VIFF 2009 Closing Gala Awards: 65_RedRoses scoops up three awards

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      It was 65_RedRoses’s big night.

      The documentary about a local cystic fibrosis patient won the most awards at the Vancouver International Film Festival’s closing gala awards presentation on October 16 at the Granville 7 Cinema.

      The documentary by local filmmakers Philip Lyall and Nimisha Mukerji, about the struggles of Lyall’s friend Eva Markvoort while she was awaiting a lung transplant, scooped up three awards at a ceremony held before the screening of the closing film, Queen to Play.

      The first was the Women in Film & Television Vancouver Artistic Merit Award, presented by WIFTV vice-president Kate Green, for codirector Mukerji as well as producer Gillian Lowry. When Mukerji accepted the award and tried to thank Markvoort, who was also in attendance, she broke into tears when she told Markvoort that she was the “bravest woman I know”.

      The film went on to win the NFB Most Popular Canadian Documentary Award (which includes $2,500 in NFB technical services), presented by Pacific and Yukon Centre NFB executive producer Tracey Friesen, which Lyall and Mukerji accepted with Markvoort. Lyall said that the documentary was made because of “huge love for one person—Eva” and was happy that the story touched so many people.

      Canadian Images programmer Terry McEvoy made the filmmaking team stop in their tracks before they sat down again because they had to return to accept the VIFF Most Popular Canadian Film Award. Mukerji said that the awards were amazing to them since they were first-time filmmakers, and Lyall jokingly added that it was even more amazing because VIFF previously had rejected their short film (which prompted much audience laughter).

      (The film will play again next week as part of the VIFF Repeats series at Vancity Theatre.)

      Another local filmmaker, Pete McCormack, won the documentary Audience Award for the Most Popular Nonfiction Film for Facing Ali, about Muhammad Ali. The film faced tough competition as it was chosen from 103 nonfiction films.

      As mentioned earlier on a previous blog, two awards went to Québécois filmmakers. Xavier Dolan won the inaugural Canwest Award for Best Canadian Feature Film (with a $20,000 cash prize) for I Killed My Mother (J’ai tué ma mí¨re) while Yan Binsse and David Tougas won the Most Promising Director of a Canadian Short Film Award (with a $2,000 cash prize from an anonymous donor) for “The Last Act”.

      The last two awards went to American films. The documentary At the Edge of the World, about two Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessels facing off against the Japanese whaling fleet, won the VIFF Environmental Audience Award. (The film will also play again on Sunday as part of the VIFF Repeats series at Vancity Theatre.)

      Meanwhile, Soundtrack For a Revolution, a documentary about the use of music in the American civil rights movement, was named the winner of the Rogers Peoples Choice Award.

      Interestingly, as festival director Alan Franey pointed out, documentaries made a clean sweep of the non-juried audience choice awards, even winning in categories in which they were competing against fictional works.