Five days of the film festival frenzy otherwise known as the Whistler Film Festival culminated in an awards brunch ceremony this morning at the Whistler Conference Centre.
Attendees assembled at the brunch, with Canadian film industry luminaries such as Atom Egoyan, Bruce Greenwood, Carl Bessai, Julia Kwan, and Bruce McDonald in the audience.
After introductory remarks by cofounder Shauna Mishaw Hardy, West Vancouver-Sea to Sky MLA Joan McIntyre, and Whistler mayor Ken Melamed, the awards presentations got underway.
First up was the inaugural New Voices Best International Feature ($10,000 prize). The jury—indie film veteran Bingham Ray, local actor Callum Keith Rennie, and Quebec director Philippe Falardeau (C'est pas moi, je le jure)—chose Athina Rachel Tsangari's Attenberg (Greece), about an isolated 23-year-old woman. The jury stated that they were "hypnotized by its singular vision".
The Borsos Award for Best Canadian Feature jury—actor Bruce Greenwood, producer Don Carmody (Chicago, Polytechnique), and director Sophie Deraspe—found that the "clarity, strength of narrative, and subject matter all came together in a tight but profoundly moving thriller" in Larysa Kondracki's The Whistleblower, a Canadian-German coproduction based on a true story. It stars Rachel Weisz as a Nebraskan cop in U.N.–regulated postwar Bosnia.
Best actor went to Rafael Lacaille in Jo For Jonathan, and Martha Plimpton won best actress for Small Town Murder Song. (Neither were in attendance but their directors accepted on their behalf.)
Jeff Malmberg's Marwencol impressed jurors Daniel Cross (producer of RiP: A Remix Manifesto and Up The Yangtze), Ron Mann (Know Your Mushrooms), and True West Films president Elizabeth Yake, won the $2,500 documentary award for "an intimate portrait of an artist who lives between fantasy and reality and whose miniaturized world magnifies our own".
The short film awards were presented by Telefilm Canada's John Dippong, actor Ali Liebert (Fringe), and actor Tygh Runyan (Road to Nowhere, which played at WFF). The MMPIA Short Film Award (which includes $15,000 cash plus up to $100,000 in-kind services) went to Jeremy Lutter's "Joanna Makes a Friend". The completed film will screen at next year's festival. The jury consisted of Julia Kwan, JB Sugar, and Michael Greenspan (the WFF film Wrecked). Meanwhile, the $500 Best Student Shortwork award went to Julia Hutchings' "Irradiate".
Runyan said that the best short film was chosen from 33 selections. The winner, "Via Gori" by George Barbakadze (who was not in attendance), was chosen for its "precise storytelling, economical yet evocative use of the frame, its effortless performances, and its powerful message of forgiveness in the face of human cruelty".
Dany Papineau's Two Frogs in the West, the story of a young Québécoise who travels to Whistler, scooped up the $1,000 Best Mountain Culture Film award. The jury chose it for "its strong cinematography and ability to place emphasis on the beauty of the mountains while at the same time focusing on a strong story". The film will also close the festival tonight.