VIFF 2012 closing gala: Blackbird, Becoming Redwood, The Hunt top awards
Reports of the Vancouver International Film Festival’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
So said Board of directors chair Dave Hewitt at the closing gala of the 31st annual festival at the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts on October 12. Hewitt referred to some “sensational” headlines in the media suggesting that VIFF may be a "casualty" of the imminent closure of the Empire Granville 7 Cinemas.
“Let me assure you that there couldn’t be anything father from the truth,” he said in his opening speech at the event. “VIFF will be here next year and the year after and for decades to come. It is one of the strongest cultural organizations in the city of Vancouver and as long as filmmakers worldwide keep making films, we will be here to show them to you.”
Mayor Gregor Robertson gave some perspective on the situation, by looking for hope in the future.
“When we’ve had the heartwrenching loss of the Ridge and the Hollywood, of the Denman Cinemas and the Granville 7 teetering now, it’s a big time of transformation,” he told the audience. “I think we have to have faith that we’ll get through this and there’ll be many new ways for film to be enjoyed here.”
Despite the concerns, the Vancouver International Film Festival wrapped up its 16 days of screening approximately 380 films from 75 countries.with an awards ceremony held prior to the screening of Leos Carax's Holy Motors.
VIFF festival director Alan Franey announced that this year’s Women in Film and Television Artistic Merit Award goes to Manon Briand, writer and director of the Quebec romcom-thriller Liverpool.
Canadian Images programmer Terry McEvoy presented the Canadian film awards along with the Canadian Images jury comprised of Vancouver actor Jay Brazeau, Montreal filmmaker Anne Émond (who won the Best Canadian Feature Film award last year for Nuit #1), and Colombian-American media personality Claudia Mendoza-Carruth.
$2,000 Most Promising Director of a Canadian Short Film award went to B.C. director Juan Riedinger for “Float” while honourable mention went to fellow B.C. filmmakers Brian Lye, Callum Paterson, and Nathan Gilliss for “Peach Juice”.
Nova Scotia’s Jason Buxton received the $10,000 Best Canadian Feature Film award for Blackbird, a drama about a troubled teen accused of plotting a school massacre. Mendoza-Carruth said that the jury chose the film "for its years of research by the director on the juvenile correction system; how it transforms the life of a creative kid."
Honourable mention went to Vancouver director Jesse James Miller (who was unable to attend the event) for Becoming Redwood, which went on to win the Most Popular Canadian Film award.
Mendoza-Carruth called the film a "beautiful journey that transports you to the 1970s" and that "Ryan Grantham carries the film with extraordinary gravitas on his 14-year-old shoulders, winning the audience over."
Director Nimisha Mukerji (who won several awards in 2009 for 65_RedRoses) took home the Most Popular Canadian Documentary award for Blood Relative, about the genetic blood disorder thalassemia in India.
Most Popular First Feature Award went to Barnaby Southcombe’s psychological thriller I, Anna, which starred Southcombe’s mother Charlotte Rampling.
The Most Popular Environmental Film Award was presented to Canadian documentary Revolution, Rob Stewart’s followup to Sharkwater which explores the destruction of ecosystems around the world.
Nuala, about Irish journalist, filmmaker, and author Nuala O’Faolain, was named the Most Popular Documentary.
The Rogers People's Choice Award, presented by OMNI TV reporter Tara Thind, went to Thomas Vinterberg’s psychological drama The Hunt, about a Danish kindergarten teacher accused of child molestation.
The Hunt, Revolution, and Nuala are all being rescreened as part of the VIFF Repeats series, which runs until October 18, at Vancity Theatre.
You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at twitter.com/cinecraig.