VIFF 2020: Beans, Violation, and The Hidden Life of Trees among award winners

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      Several more awards have been bestowed upon outstanding films at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival, with several Indigenous and Canadian filmmakers among the winners.

      This year’s Rob Stewart Eco Warrior Award was presented by Brian and Sandy Stewart, the parents of the late conservationist Rob Stewart who died while making the the documentary Sharkwater: Extinction in 2017.

      The award goes to the German documentary The Hidden Life of Trees, which is directed by filmmaker Jörg Adolph and is based upon the 2015 book about forestry by author Peter Wohlleben.

      Wohlleben said he would like to donate the prize money to the Kwiakah First Nation, which is trying to save its home in Phillips Arm, B.C.

      Director Jerry Rothwell won the Impact Award for the U.K.–U.S. documentary The Reason I Jump, which is an exploration of neurodiversity featuring five portraits of young people with autism and is based upon 13-year-old Naoki Higashida’s book about autism.

      The film previously won the Grand Jury Prize and world cinema documentary audience award at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

      The Reason I Jump

      Filmmakers Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli won the Emerging Canadian Director award for their debut feature film Violation.

      This sexually explicit and violent drama follows a woman, played by Sims-Fewer, who seeks revenge after being sexually assaulted by her brother-in-law.

      Violation filmmakers Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli

      The Best Canadian Documentary Award went to Call Me Human (Je m’appelle humain) by Kim O’Bomsawin, a portrait of Innu poet, writer, translator, curator, songwriter, and documentary filmmaker Joséphine Bacon from Pessamit, Quebec.

      Beans by Mohawk writer-director Tracey Deer won the Best Canadian Film Award.

      Deer’s coming-of-age feature tells the story of 12-year-old Beans who is struggling to understand the Oka Crisis of 1990 taking place all around her, after Indigenous communities face off against Canadian police and military in Quebec over a golf course expansion into a Mohawk burial ground.

      Beans filmmaker Tracey Deer

      Other filmmakers who won awards previously given out this year include:

      • Banchi Hanuse, who won the Sea to Sky Award for her short film “Nuxalk Radio”;
      • Jessie Anthony who won the B.C. Emerging Filmmaker Award for her debut feature Brother, I Cry;
      • Karen Lam, who won the Best B.C. Film Award for The Curse of Willow Song.

      Many of these films will continue screening online for B.C. audiences at VIFF Connect until the festival ends on October 7.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.