Sarah Polley’s ‘Stories We Tell’ takes home $100,000 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award

January 8, 2013

TORONTO – Stories We Tell, Sarah Polley’s documentary inquiry into her tangled family history, has won the Toronto Film Critics Association’s 2012 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award.

The award was presented to Polley by noted writer/actor/director Don McKellar, a previous TFCA winner, at a gala dinner held January 8 at the historic Carlu in downtown Toronto. Also nominated for the award were Bestiaire, directed by Denis Côté, and Goon, directed by Michael Dowse. In attendance were prominent members of the film industry including Robert Lantos, Darren Throop, Hussain Amarshi and luminaries such as Minister Michael Chan, Rick Mercer, Patricia Rozema, Jian Ghomeshi, Bruce McDonald, Mark McKinney, Sarah Gadon, Emily Hampshire and Katie Boland.

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

This marks the second time the TFCA has honoured Polley for Best Canadian Film; she won for her first feature, Away From Her (2006). Stories We Tell also received the TFCA’s 2012 Allan King Documentary Award, which was presented to Polley by CBC personality Rick Mercer.

“This unprecedented prize throws an invaluable spotlight on Canadian film,” said TFCA President Brian D. Johnson, film critic for Maclean’s. “In a world where most cash arts prizes are voted by small juries of peers, it puts faith in a diverse group of fiercely independent critics. This year we had three strong, very different nominees—Denis Côté’s documentary meditation on captive animals; Michael Dowse’s wildly profane yet tender hockey comedy; and Sarah Polley’s genre-bending family memoir. We congratulate all three of them.”

“With this deeply personal film, Sarah Polley has offered up a thoroughly engaging and interesting depiction of her own family and its stories.” added Phil Lind, Vice Chairman, Rogers Communications Inc. “She is at the forefront of Canadian filmmakers and we’re thrilled to recognize this achievement with this prize. As long time supporters of the Canadian production sector, Rogers is proud to support these Canadian stories and the Canadian story tellers who bring them to life.”

Veteran Toronto filmmaker Bruce McDonald presented the 2012 Manulife Financial Best Student Film Award to Ryerson University student Andrew Moir for his short documentary Just As I Remember, which juxtaposes the experience of two men with ALS—a father of three in the early stages of disease and his own dad who is almost completely paralyzed. 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.

Noted writer-director Patricia Rozema presented the TFCA’s Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist to Toronto filmmaker Nicolás Pereda (Greatest Hits). Sponsored by Deluxe, the prize is accompanied by a $5,000 cash award and $5,000 in post production services. It’s named after the late, legendary Globe and Mail film critic Jay Scott.

Pereda’s thriftily produced and formally experimental films have been embraced at festivals around the world. This Mexican-born graduate of York University, who lives in Toronto, won a prize at Venice in 2010 for his lyrical drama Summer of Goliath. With six features under his belt at 32, he has already received a full retrospective at TIFF Bell Lightbox.
“After watching a film,” said Johnson, “those of us who knew Jay Scott occasionally still find ourselves thinking, ‘What would Jay think?’ Jay loved to champion bold, experimental filmmakers with a lyrical eye—I could imagine him discovering Nicolás Pereda and trying to make him famous.”

The TFCA is extremely grateful to founding sponsor, Rogers Communications Inc, and to its other sponsors: Manulife Financial, Cineplex Media, Deluxe, Shangri-la Hotel, Maclean’s magazine, the Globe and Mail, Moet & Chandon, Ontario Media Development Corporation, Cineplex Entertainment, North 44, MacLaren McGill and the Carlu.