Riceboy Sleeps Win Rogers Best Canadian Film Award

March 7, 2023

Riceboy Sleeps | Game Theory Films

Riceboy Sleeps, Anthony Shim’s semi-autobiographical film about a Korean single mother who moves to Canada to raise her son, has won the Toronto Film Critics Association’s 2022 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award.

Veteran actor and Cree/Métis activist Tantoo Cardinal (Dances with Wolves, Three Pines, North of 60) presented the award — the richest annual film prize in Canada — to director Shim. One of the film’s lead actors, Ethan Hwang, accepted the award on his behalf at a gala dinner held March 6, 2023, at the Omni King Edward Hotel in Toronto.

Shot in the Vancouver area and in South Korea, Riceboy Sleeps premiered at both TIFF and the Busan International Film Festival. Its delicate examination of the stresses of growing up between two cultures has been widely praised. Riceboy Sleeps was included in TIFF’s 2022 Canada’s Top Ten.

As runners-up, directors Clement Virgo (Brother) and David Cronenberg (Crimes of the Future) each received $5,000 from Rogers Communications.

Hosted by actress Amanda Brugel (The Handmaid’s Tale, Infinity Pool), the ceremony featured a cocktail party sponsored by Universal Pictures Canada, a dinner sponsored by Netflix and an after-party sponsored by Prime Video.

“All three nominated films this year are terrific, and we congratulate all three filmmakers,” TFCA President, Johanna Schneller said“But Anthony Shim’s film shimmers with delicacy, empathy and authenticity. Though it’s only his second feature, it’s made with such self-assurance, and he elicits an indelible performance from his lead, Choi Seung-yoon. We can’t wait to see what he does next.”

“Movies like Riceboy Sleeps are the reason the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award exists,” said Rogers’ Robin Mirsky, Executive Director, Rogers Group of Funds. “Films reflect who we are, and Anthony Shim’s story resonates with so many Canadian immigrant families. It’s a testament to the idea that the more specific a story is, the more universal it feels.”

At the gala, Brugel introduced video acceptance speeches from director Charlotte Wells (Best Picture, Best Director and Best First Feature, Aftersun), Paul Mescal (Best Actor, Aftersun), Ke Huy Quan (Best Supporting Actor, Everything Everywhere All at Once), filmmaker Laura Poitras (Allan King Documentary Award winner for All the Beauty and the Bloodshed), and Domee Shi (Best Animated Feature, Turning Red).

Comedian and TV personality Rick Mercer presented the $10,000 Stella Artois Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist to filmmaker Carol Nguyen. Nguyen’s short films, which are drawn from her life and Vietnamese-Canadian culture, have played at more than 80 film festivals.

In its mission to recognize new voices in film criticism, the TFCA gave Michelle Krasovitski the fourth annual Telefilm Canada Emerging Critic Award, presented by actress Maitreyi Ramakrishnan (Never Have I Ever, Turning Red). Krasovitski is a daughter of Soviet-era Ukrainian immigrants who taught her to appreciate a culture of uncensored film. The award comes with a prize of $1,000.

On the red carpet, entertainment journalist and Super Channel content producer Teri Hart welcomed eminent members of the film industry and the civic and cultural communities, including longtime TIFF programmer Steve Gravestock, recipient of this year’s Company 3 Luminary Award. That award comes with a pay-it-forward grant of $50,000 in production services to a filmmaker of the recipient’s choice. Gravestock chose producer/actor Hugh Gibson (The Stairs) and writer/director Frieda Luk (The Encounter). TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey and Company 3 VP and GM James Fraser presented the award to the recently retired Gravestock.

Other notables in attendance included Brother actors Lamar Johnson and Kiana Madeira, Riceboy Sleeps actor Ethan Hwang, Robbie Amell of the CW series The Tomorrow People, photographer and filmmaker Caitlin Cronenberg, Crimes of the Future executive producer Aida Tannyan, author Tamara Faith Berger, TIFF COO Beth Janson, Canadian Film Centre CEO maxine bailey, Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television CEO Tammy Frick, Zoomer Magazine editor Suzanne Boyd, and Cineplex Entertainment President/CEO Ellis Jacob.

The TFCA is extremely grateful to founding sponsor Rogers Communications for the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award, to returning sponsors Labatt for the Stella Artois Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist, to Netflix as the Dinner sponsor, to Air Canada as Official Airline and to Company 3 as the Luminary Award sponsor. The TFCA welcomes new sponsors Universal Pictures Canada as the Cocktail Reception sponsor, Prime Video as the After Party sponsor, Telefilm Canada as the Telefilm Emerging Critic sponsor and Pinnacle Live as the Official AV Sponsor. The TFCA also thanks sponsors Cineplex Entertainment and Omni King Edward Hotel, and salutes stalwart supporters G.H. Mumm Champagne, L’eat Catering, Zoomer Magazine, Chair-man Mills and The Printing House.

Get the full list of TFCA Awards winners here.