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'Sundance of Television' salutes major innovators and leaders, while peering into future of media.

THE BANFF WORLD MEDIA FESTIVAL will use its 35th anniversary as an occasion to look ahead, according to fest exec director Feme Cohen.

"As with the industry in general we define ourselves as evolving and forward-looking," she says.

Accordingly, conference seminars will inquire into what content will look like in the next 35 years. Substituting "media" for "television" in the fest's title in 2011 recognized the quantum shift to creating content for the Internet and other advanced digital delivery forms.

"We strive to be the most important gathering and marketplace focusing on the content development and production piece," Cohen says.

More than 2,000 industry executives will hold or attend master classes, and make deals, in a picturesque setting that once inspired the sobriquet "the Sundance of television."

Central to every Banff edition are the coveted Rockie Awards, with 156 nominees and winners in 26 categories chosen by blue-ribbon global juries. Contenders run the gamut from "The Big Bang Theory" and "Doctor Who," to "Secrets of the Irish Landscape."

In the serial drama category, U.K.'s "Downton Abbey" and heralded U.S. skeins "House of Cards" and "The Bible" will do battle with Korean pediatrics drama "Good Doctor" and Israeli thriller-mini "Hostages," which spawned a U.S. remake.

Ben Silverman, founder and chairman, Electus, will receive the Award of Excellence in Digital Innovation.

"(Ben's) achievements in producing outstanding digital content are both inventive and inspiring," Cohen says.

Reinforcing Banff's forward focus, its lifetime achievement honoree remains vital and active. Having made his bones in print and early TV, former CBS anchor Dan Rather continues to "speak truth to power," as he puts it, through investigative reports and long-form interview profiles for AXS-TV.

The newsman will both interview keynoter, Lionsgate TV Group chairman Kevin Beggs, and assume the hot seat for his own one-on-one.

Rather looks forward to sharing his "passion for journalism" with broadcasting insiders. If I can [talk] about the importance of quality journalism, of integrity, that alone will be worth the trip."

He has some pungent thoughts on media and international understanding. With unprecedented access to quality foreign content, Americans fail to avail themselves of "those obscure places on the remote." Overseas viewers, by contrast, may be inundated with "if not the worst, certainly not the most representative of our culture."

Banff, he argues, "is one of the few times on the calendar you have a chance of saying, 'How can we get other countries the best of television on a worldwide basis?'" And will he use his time to nudge attendees in that direction? "The short answer is, I'll sure try."

Rockie Start

The quaint Canadian town of Banff provides a bucolic backdrop for the 35th Banff World Media Festival.

Serial Drama

"Downton Abbey" (1)

"House of Cards" (2)

"The Bible" (3)

"Good Doctor" (4)

"Orphan Black" (5)

"Hostages" (6)



WHAT: Banff World Media Festival

WHEN: June 8-11

WHERE: The Fairmont Banff Springs

More Rockie Mountain Highs


"To This Day"

"The Awesomes"

"Legend of Korra"

"Plankton Invasion--Operation Total Block"

"Robocar Poli (2nd season)"

"Walter & Tandoori"


"Arrested Development"

"Family Tree"

"The Wrong Mans"

"The Big Bang Theory"

"Package Deal"

"Safety First"

Music and Variety

"The Perfect Couple"

"Comic Relief 2013: Funny for Money"

"Live From the Hundred Years Cafe"

"CMT Crossroads: Willie Nelson & Friends From Third Man Records"

"Jimmy Kimmel Live"

"Sapmi Sessions"

Made for TV Movie

"Mary and Martha"


"Call Me Crazy: A Five Film"

"The New World"

"The Lumber Queen"

"Wings of Hope: We Were 13 Years Old At That"


"Big Brother Canada"

"Strictly Come Dancing"

"The Cali Centre"

"Beyond Scared Straight"

"Project Runway All Stars"

"Cold Justice

Science Fiction and Action



"Doctor Who"

"Witches of East End

"Marvel's Agents of SHIELD

Complete list available at
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Author:Verini, Bob
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 27, 2014
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