The animated film Window Horses directed by Ann Marie Fleming is the big winner of the 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF), walking away with both the Best BC Film Award and the Best Canadian Film award.
Female directors dominated the awards with Cabbie co-directed by Jessica Parsons and Jennifer Chiu winning the Ignite Award and the $20,000 prize; and Never Eat Alone director Sofia Bohdanowicz winning the award for Emerging Canadian Director.
This year’s slate of award-winners includes an animated odyssey wedding poetry and politics; a masterfully crafted short documentary about Vancouver’s cab drivers; an indictment of hockey’s toxic masculinity; an intimate portrait of a grandmother and grandchild; and an immaculately crafted look at young love and heartbreak in the north.
Winners and Awards of the 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF)
Ignite Award, presented by TELUS, this award recognizes the exceptional work of a female key creative on a BC-produced feature or short film. The winner receives $20,000 that can be used towards future productions or further training.
WINNER: Cabbie (dirs. Jessica Parsons, Jennifer Chiu)
Three taxi drivers navigate Vancouver in a dreamlike meditation on trust, chance and the transformative power of human connection.
Honorable Mention: Here Nor There (dir. Julia Hutchings)
Hired to play a private investigator at a woman’s funeral, an actor slowly realizes that his isn’t the only masquerade.
Best BC Film Award, awarded to a narrative feature, which receives a $10,000 development bursary from the Harold Greenburg Fund and a $15,000 post-production services credit supplied by Encore (Deluxe Ent Services Group).
WINNER: Window Horses (The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming) (dir. Ann Marie Fleming)
Ann Marie Fleming’s Window Horses is a beautifully narrated and colourfully animated story of a young girl’s journey toward self-discovery. After being invited to a poetry festival in Shiraz, Iran, by a mysterious figure, Rosie Ming faces challenges and discoveries that ultimately lead to her self-realization. Unaware of the reasons behind her father’s disappearance, she has her perspective and conscience awakened by her experiences and the information she uncovers.
BC Emerging Filmmaker Award, a $7,500 cash prize sponsored by the Union of BC Performers and ACTRA Fraternal Benefits Society, along with a $10,000 equipment credit from William F. White. First or second narrative features that are signatory to a UBCP/ACTRA agreement are eligible for this award.
WINNER: Hello Destroyer (dir. Kevan Funk)
Embarrassed by the scoreboard and emasculated by his coach (Kurt Max Runte), junior hockey player Tyson Burr (Jared Abrahamson) attempts to uphold the game’s unwritten code by sending a message to the opposition. Instead, a reckless hit sees this introverted grinder suspended and banished from his band of brothers. Suddenly stripped of the role he had to play, Tyson is shipped back to his emotionally detached parents and condemned to a job in a slaughterhouse. There, his grisly duties serve as a chilling metaphor for how countless dreams of NHL stardom are systematically snuffed out every year.
Best Canadian Film, a $10,000 award sponsored by the Directors Guild of Canada is presented to one of the 14 nominated Canadian narrative features.
WINNER:Window Horses (The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming) (dir. Ann Marie Fleming)
Emerging Canadian Director, the Directors Guild of Canada presents a $2,000 award to one of the nine nominated films that mark the director’s first or second narrative feature.
WINNER: Never Eat Alone (dir. Sofia Bohdanowicz)
Toronto’s Casa Loma, a present-day landmark, is here configured as a metaphorical cage of memories, captured on film in the 1950s for a live televised melodrama. One of its stars, now in her mid-80s (Joan Benac) and widowed and lonely, is wondering what ever happened to that charming baritone she performed with, the one who fancied her and even asked her not to go through with her wedding—before disappearing from her life forever. Her granddaughter Audrey (played with remarkable naturalism by Deragh Campbell, a rising star who also appears in The Intestine and The Other Half at this year’s Festival) finds the show in the CBC archives and attempts to track down this would-be lover.
Best Canadian Documentary, presented by the Rogers Documentary Fund, $15,000 is awarded to a Canadian documentary feature film.
WINNER: Living With Giants (dirs. Sebastien Rist, Aude Leroux-Lévesque)
This intimate documentary by directors Sebastien Rist and Aude Leroux-Lévesque is infused with deep-rooted traditions and the harsh realities of a changing Arctic. It’s a visual interpretation of the life of Paulusie, a young Inuk. Paulusie is an optimistic, imaginative and sensitive teen who loves the solitude of hunting. The doc poetically explores complex social issues—such as violence, depression, and suicide— within the community of Inukjuak (the Inuktitut word for “giant”). It also reveals Paulusie’s hopes, and the demons he wrestles with, as he provides for his adoptive parents and shares his life with his girlfriend Nikuusi. The directorial duo set out to make a positive film about an amazing young man they knew—a charismatic, open-minded individual. But making a documentary can be unpredictable: when alcohol is smuggled into his dry community for a graduation party, Paulusie’s life is turned upside down.
Honorable Mention: Quebec My Country Mon Pays (dir. John Walker)
In this p.o.v. documentary, veteran director John Walker (A Drummer’s Dream) explores the development of Quebec nationalism and its consequences for Anglophones such as himself. Walker’s Quebec roots stretch back many generations, and this is a highly personal exploration that includes his own narration, interviews with his family and, most importantly, the perspectives of leading Francophone artists and intellectuals such as Jacques Godbout, Denys Arcand and Louise Pelletier. Walker allows us to feel all his sadness, pain and anger about the Quebec that has emerged since the Quiet Revolution—a Quebec that no longer wants Anglophones such as himself. This is an important perspective to be heard in an era of opting out. Scottish nationalism, Brexit, the American Dixie South: we’re seeing the creation of fortress cultures that exclude the “other” rather than ensuring that their societies remain open and welcoming.
Best BC Short Film, presented by Creative BC, one BC short film is awarded $5,000.
WINNER: Here Nor There (dir. Julia Hutchings)
Honorable Mention: Srorrim (dir. Wayne Wapeemukwa)
Best Canadian Short Film, presented by Lexus, one Canadian short film receives $2,500.
WINNER: Ceux qui restent/Those Who Remains (dir. Mathieu Vachon)
Honorable Mention: Fish (dir. Heather Young)
Most Promising Director of a Canadian Short Film, $2,000 is awarded to a director of a Canadian made short film.
WINNER: Parent, Teacher (dir. Roman Tchjen)
Honorable Mention: Old Man (dir. Alicia Eisen)
VIFF Impact Award, a $5,000 prize, presented by Leonard Schein, is awarded to one of nine issues-oriented documentary films in the Impact programming stream
WINNER: Power to Change—The Energy Rebellion (dir. Carl-A. Fechner)
Meet the people who just might save our planet. This documentary outlines a wealth of green-friendly innovations and the figures behind them, and lays out a future that sees us reduce our carbon emissions to virtually zero. The action is centered in Germany, with nods to foreign figures like Elon Musk. Director Carl-A. Fechner is focused on positives, not negatives—there’s no doomsaying here, just a call to action and a picture of the steps we can take to ward off environmental collapse.