TFCA Names ‘Watermark’ Best Canadian Film

January 7, 2014

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.