Monday, January 27, 2014

TFCA 2013 Awards highlights


Highlights of the Toronto Film Critics Association's 17th annual Awards, a gala dinner held Jan. 8, 2014 at the Carlu in Toronto.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

TFCA 2013 Awards Montage


2013 montage of all films nominated for an award by the Toronto Film Critics Association. Edited by Brian D. Johnson, TFCA President.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

TFCA Names 'Watermark' Best Canadian Film


TORONTO –Watermark, a mesmerizing portrait of the planet’s lifeblood, has won the Toronto Film Critics Association’s 2013 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award.

The award was presented to directors Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky by celebrated TV personality and author Rick Mercer at a gala dinner held January 7, 2014 at the historic Carlu in downtown Toronto.  Also nominated for the award were Gabrielle, directed by Louise Archambault, and The Dirties, directed by Matt Johnson. In attendance were prominent members of the film industry, from Ellis Jacob to Hussain Amarshi, and such luminaries such as Kim Cattrall, Don McKellar, Patricia Rozema, Bruce McDonald, Sarah Gadon, Paul Gross, Katie Boland, Vinay Virmani and Elan Mastai.

The $100,000 value of the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award makes it by far the richest annual arts prize in Canada.  As runners-up, Archambault and Johnson each received $5,000 from Rogers Communications.

This marks the second time a Baichwal-Burtynsky collaboration has received the TFCA’s Best Canadian Film Award; Baichwal’s Manufactured Landscapes, a portrait of the industrial world through Burtynsky’s lens, was also the winner of the TFCA’s 2006 Best Documentary Award.

“After Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell, this is the second year in a row we’ve voted to give our top Canadian prize to a documentary,” said TFCA President Brian D. Johnson. “Canada pioneered the doc genre, and Watermark shows we’re still reinventing it. Burtysky and Baichwal have fused  photography and the moving image to take the documentary literally where it’s never been before. They’ve forged an epic vision that combines mysterious beauty with devastating fact.”

“No natural resource is more precious than water,” said Phil Lind, Vice Chairman, Rogers Communications Inc. “With their stunning documentary Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky have created a vital portrait of a planet in crisis. I’m especially gratified the Rogers Group of Funds participated in financing this wonderful film.”

At the event, Jian Ghomeshi, host of CBC Radio's Q, read letters from some of the previously announced winners, including Joel and Ethan Coen (Best Picture for Inside Llewyn Davis), Alfonso Cuarón (Best Director for Gravity), and Spike Jonze (Best Screenplay for Her). He also introduced a video acceptance speech from Oscar Isaac (Best Actor for Inside Llewyn Davis).

As previously announced, Norman Jewison is winner of the Technicolor Clyde Gilmour Award, which was presented at the event by Kim Cattrall and Don McKellar. Jewison expressed his thanks in a video sent from Malibu. And under the pay-it-forward terms of the award, Technicolor donated $50,000 in services to a filmmaker of Jewison’s choosing—Jeff Barnaby. An aboriginal filmmaker from Quebec who attended the Canadian Film Centre,  Barnaby’s film, Rhymes For Young Ghouls won the 2013 TIFF Top Ten and Best First Feature at VIFF 2013. Barnaby’s film was also named one of Canada's 2013 Top Ten features by TIFF.

Also previously announced, director-writer-actor Matt Johnson (The Dirties) won the Scotiabank Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist, which was presented by actor Sarah Gadon. Johnson received a with a cheque for $5,000 from Scotiabank.

Actor Katie Boland presented the Manulife Financial Best Student Film Award to Ryerson University students Walter Woodman and Patrick Cederberg for their short film Noah. Winner of  the TIFF 2013 YouTube Award for Best Canadian Short Film, “Noah” is  a story of identity and romance in the digital age played out entirely on a computer screen. The award carries a cash prize of $5,000, donated by Manulife Financial to celebrate the spirit of volunteerism that is at the heart of student film-making and the power of storytelling in inspiring active citizenship.

Joshua Oppenheimer, director of the audacious documentary The Act of Killing accepted from director Bruce McDonald via a pre-taped message the BMO Allan King Documentary Award, which includes a cheque for $5,000.

