VIFF 2014: Jurors get Violent

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      One of the more challenging (but rewarding) films at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival has been given two of its most prestigious domestic prizes.

      Andrew Huculiak’s Violent was named both best B.C. and best Canadian film during the B.C. Spotlight gala at the Vancouver Playhouse on Saturday (October 4). As awards host Tony Pantages noted, besides being disgustingly young—the combined age of Huculiak and his partners at Amazing Factory Productions is probably less than mine—the people behind Violent are also rock stars. Both Huculiak and cowriter Cayne McKenzie play with We Are the City, while Violent (the film) is kinda-sorta based on Violent, the band’s 2013 album.

      More precisely, Violent is the result of an outrageous risk. Huculiak and his five-person crew headed out to Norway with an infinitesimally small budget, no cast, and a science-fictiony script (which they changed on the fly) and came back with a riveting and mysterious jewel of a film.

      As the Canadian Images Awards jury said in a statement: “Marked by strong performances, this ground-breaking and emotionally mature film has audacious ambitions and more than delivers. The story inhabits a very unusual space for contemporary cinema. A film about loneliness in an ordinary life, it had the jury rapt for the duration as its profound storytelling resonated throughout the film and long after.”

      “It was kinda like winning the lottery that you didn’t even know you were entered in,” Huculiak told the Straight, adding that he, like many people, expected to see Xavier Dolan’s Mommy take the Best Canadian film prize. “We saw the other contenders, and we mentally checked out of that category. We thought there’s no way.

      “We truly made the film for us,” Huculiak continued. “There was no audience in mind, there were no boxes we were ticking, so it does inhabit a strange place. To have that sort of recognition for making something so personal—it’s unreal.”

      Writer-director Ana Valine was honoured with the B.C. emerging-filmmaker award for her debut feature, Sitting on the Edge of Marlene, while “The Cut” bagged the award for most promising director of a Canadian short film for Geneviève Dulude-Decelles. Julia Kwan’s Everything Will Be also received an honourable mention from the B.C. Spotlight jury.

      Prior to the night’s sold-out screening of the film, director Grant Baldwin and producer Jenny Rustemeyer learned that their documentary Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story had been chosen for the inaugural VIFF impact award.

      Follow Adrian Mack on Twitter at @adrianmacked.