65_RedRoses, Xavier Dolan winners at VIFF closing gala awards
“I think my life has changed immensely because of the film,” cystic fibrosis patient and 65_RedRoses subject Eva Markvoort told the Straight at the Vancouver International Film Festival closing-gala party at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver on October 16.
She and local filmmakers Philip Lyall and Nimisha Mukerji had just attended the Vancouver International Film Festival’s awards presentation held at the Granville 7 cinemas. The documentary about Markvoort’s struggles while awaiting a lung transplant amassed three awards: the juried Women in Film & Television Vancouver Artistic Merit Award, for codirector Mukerji and producer Gillian Lowry; the NFB Most Popular Canadian Documentary Award, which includes $2,500 in NFB technical services; and the VIFF Most Popular Canadian Film Award.
“Throughout this entire time period that was really difficult to get through, I was being interviewed all along the way,” Markvoort said about the film. “So rather than just existing through it, I was forced to examine how I felt about it and what it meant in the overall scheme of my life. And because of that, I think I truly learned and gained a lot of wisdom”¦and it was at a time when I couldn’t do much else. So it gave me a purpose and it gave me a real reason to be going through all this pain and this misery. It made it a lot easier to bear because it felt like I was making a difference.”
Lyall and Mukerji said that their documentary had inspired numerous people to become organ donors.
“I hope that the film transcends cystic fibrosis and transcends even illness,” Markvoort added. “I hope that it just shows what is possible when we allow ourselves to really care for one another.”
The film will air on TV on November 16 (10 p.m. PST) on CBC’s The Passionate Eye.
Lyall and Mukerji are moving on to separate projects about identity issues. Lyall is now working on a four-part series called Homosexuals Anonymous, about a gay reparative-therapy movement that attempts to change participants from gay to straight. Mukerji will be working on The Coconuts, a documentary about Westernized second-generation South Asians, for which she and local filmmaker Baljit Sangra (Warrior Boyz) won a $10,000 development award at the Leo Awards on May 9.
Meanwhile, the two juried VIFF awards with cash prizes went to Québécois filmmakers. Writer-director-actor Xavier Dolan won the $20,000 Canwest Award for Best Canadian Feature Film for I Killed My Mother (J’ai Tué Ma Mí¨re), which Dolan wrote when he was 17 years old, while Yan Binsse and David Tougas took the $2,000 Most Promising Director of a Canadian Short Film Award for “The Last Act”. Dolan’s film garnered three awards at the Cannes International Film Festival and is Canada’s submission for the best foreign-language Oscar award.
Local filmmaker Pete McCormack won the documentary Audience Award for the Most Popular Nonfiction Film for Facing Ali, about boxing legend Muhammad Ali. The film was chosen from 103 nonfiction films.
The documentary At the Edge of the World, about two Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessels trying to halt the Japanese whaling fleet near Antarctica, won the VIFF Environmental Audience Award. Soundtrack for a Revolution, a documentary about the use of music in the American civil-rights movement, was named the winner of the Rogers People’s Choice Award.
Interestingly, as festival director Alan Franey pointed out at the awards ceremony, documentaries made a clean sweep of the audience-choice awards.
The 28th annual festival featured 379 films from 75 countries (89 selections were Canadian), with 659 screenings over 16 days.