LITTLE ORPHANS directed by Ruth Lawrence
LITTLE ORPHANS directed by Ruth Lawrence

The winners of the 2020 Whistler Film Festival (WFF) were announced at the Awards Celebration on the final day of official programming at the 20th edition.

Little Orphans directed by Ruth Lawrence wins the Borsos Award for Best Canadian Feature and the $15,000 cash prize presented by the Directors Guild of Canada, British Columbia and the $20,000 post production prize presented by Company 3. The jury stated that this was “a familiar story, yet told in the most original way with an ensemble cast of brilliant actors who all delivered standout performances” (Emily Bridger, Marthe Bernard, and Rhiannon Morgan). The jury added that “in a time of solitude and isolation it was nice to see the story of a family on screen, albeit a dysfunctional one.” Little Orphans was written by actor Emily Bridger and went through the WFF’s 2017 Screenwriters Lab where she developed the script. The film was shot in St. Johns, Newfoundland.

The Best Director Award presented by the Directors Guild of Canada, British Columbia goes to Sophie Dupuis for Underground (Souterrains), which the jury stated was “a kinetic examination that dissected the experience of miners on a technical, philosophical and emotional level. Sophie Dupuis uncovered a complex masculinity and reinvented the way that masculinity is portrayed in cinema.” She told a male-centric story through the female perspective and each and every character in the film left a memorable impression on the jury.

Rémy Girard, star of Éric Tessier’s You Will Remember Me, was the recipient of this year’s Best Performance in a Borsos Competition Film Award, with honorable mentions to Kelly McCormack for her performance in Wendy Morgan’s directorial debut Sugar Daddy, and to Rémi Goulet in The Marina directed by Étienne Galloy and Christophe Levac.

Best Screenplay in a Borsos Film went to the co-writers of Québexit, Gail Maurice, Xavier Yuvens and Joshua Demers, with an honorable mention to A.W. Hopkins for Indian Road Trip.

Best Cinematography in a Borsos Film went to cinematographerFred Gervais-Dupuis for his work in The Marina directed by Étienne Galloy and Christophe Levac. This is their first feature. An honorable mention went to Mathieu Laverdière for Underground directed by Sophie Dupuis.

The World Documentary Award was presented to Crock of Gold directed by Julien Temple. The jury chose Crock of Gold as the winner because it is so much more than a music documentary. Its use of reenactments and archival footage make it a unique examination of its subject. The filmmaker takes a non-judgmental approach to telling a story about alcoholism, underscored by fantastic musical performances, capturing the essence of Irish culture. An honorable mention went to Tanya Lapointe’s The Paper Man for the telling of this timely story and for bringing Claude Lafortune’s inspirational story and his beautiful sculptures to life.

The new Just Watch Us: Best BC Director Award presented by the Directors Guild of Canada, British Columbia recognizes the achievements of a BC Director with a feature film at the festival, and are nominated for DGC-BC’s consideration by the Whistler Film Festival’s programmers. For its strong sense of vision, which was evident in every frame of this beautiful film, our jury has selected A.W. Hopkins as the winner of this year’s Just Watch Us: Best BC Director Award. Hopkins’ passion for his characters shines through in the performances of his remarkable cast; he is a gifted storyteller with a wonderful sense of humor and a distinct, original voice. Indian Road Trip stood out for us not only as a well-crafted film, but a powerful (and often very funny) story that will undoubtedly resonate with audiences across BC and beyond.

The Best Mountain Culture Film Award presented by Whistler Blackcomb went to On Falling directed by Josephine Anderson. The jury stated “On Falling gives a fresh take on an action sports film that provides a sensitive perspective on the physical hardships of being a world-class athlete. It opens the doors to a new genre of film that blends creative filmmaking with cutting-edge adventure: a poetic rumination on the concept of falling and all the ways that manifests itself, without sacrificing any of the action audiences might expect from a mountain biking film.” An honorable mention went to Motherload directed by Zoya and Izzy Lynch.

The $1,000 Canadian ShortWork Award went to Shooting Star (Comme une comète) directed by Ariane Louis-Seize. The jury also awarded an honorable mention to The Painter From Nowhere directed by Christian Trineer. The International ShortWork Award went to Ashmina directed by Dekel Berenson.