Director Bruce McDonald presented the newly created TFCA Peter Wintonick Documentary Fund, with Brian Johnson handing a $5,000 cheque to filmmaker Mira Burt-Wintonick. The TFCA established the fund to commemorate the legacy of Mira’s father, Peter Wintonick, a writer, director and editor whose films include Manufacturing Consent, and who won the 2006 Governor General’s Award for Media. Wintonick, who died in November, was known around the world as Canada’s doc ambassador, and his spirit of mentorship will carry on with this award.

The TFCA is extremely grateful to founding sponsor Rogers Communications Inc. and welcomes new sponsors Scotiabank, Technicolor Creative Services and the BMO Financial Group. Thanks to the returning sponsors Manulife Financial, Cineplex Entertainment, Maclean’s Magazine, the Globe and Mail, Moet & Chandon, Ontario Media Development Corporation, Shangri-La Hotel, North 44, the Carlu and MacLaren Craft.  TFCA is also partnering with Twitter Canada to deliver live pictures of celebrities at the event.

Monday, December 16, 2013

TFCA Announces 2013 Awards


"Inside Llewyn Davis", Joel and Ethan Coen’s tale of a folk singer making his way through Greenwich Village, 1961, won two top prizes at the 2013 awards of the Toronto Film Critics Association.

"Inside Llewyn Davis" was named Best Picture, with Oscar Isaac winning the Best Actor prize.  In 2007, the Coens received the TFCA’s Best Director award for their film "No Country for Old Men", which also won Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay.

The awards were voted by the TFCA at a meeting Dec. 15. The membership also chose the three finalists for the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award: "The Dirties", directed by Matt Johnson; "Gabrielle", directed by Louise Archambault; and "Watermark", directed by Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky.

The 2013 BMO Allan King Documentary Award is given to "The Act of Killing"; director Joshua Oppenheimer will receive a $5,000 cash prize.

The 2013 TFCA Awards will be presented at a gala dinner at Toronto’s Carlu on Tuesday, January 7, 2014, hosted by Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival. There the TFCA will also reveal the winner of the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award, which carries a record-setting $100,000 cash prize, the richest arts award in the country. The runners-up will each receive $5,000.

The TFCA named "A Touch of Sin" the year’s Best Foreign-Language Film. Jia Zhang-ke’s ambitious, stylized look at life in contemporary China stars Zhao Tao and Jiang Wu as ordinary citizens forced into violent confrontations by an apathetic and amoral state.

“It’s been an unusually thrilling year for cinema,” said TFCA President Brian D. Johnson, film critic at Maclean’s. “And these awards celebrate a remarkable diversity. Among our distinctive Canadian finalists, each offers an inspired take on a compelling issue—from school bullying in 'The Dirties' to sexual liberation among the disabled in 'Gabrielle' to epic environmental crisis in 'Watermark'.”

Cate Blanchett was named Best Actress for her performance as a disintegrating woman of privilege in Woody Allen’s "Blue Jasmine", Jared Leto was named Best Supporting Actor for his role as the HIV-positive Rayon in "Dallas Buyers Club" and Jennifer Lawrence was named Best Supporting Actress for her performance as the combative Rosalyn Rosenfeld in David O. Russell’s "American Hustle".

Alfonso Cuarón won the Best Director prize for his groundbreaking work on the space survival thriller "Gravity"; Spike Jonze’s "Her" won the Best Screenplay prize for its near-future tale of a romance between a man and a computer operating system.

Hayao Miyazaki’s animated biopic "The Wind Rises" won Best Animated Feature and Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Brazilian social stury "Neighboring Sounds" was named Best First Feature.

(Under the TFCA’s guidelines, contenders eligible for the awards include films released in Canada in 2013 plus films that qualify for the 2013 Oscars and have Canadian distribution scheduled by the end of February 2014.)

At the January 7 Gala, the TFCA will also announce the winner of the Manulife Financial Student Film Award, which carries a $5,000 cash prize. It will be presented to a short film that the critics select from student entries submitted by film programs at Humber College, Ryerson University, Sheridan College and York University.

