Acclaimed Japanese director Koreeda Hirokazu's emotional drama Like Father, Like Son has won the Rogers People's Choice Award for most popular film at the Vancouver International Film Festival. The film, about two families who learn that their sons were switched at birth in the hospital, won the Jury Prize at Cannes this year and has been winning over audiences and critics on the festival circuit.
Also at VIFF on Friday night, Jennifer Steinman's Desert Runners, about the phenomenon of desert ultramarathon racing, won the audience award for Most Popular Documentary Film.
Other audience awards announced on the festival's closing night include Ben Ratner's feature Down River. Inspired by actor Babz Chula, who died three years ago, it was named Most Popular Canadian Film. Jason DaSilva's When I Walk won the Most Popular Canadian Documentary Award, and Twyla Roscovich's Salmon Confidential won the Most Popular Canadian Environmental Documentary Award.
Saudi Arabian director Haifaa Al Mansour's Wadjda – the first feature to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first by a female Saudi director – won the award for most popular first feature.
As for the adjudicated awards, the jury was unable to decide between two films for Best Canadian First Feature, so gave the honour to both Jeff Barnaby's Rhymes for Young Ghouls and Jason James's That Burning Feeling.
Rhymes depicts the after-effects of the trauma inflicted by residential schools on Canada's First Nations population. "Using a highly creative vocabulary, from realistic to metaphorical, from fantastic to poetic, Jeff Barnaby demonstrates a promising and already impressive talent as a filmmaker," said the jury (actor Gabrielle Miller, former B.C. Film Commissioner and Coordinator of the Motion Picture Arts Program at Capilano University Dianne Neufeld; and former broadcaster and Radio Canada programming executive Michele Smolkin) in a statement.
The jury called That Burning Feeling one of the best comedies they had seen in a long time, a "wonderful self-deprecating portrait of Vancouver, with its condo maniacs, yoga lovers, community activities and other odd characters," and called James a rising filmmaker to watch.
Mathieu Arsenault won the award for most promising director of a Canadian short for Nathan, which the jury called an "unflinching and heartbreaking film."
The Women in Film & Television Annual Artistic Merit Award was presented to Chloé Robichaud for Sarah Prefers to Run, which WIFTV called "outstanding."
Awards announced previously include the best BC Film Award, which went to Bruce Sweeney's sports talk radio comedy The Dick Knost Show. The jury also gave Terry Miles's Cinemanovels an honorable mention.
The BC Emerging Filmmaker Award went to director Matthew Kowalchuk for his dark buddy comedy Lawrence & Holloman, adapted from the Morris Panych play. Down River received an honourable mention, and Salmon Confidential was also singled out. The inaugural Must See BC Award for most anticipated B.C. film, awarded at the beginning of the festival, went to Gary Hawes's dance competition mockumentary Leap 4 Your Life.
The Dragons & Tigers Award went to Japanese director Ikeda Akira's Anatomy of a Paperclip; Vivian Qu's Trap Street was first runner-up.
The 32nd annual VIFF wrapped up with a gala screening of Arie Posin's The Face of Love on Friday night.