There was one common refrain throughout the Whistler Film Festival’s awards ceremony this year.
Nearly every recipient, in a pre-recorded message, expressed hope that next year, they will be able to attend the festival in person.
“It’s been a year where the screens of our homes have become more significant and necessary,” said Roger Soane, on behalf of the Whistler Film Festival Society’s board of directors, in the opening remarks. “It’s on these screens that we see stories being represented in increasingly diverse ways—stories that take us to places and introduce us to characters that educate and entertain … And certainly we are all looking forward to gathering together again to share the big-screen experience.”
In total, the festival handed out 14 awards in seven juried competitions on Sunday, Dec. 20, with a total of $38,500 in cash and production prizes awarded.
Little Orphans takes home Best Canadian Feature award
The lion’s share of the award money and prizes is part of the Borsos Competition for Best Canadian Feature—the second-largest festival prize in Canada. That award has five categories, including the biggest for Best Canadian Feature. This year, Little Orphans, directed by Ruth Lawrence, took that title, along with the $15,000 in cash and $20,000 in post-production.
Along with the cast, crew, and various supporters, Emily Bridger, writer and actor of the film, gave a nod to the festival. “I’d like to thank the Whistler Film Festival again. This script went through the Praxis Screenwriting program there in 2017, so we certainly wouldn’t have this film without that program,” she said.
Other Borsos winners included Sophie Dupuis for best director in the film Underground (Souterrain); co-writers Gail Maurice, Xavier Yuvens, and Joshua Demers of Québexit for best screenplay (A.W. Hopkins’ Indian Road Trip also received an honourable mention); Fred Gervais-Dupuis for best cinematography in The Marina (Mathieu Laverdière earned and honourable mention for Underground); and Rémy Girard who starred in You Will Remember Me earned Best Performance (honourable mention to Kelly McCormack in Sugar Daddy and Rémi Goulet in The Marina).
Earlier in the ceremony Girard also received the Whistler Film Festival’s career achievement award.
“I am very happy to accept this achievement award,” he said. “I’m very honoured too, especially when I think about all the great actors and actresses who have received it in recent years.”
Other winners of the awards included:
- Julien Temple, director of Crock of Gold, for the World Documentary Award (honourable mention in that category when to Tanya Lapointe’s The Paper Man)
- A.W. Hopkins, for his film Indian Road Trip, in the Just Watch Us: Best BC Director Award
- On Falling, directed by Josephine Anderson, for Best Mountain Culture Film Award (honourable mention to Motherload, directed by Zoya and Izzy Lynch)
- Shooting Star (Comme Une Comète), directed by Ariane Louis-Seize, for the $1,000 Canadian ShortWork Award (honourable mention to The Painter from Nowhere, directed by Christian Trineer
- Ashmina, directed by Dekel Berenson, for the International Shortwork Award
- Rollerbladies, directed by Rowan Landaiche and Amber Nordstrand, for the $500 BC ShortWork Award
- Small Time, directed by Niav Conty, for the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Feature (special mention to Goddess of the Fireflies, directed by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette)
- Single, directed by Ashley Eakin, won the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Short Film
- Kim Albright, director of With Love and Major Organ, for the 2020 WIDC Feature Film Award (with an in-kind prize of up to $200,000) and the CBC Films WIDC Talent Development Award (with a $10,000 cash prize)
- Jaskaran Singh, who won the WFF Power Pitch with his Jersey Boy project, which included a $36,000 prize package
- Canadian-American actor Colm Feore won the Canadian Icon Award for his career and achievements
- Kelly McCormack was given the One to Watch Award
- Gabriel Byrne received the Maverick Award
- Tzi Ma received the Trailblazer Award.
Whistler Film Festival opens up Sea to Sky Shorts contest to local filmmakers
New this year was the Sea to Sky Shorts competition that featured short films from Sea to Sky talent. Teams had 20 days to shoot and edit their submissions.
Utopia, directed by Anna Dziczkaniece and Helen Burt from Squamish, earned the top spot and the $2,000 prize. Second place was awarded to Kyle Killeen for his Sea2Sky P.I. while third place was given to Steve Andrews for Making Miki’s Magic.
Honourable mention went to Nature Entwined, directed by Amanda Palmer. “This was such an amazing competition to be a part of,” Burt said. “Thanks to Jamie Hill and all of the girls part of the Hilltop coaching program for being so, so talented.”
Added Dzickaniece: “We hope this film encourages young girls to pick up a mountain bike next summer.”
Watch all the films at the Whistler Film Festival online until Dec. 31.