As previously announced, the 2013 recipient of the Technicolor Clyde Gilmour Award is Norman Jewison who will present a filmmaker of his choice with $50,000 worth of services at Technicolor.  The winner of the Scotiabank Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist, Matt Johnson, will be presented with a $5,000 cheque for "The Dirties", which he directed, starred in and co-wrote.

The TFCA is extremely grateful to founding sponsor Rogers Communications Inc. and welcomes new sponsors Scotiabank, BMO Financial Group and Technicolor Creative Services.

Thanks to returning sponsors Manulife Financial, Cineplex Entertainment, Maclean’s Magazine, the Globe and Mail, Moet & Chandon, Ontario Media Development Corporation, Shangri-La Hotel, North 44, the Carlu and MacLaren Craft.  TFCA is also partnering with Twitter Canada to deliver a live feed from the gala via the Twitter Mirror.

The TFCA Awards gala will take place in the art-deco Round Room of the historic Carlu, with cuisine provided by celebrity chef Mark McEwan, whose career has ranged from the stellar kitchen of North 44 to his current role as head judge on TV’s Top Chef Canada.

The full list of Toronto Film Critics Association Awards winners and runners-up:

BEST PICTURE
           “Inside Llewyn Davis” (Mongrel Media)
Runners-up
           “Her” (Warner Bros.)
           “12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight)

BEST ACTOR
           Oscar Isaac, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Runners-up
           Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
           Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

BEST ACTRESS
           Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Runners-up
           Julie Delpy, “Before Midnight
           Greta Gerwig, “Frances Ha”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR            Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Runners-up
           Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
           James Franco, “Spring Breakers”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
           Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Runners-up
           Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
           June Squibb, “Nebraska”

BEST DIRECTOR
           Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”
Runners-up
           Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
           Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”

BEST SCREENPLAY, ADAPTED OR ORIGINAL
           Spike Jonze, “Her”
Runners-up
           Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy, “Before Midnight
           Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, “Inside Llewyn Davis”

BEST FIRST FEATURE
           “Neighboring Sounds”, directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho
Runners-up
           “Fruitvale Station”, directed by Ryan Coogler
           “In a World …”, directed by Lake Bell

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
           “The Wind Rises” (Touchstone Pictures)
Runners-up
           “The Croods” (20th Century Fox)
           “Frozen” (Walt Disney Pictures)

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
           “A Touch of Sin” (Films We Like)
Runners-up
           “Blue Is the Warmest Color” (Mongrel Media)
           “The Hunt” (Mongrel Media)

BMO ALLAN KING DOCUMENTARY AWARD
           “The Act of Killing” (Films We Like)
Runners-up
           “Leviathan” (Films We Like)
           “Tim’s Vermeer” (Mongrel Media)

ROGERS BEST CANADIAN FILM AWARD FINALISTS
“The Dirties” (Phase 4 Films)
“Gabrielle” (Entertainment One)
“Watermark” (Mongrel Media)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Norman Jewison wins Technicolor Clyde Gilmour Award


