There was a moment at last year's Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards that could have itself been a weepy climax in a worthy film: The critics got on stage at the Railway Club, surrounding the group's co-founder, Ian Caddell, as they announced that the VFCC Achievement Award for Contribution to the B.C. Film and Television Industry would be renamed for him.
"Ian is the epitome of the community builder in this city and he's contributed endlessly. He really is the very embodiment of what that award is about," says film critic and VFCC member Katherine Monk, who made the surprise announcement that night. "He's one of the reasons why I think the B.C. film community is as supportive and nurturing and as co-operative as it is."
Mr. Caddell, a long-time Vancouver film publicist, journalist and critic, was ailing with cancer, and it seemed likely that he would not make it to the next awards ceremony, a year away.
"He was so touched by her gesture," says Kim Linekin, now VFCC acting chair. "I'm glad we did that while he was still alive."
Mr. Caddell died in November. He was 63.
Mr. Caddell co-founded the VFCC in 2000 with film critic and author David Spaner (Shoot It!), with a mandate to promote the local film and television industry. After Mr. Spaner left the group, Mr. Caddell essentially ran the show. "For many years, Ian was a one-man band. He basically did everything," says Ms. Linekin, pop culture columnist with CBC Radio.
Twice in his last week of life, Mr. Caddell called Ms. Linekin to his bedside in palliative care, handing off a list of tasks she needed to accomplish for the VFCC awards.
"He was really just intent on keeping this going. It meant a lot to him," says Ms. Linekin. "I felt quite honoured that he chose me to carry on the torch."
This Monday night, at the 13th annual VFCC awards ceremony, the first Ian Caddell Award for Achievement will be presented to a recipient picked by Mr. Caddell: Vancouver International Film Festival director Alan Franey.
"It's a huge honour and it's very touching, because of it being from Ian," Mr. Franey says.
Mr. Franey hired Mr. Caddell many years ago to run VIFF's media office, and Mr. Caddell stayed for 12 years. He is better known for writing about film – primarily for the Georgia Straight, but he was a prolific freelancer who contributed to a variety of publications, and also served as executive editor (and wrote countless articles) for the trade publication Reel West Magazine.
It was in this capacity that Mr. Caddell contacted Mr. Franey last summer with a surprising proposal: Despite his poor health, Mr. Caddell wanted to interview Mr. Franey, in person. Mr. Caddell took the bus to the VIFF offices, and spent an hour-and-a-half conducting the interview.
"He was really the picture of radiance that day," says Mr. Franey. "It's like he just wanted to really connect, you know? And it was a wonderful thing. It was extremely touching for me."
The resulting profile, which ran in Reel West's September/October issue, was a career retrospective that stretched back to 1979, to Mr. Franey's early days working at the concession stand at the Ridge Theatre.
"There are few occasions in life where someone makes a point of drawing the circle closed," says Mr. Franey. "For him to make the effort and interview people that have meant a lot to me in my professional career in my life … I really felt it was a tremendous act of generosity on his part."
Mr. Caddell's health was in rapid decline in October, but he managed to make it out to the launch party for Ms. Monk's book, Joni: The Creative Odyssey of Joni Mitchell, and a few days later, the closing party for VIFF. He had less than a month to live.
Ms. Monk, who reviews films for Postmedia, had nominated Mr. Caddell for the achievement award several times in the past. She first proposed renaming the award after him at last year's VFCC annual meeting (Mr. Caddell had left the meeting by that point), but in typical VFCC fashion, the issue was not dealt with until the night of the actual awards. Realizing they had dropped the ball, Ms. Monk and a fellow critic took a quick canvass of their colleagues at the Railway Club, found they were on board, and she announced it later that night.
"I'm really happy that he got to see that instead of some sort of posthumous award," Ms. Monk says.
Even beyond the not-quite 20 members of the VFCC, those who write about film here form a tight-knit community (full disclosure: Both Ms. Monk and Ms. Linekin are friends of mine), and Mr. Caddell's absence will be felt keenly Monday night.
"It's going to be really, really weird," says Ms. Monk. "He was always the first person I'd look for when I walked in the door. 'Where's Ian? He's going to tell me exactly what I need to know. He's got all the envelopes. He knows all the answers.'"
NOMINEES FOR THE VANCOUVER FILM CRITICS CIRCLE AWARDS
Zero Dark Thirty
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Best Supporting Actor
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, The Master
Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty
Tony Kushner, Lincoln
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
Best Foreign Language Film
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
How to Survive a Plague
Searching for Sugar Man
Best Canadian Film
Stories We Tell
Best Actor in a Canadian Film
Robert Pattinson, Cosmopolis
Melvil Poupaud, Laurence Anyways
Michael Rogers, Beyond the Black Rainbow
Best Actress in a Canadian Film
Suzanne Clément, Laurence Anyways
Stéphanie Lapointe, Liverpool
Rachel Mwanza, Rebelle
Best Supporting Actor in a Canadian Film
Jay Baruchel, Goon
Serge Kanyinda, Rebelle
Liev Schreiber, Goon
Best Supporting Actress in a Canadian Film
Sarah Gadon, Cosmopolis
Samantha Morton, Cosmopolis
Alison Pill, Goon
Best Director of a Canadian Film
Panos Cosmatos, Beyond the Black Rainbow
David Cronenberg, Cosmopolis
Sarah Polley, Stories We Tell
Best Canadian Documentary
The End of Time
Stories We Tell
The World Before Her
Best British Columbia Film
Beyond the Black Rainbow
Random Acts of Romance