Tom McSorley Decorated as Chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres par la République française

On 24 April 2024 in the French Embassy in Ottawa, Michel Miraillet, French Ambassador to Canada, decorated Tom McSorley, Carleton Adjunct Research Professor and Contract Instructor in Film Studies, as a Chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres par la République française. Created in 1957, the French Order of Arts and Letters rewards French and foreign citizens, who have distinguished themselves by their creations in the arts or literature or by the contribution they have made to the influence of arts and letters in France and in the world.

Tom received this honour for his contributions to Ottawa cultural life and Canadian cinema. As executive director of the Canadian Film Institute since 1996, he is, as the ambassador remarked, “notably the organizer and director of several international festivals which are all essential events in cultural life in Ottawa.” These festivals include the International Film Festival of Ottawa, which presents the best of Canadian and international independent cinema; the Ottawa International Animation Film Festival, the oldest and most important in North America; and the European Union Film Festival, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary in Ottawa in 2025. The ambassador stated that “France has been a long-standing partner of these festivals and holds a special place there, through the selected films and the invited directors or producers, embodying the special bond that unites our two cinemas and our two cultures.” As importantly, he pointed out that “at a time when digital screens and major American platforms are dominating [the film industry], defending independent cinema, arthouse or heritage films as you do, dear Tom, is almost an act of resistance and you can always count on us in this fight.”

Over the past 30 years, Tom, a recognized specialist in Canadian cinema, has taught courses on a wide variety of topics at Carleton, including but not limited to Canadian cinema, archival and curatorial practice, authorship in film and media, and the national cinema of Italy. He is the author of a monograph on Atom Egoyan’s film The Adjuster and has published dozens of articles in journals, such as Cinema Canada and the Literary Review of Canada. He has also edited or co-edited ten books on Canadian filmmakers, including Philip Hoffman, Ingrid Veninger, and Denis Côté. Since 2004, Tom has been Film, Television, and Theatre Critic on different programs on CBC Radio One. For the past two decades, he has been the weekly film critic on Ottawa Morning, for which he has a loyal following. And in his “spare” time, Tom has been drummer and singer in several amateur rock bands. He is also a poet, with two volumes, Partial Clarities and Moving Still, published by Elboro Press in New York, which is run by the company of filmmaker Hal Hartley.

In the words of the French ambassador, Tom is a “pillar of the cultural scene in the national capital,” who has “contributed to giving life and soul to this city with all his talent and passion.”