viacom until 2000.

In the 2000s, Stephenson and Kate Alexander Daniels launched the public relations firm Daniels Stephenson,[11] which handled film publicity and produced the Toronto Film Critics Association Awards,[12] and cofounded the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival with Brenda Dinnick.[13]

Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television[edit]

Stephenson was named interim CEO of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television in 2011,[14] and was confirmed in the position in 2012. In the position, she implemented changes to the Academy's board structure and media relations strategies in response to widespread dissatisfaction with the Academy among members,[14] and spearheaded the merger of the Genie Awards and the Gemini Awards into the contemporary Canadian Screen Awards.[15]

She stepped down as CEO of the Academy in 2016, and was succeeded by Beth Janson.[16]


  1. ^ a b c d "Paying tribute to a true film world visionary". Toronto Star, March 22, 2015.
  2. ^ "The 2016 Appointees to the Order of Ontario". Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. December 14, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Toronto film festival elevates interim director to top position". Toronto Star, December 20, 1986.
  4. ^ "Helga Stephenson maps the future of Toronto's international film fete: First lady of the Festival of Festivals". The Globe and Mail, January 24, 1987.
  5. ^ a b c "Festival's Stephenson steps down; Piers Handling appointed". The Globe and Mail, March 4, 1994.
  6. ^ "Festival running well on new-found celluloid legs". The Globe and Mail, September 7, 1989.
  7. ^ "Festival splices film into name". Edmonton Journal, February 13, 1994.
  8. ^ "Viacom sets up shop in Canada". Financial Post, June 8, 1994.
  9. ^ "New host for Showcase". The Globe and Mail, November 9, 1995.
  10. ^ "Griffiths to host films". The Globe and Mail, June 20, 1996.
  11. ^ "The making of a film fest fete". Toronto Star, September 14, 2010.
  12. ^ "Cinema and TV academy names interim CEO". National Post, May 27, 2011.
  13. ^ "Life at full throttle". The Globe and Mail, February 2, 2005.
  14. ^ a b "Helga's back as film Academy saviour". Toronto Star, August 17, 2011.
  15. ^ "Gemini, Genie Awards to be consolidated". Montreal Gazette, May 2, 2012.
  16. ^ "New head of Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television on her vision and rebranding". 680 News, November 14, 2016.

External links[edit]