The winner of WFF’s first annual Sea to Sky Shorts Showcase and $2,000 cash prize is Utopia directed by Anna Dziczkaniece and Helen Burt. Second place went to Sea2Sky PI directed to Kyle Killeen. Third place went to Making Miki’s Magic directed by Steve Andrews. An Honorable Mention went to Nature Entwined directed by Amanda Palmer. WFF’s new regional film competition, created in celebration of its 20th-anniversary edition is supported by The Hamber Foundation and sponsored by ecologyst and Nesters Market & Pharmacy Whistler. The competition included ten original stories by filmmakers from the Sea to Sky region – from Horseshoe Bay through Squamish and Whistler to the Pemberton Valley inclusive of Birken and D’Arcy. The teams had 20 days to shoot, edit and submit their short film.

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists presented this year’s EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Feature to Small Time directed by Niav Conty. The jury stated “Small Time is a clear-eyed look at contemporary America from a child’s point of view — terrible to witness, but beautiful to look at, as a girl of 10 is left in the care of various ineffectual adults, all of whom are otherwise occupied by poverty, addiction and fragile mental health. Young actress Audrey Grace Marshall moves with grace through this landscape of desperation, observing and considering the various life lessons provided by the grown-ups around her. Writer/director Conty captures the essence of child-like wonder to deliver a powerful message”.

The jury also gave a special mention to Goddess of the Fireflies directed by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette. The jurors found the film to be “an insightful, often devastating look at what it’s like to be a teenager.” They stated that “this Quebecois coming of age film set in the 1990s is universally relatable today and that it’s impossible to take your eyes off Kelly Depeault’s stunning performance in the lead role.”

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists presented the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Short Film to Single directed by Ashley Eakin. The jury stated “Single is a compelling film that tells a truly inspiring tale of self-determination and positivity and has the power to change the way we all view people with disabilities. Featuring a fearless performance from Delaney Feener, the film tackles preconceptions about people with disabilities and challenges expectations. Director Ashley Eakin brings a bold new voice to filmmaking and Single is a great start for her career.”

Women in the Director’s Chair, a talent program presented in collaboration with the Whistler Film Festival, presented two awards during this year’s festival. The 2020 WIDC Feature Film Award and the CBC Films WIDC Talent Development Award were presented to Kim Albright for her feature film directorial debut With Love and a Major Organ written by WFF Talent Lab alumna Julia Lederer.

In addition, Jaskaran Singh won the WFF Power Pitch on December 11 with his Jersey Boy project and was awarded a $36,000 prize package, that includes a $25,000 post-production credit from Company 3 (formerly Encore Vancouver), and a $1,000 cash prize plus a $10,000 lighting and grip production credit from William F. White International Inc.

Honourees at Whistler’s 20th edition includes American-Canadian actor Colm Feore, who received the Canadian Icon Award for his career endeavors and achievements that have made a significant impact in the film industry in Canada and beyond, and Sugar Daddy writer and co-star Kelly McCormack received the One to Watch Award. Irish actor and filmmaker Gabriel Byrne, featured in the National Festival VOD Premiere of The Death Of A Ladies’ Man, will receive the Maverick Award. In addition, beloved Quebec actor Rémy Gerard, in the English Canadian Premiere of You Will Remember Me (Tu te Souviendras de Moi), will receive the Career Achievement Award; and Hong Kong-American actor Tzi Ma, attending the fest with the Canadian Premiere of A Shot Through The Wall, received the Trailblazer Award, awarded to an actor who has blazed a unique and inspiring trail for themselves in film and who continues to engage audiences with meaningful and impactful work.

WFF’s Stars to Watch, presented by UBCP/ACTRA, include Elyse Levesque and Ali Skovbye both featured in the National Festival VOD Premiere of The Corruption of Divine Providence directed by WFF alumnus Jeremy Torrie; Paul Grenier and Miika Whiskeyjack featured in the World Premiere of Indian Road Trip directed by WFF alumnus A.W. Hopkins; and Melanie Rose Wilson who plays Madonna Croft in the World Premiere of All-In Madonna directed by WFF alumnus Arnold Lim.

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