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Banff fest grows by 20%; U.S., Brit fare dominates

The 16th annual Banff Television Festival drew to a close June 24 and this year’s record-breaking attendance left fest topper Jerry Ezekiel faced with a welcome dilemma for the future of the weeklong event. Fest organizers now have to figure out how best to deal with this new-found popularity.

More than 1,100 industryites showed up for the Banff festival, a 20% increase from the year before.

“I’m not the least bit unhappy about the growth over the last year,” Ezekiel said. “Banff is becoming an important meeting-place for Canadians and their counterparts from elsewhere in the world. But we have no ambitions to become anything like Mip. We have our own niche.”

Canal Plus feted

One of the highlights of the fest was a tribute to Gallic paybox Canal Plus, and more than 20 executives from the French company were at the festival, including chairman Pierre Lescure.

The Grand Prize at the 1995 Banff Rockie Awards went to tough Dutch-made docu program, “Death on Request,” a personalized look at euthanasia in Holland, where it is legally sanctioned by the government. “Death on Request,” produced for the IKON Broadcasting Organization by Monique Van Dijk and Els Prins, also nabbed the award as best social and political documentary.

British and U.S. shows dominated the awards, together garnering 10 of the 15 trophies handed out. A couple of the top-rated U.S. network series won nods, notably “ER,” which took the Rockie Award as best continuing series for its “gritty realism.” NBC’s “Frasier” – which was dissected at a festival panel featuring the show’s creators – won the award for best comedy series for the second consecutive year.

Other U.S. winners included “Texas Justice,” a crime drama produced by Patchett Kaufman Entertainment in association with World Intl. Network, which took the honors as best miniseries, and “Duckman: Not So Easy Riders,” which won the best animation program award. “PrimeTime Live’s” “Rush to Read” segment, an episode of the ABC newsmagazine devoted to investigating pap smear reading labs, won the prize for best information program.

British telefilm “Cold Comfort Farm,” a BBC/Thames production directed by veteran helmer John Schlesinger, took the award for best made-for-TV movie, and “Little Lord Fauntleroy,” another BBC production, won the Rockie Award as best kids program.

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