TORONTO - The 2013 TFCA Awards are getting an early start with today’s announcement of the winners of the Technicolor Clyde Gilmour Award and the Scotiabank Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist.
The TFCA would like to thank new sponsors BMO Financial Group for generously endowing  the BMO Allan King Documentary Award winner with a cash prize of $5,000 and Scotiabank for their commitment of $5,000 to the winner of the Scotiabank Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist.  The TFCA also thanks Technicolor Creative Services for enabling the Technicolor Clyde Gilmour Award recipient to give $50,000 in services to a filmmaker of their choosing.
The TFCA welcomes Cineplex Entertainment as the official host of Cineplex Cocktails, the pre-awards cocktail hour where press and industry meet to discuss the past year of exciting film.
The 2013 Technicolor Clyde Gilmour Award is awarded to producer and director Norman Jewison.
For more than six decades, Norman Jewison has produced a large, diverse and widely admired body of work, starting in television and moving into high-profile dramas exploring the themes of their day. Jewison’s films have been nominated for 45 Academy Awards, winning 12 – including Best Picture for In the Heat of the Night. He has been personally honoured as a seven-time Oscar nominee and winner of the Irving Thalberg Award. Since 1980, he’s been active in the Canadian film industry: sitting on the TIFF board, establishing a film scholarship at the University of Toronto and, most significantly, founding, promoting and continuing to develop the Canadian Film Centre – the country’s most advanced training ground for emerging media professionals. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, the CFC has grown from a film school with a single program serving a dozen filmmakers to multi-media nexus with 100 residents a year and 16 different programs and initiatives. Its 1,500 alumni have helped create over 20 features and accelerated the development of some 200 Canadian media companies.
The Technicolor Clyde Gilmour Award has been given to Canadians whose work has in some way enriched the understanding and appreciation of film in their native country. Past winners include Elwy Yost, James Quandt, Robin Wood, Kay Armatage and Allan King; the award was last given to Cinepix co-founder John Dunning in 2011.
The winner of the 2013 Scotiabank Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist is Matt Johnson, director, co-writer and star of the high-school drama The Dirties. It was a break-out hit at the Slamdance Film Festival, winning Best Narrative Feature and the Spirit of Slamdance Award.
“Our critics were impressed by the dark wit, innovative style and startling gravitas of The Dirties,” said TFCA President Brian D. Johnson, film critic for Maclean’s (no relation). “Matt Johnson shows an impressive talent both behind and in front of the camera.”
“At Scotiabank, we believe that the arts make Canadians richer, exposing us to new ideas and perspectives, which is why we’re proud to support the Toronto Film Critics Association through our Bright Future philanthropic program,” says Sabi Marwah, Scotiabank Vice Chairman & Chief Operating Officer. “Congratulations to Matt Johnson on being awarded the 2013 Scotiabank Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist, whose work is an important part of strengthening the dialogue on Canadian film.”
The winner of the 2013 BMO Allan King Documentary Award will be announced on Tuesday, December 17, 2013.
"BMO is pleased to support the BMO ALLAN KING DOCUMENTARY AWARD, and looks forward to a continuing relationship with the Toronto Film Critics Association. Documentaries enrich and inform our world view. To reward excellence by documentary filmmakers is to invest in the art of truth," Nada Ristich, Director, Corporate Donations, BMO Financial Group.
Three finalists for the coveted Rogers Best Canadian Film Award, by far Canada’s richest film prize at $100,000 and $5,000 going to each of two runner-up winners, will be announced on December 17, 2013.
The winner will be announced at the 17th annual TFCA Awards, a gala dinner held in Toronto at the Carlu on Tuesday, January 7, 2014. The Rogers Best Canadian Film Award will be presented by actor and filmmaker Sarah Polley, who won the prize last year for her documentary Stories We Tell. The event will once again be hosted by Cameron Bailey, artistic director of the Toronto International Film Festival.
The Manulife Financial Student Film Award carries a $5,000 cash prize, presented to a short film the TFCA will select from entries submitted by students in film programs at Humber College, Ryerson University, Sheridan College and York University.
The TFCA is extremely grateful to founding sponsor Rogers Communications Inc. and welcomes new sponsors Scotiabank, Technicolor Creative Services and the BMO Financial Group. Thanks to the returning sponsors Manulife Financial, Cineplex Entertainment, Maclean’s Magazine, the Globe and Mail, Moet & Chandon, Ontario Media Development Corporation, Shangri-La Hotel, North 44, the Carlu and MacLaren Craft.  TFCA is also partnering with Twitter Canada to deliver live pictures of celebrities at the event. 
The TFCA Awards gala will take place in the art-deco Round Room of the historic Carlu, with cuisine provided by celebrity chef Mark McEwan, whose career has ranged from the stellar kitchen of North 44 to his current role as head judge on TV’s Top Chef Canada.
The Toronto Film Critics Association will announce their awards on Tuesday, December 17, 2013 with two exceptions. The three finalists for the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award will be announced Dec. 17, with the winner being revealed at the awards gala January 7, 2014. The Manulife Financial Student Film Award will also be announced at the gala.
Please note: under the TFCA’s guidelines, contenders eligible for the awards include films released in Toronto in 2013 plus films that qualify for the 2013 Oscars and have a Toronto release scheduled by the end of February 2014.
The Toronto Film Critics Association was established in 1997 and is comprised of Toronto based journalists and broadcasters who specialize in film criticism and commentary.  All major dailies, weeklies and a variety of other print, electronic and web outlets are represented. Members of the TFCA also participate in the Federation of International Film Critics (FIPRESCI).  As such, they have sat on juries at festivals in Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Toronto, Montreal, Miami, Palm Springs, Chicago, Pusan, Moscow, Amsterdam, London and Vienna, among others.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Remembering Roger Ebert

