Jan. 9 marked the 23rd edition of the Toronto Film Critics Association awards gala, a gathering that serves as a chance for filmmakers, actors and members of the association to celebrate the best of the previous year’s film offerings. Actors, including Laura Dern, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong’o, and director Bong Joon Ho, whose film Parasite won in three categories including best film, were among those who were recognized (although they were not able to attend).
Prompting the most anticipation at the gala each year is the announcement of the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award which, with its accompanying $100,000 cheque, is the richest film prize in Canada. The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, a film by directors Kathleen Hepburn and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers that centres on a friendship between two Indigenous women, took the big prize.
Fellow nominees for the award, Sophie Deraspe, director of Antigone and Jasmin Mozaffari, director of Firecrackers, were both in attendance and each received $5,000 from Rogers. Earlier, actor and director Deragh Campbell, who last year starred in Anne at 13,000 Ft., which received a jury honourable mention at the Toronto International Film Festival, received the $10,000 Stella Artois Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist. The 2019 Allan King Documentary Award was accepted by Yiqian Zhang, co-producer of American Factory, and director Chris Butler picked up the award for Best Animated Feature for his film Missing Link.
Victor Stiff was given the second annual RBC TFCA Emerging Critic Award. Being honoured this year with the Technicolor Clyde Gilmour Award for her commitment to film was former TIFF COO Michèle Maheux. The award, which in years past has been given to Tantoo Cardinal and Deepa Mehta, comes with $50,000 in pay-it-forward production services, which Maheux passed along to emerging filmmaker Lina Rodriguez. Cameron Bailey, TIFF artistic director and co-head, was on hosting duties again this year. Among those on-stage throughout the evening to give out the awards were television personalities Rick Mercer and Traci Melchor, actors Sarah Gadon, Kaniehtiio Horn and Amanda Brugel, actor/filmmaker Don McKellar, and author Margaret Atwood. Also out: Rogers Communications vice-chairman Phil Lind; TIFF executive director and co-head Joana Vicente; and, of course, TFCA president Peter Howell.