Gil-CardinalThe David Billington Award is presented by each year by the Alberta Media Production Industries Association (AMPIA) to an individual who has made an invaluable contribution to Alberta’s production community and celebrates those individuals who inspire us all with their vision, passion and dedication. This year, Gil Cardinal has been selected by the community to be honoured with this award.

Gil Cardinal is an award-winning filmmaker from Edmonton, Alberta, known for exploring raw subject matter such as substance abuse, the foster care system and the struggles of his own cultural identity and Métis ancestry. Cardinal has a long list of documentaries and has directed episodes of hit TV series such as North of 60 and The Rez, as well as the Gemini nominated mini-series Big Bear. He penned the pilot for Blackstone, which is now an award-winning series broadcast around the world, starring Michelle Thrush and produced by Prairie Dog Film + Television.

Gil Cardinal is a Canadian filmmaker of Métis descent. Born in Edmonton in 1950, and placed in a foster home at the age of two, Cardinal only discovered his Métis roots while making his documentary Foster Child. This 1987 National Film Board of Canada (NFB) film received over 10 international film awards, including a Gemini Award for best direction for a documentary program, following its broadcast on CBC’s Man Alive series.

After graduating from the radio and TV arts program of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in 1971, he worked as a studio cameraman at Alberta’s Access network, where he made his first film, a documentary about the pianist Mark Jablonski. In 1975 he become director and associate producer of the series Come Alive. He also directed Shadow Puppets: Indian Myths and Legends, a series on Cree and Blackfoot legends.

Cardinal left Access in 1980 to work with the NFB as a freelance director, researcher, writer and editor. His first film he directed for the Film Board was Children of Alcohol (1983), produced by Anne Wheeler, a documentary about the effects of parental alcoholism on children. He also shot a series of short documentaries and dramas, notably Hotwalker (1985), before making Foster Child. In 1987 Cardinal made Keyanaw Tatuskhatamak, about the struggle for Native self-government in northern Alberta. Other NFB credits include The Spirit Within (1990), on Native spiritual programs in prisons, and David with F.A.S. (1997), about fetal alcohol syndrome.

In 1998 he directed the CBC miniseries Big Bear, for which Cardinal was nominated for a second Gemini. In 2006, he made the CBC drama Indian Summer: The Oka Crisis, about the 1990 Oka Crisis.

He directed two NFB documentaries about the ultimately successful efforts of the Haisla Nation to repatriate their g’psgolox pole, a mortuary pole taken from them in 1929.

In 1997, Cardinal was recognized with a National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Film and Television.

Gil also called David Billington a friend.

This year’s David Billington Luncheon will take place on Saturday, November 7, 2015 at the Sutton Place Hotel in Edmonton.

See more about gil Cardinal, the David Billington Award and purchase tickets for the event at: http://ampia.org/awards/billington-award