The TFCA was very sad to hear of the passing of famed film critic Roger Ebert last Thursday. Many of our members (some who knew Roger personally for many years) wrote pieces on him that we'd like share.

Everyone called him Roger (Brian D. Johnson)

Remembering Roger Ebert (Norm Wilner)

Appreciation of Roger Ebert: the man who loved movies (Liam Lacey)

Thought Bubble: R.I.P Roger Ebert (Andrew Parker)

Chris Knight on Roger Ebert: Our chief film critic remembers the man who was all thumbs (and that’s a good thing)

Roger Ebert a big man with a big heart (Liz Braun)

RIP Roger Ebert (1942-2013) (John Semley)

For Roger Ebert, it was always about the movies: Howell (Peter Howell)

Roger Ebert dies at 70 (Kiva Reardon)

Remembering Roger (Eli Glasner)

Jennie Punter wrote the following about her experience working with Roger:

In 2004 I worked as the field producer for Boston film critic Gerald Peary's documentary about American film criticism "For The Love of Movies," which had its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in 2009.

In the late summer of 2004 I travelled with Gerald and a cinematographer to Chicago, where we filmed former Chicago Reader film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum in his shelf-lined apartment, a teenaged Gabe Klinger in his parents' house and Roger Ebert on the set of his TV show, in its final year at that familiar cosy, theatrical location.

More than any other city, even New York, Chicago felt to me--in 2004 at least-- like the crucial North American intersection of everything film criticism had been and was destined to be.

Roger was more than gracious to our small crew, generous with his time and, as always, completely candid about his own work and the profession in general. It was the first time I met him in person. I was so pleased to discover that the dude whose rants and raves I'd enjoyed over the years in print and on TV was more interested in talking about movies than about his own role in "the conversation." During the Chicago shoot with Roger, I did not mention that I was also a film critic (or film reviewer, as I preferred to call myself) because I had a particular role to play on set as a wrangler, nudging Gerald from time to time during the interview, making sure everything was set up so that smooth interaction could take place.

In my 20+ years as a film critic I think Roger's approach to his work is probably the closest to what I was aiming at in my fumbling attempts to write about cinema. I always thought of my readers as anyone who picked up the paper, and that it was my job to give them my opinion, put the film itself and my opinion in a context that could be easily explained and maybe share one or two facts or ideas they might not have considered ... and every once in a while there would be time and space for an inspired riff or burst of insight. That's what Roger did and what I tried to do.

Not all of Roger's reviews were created equal. He had his good days and bad, made mistakes like all of us, re-evaluated his thoughts on some titles years after his original views were published. But he was consistently enthusiastic and eloquent and intelligent, let's face it, made everyone feel like their opinion  mattered. Thumbs up, Thumbs down. That's what it often boils down to.

And of course as we all know he was among the first major scribe to seriously embrace the new, abbreviated form of communication known as Twitter and really set the standard for perfect engagement. I will miss his daily tweets. It was so hilarious to see him face off against younger industry "tweet stars" a couple of years ago at a TIFF event -- a moderator chose a topic and participants had a limited to write a pithy tweet. Roger blew everyone out of the water. That's how he rolled.

Trailer of For The Love of Movies.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

TFCA 2012 Awards highlights


Highlights of the Toronto Film Critics Association's 16th annual Awards, a gala dinner held Jan. 8, 2013 at the Carlu in Toronto.