Quebec and female filmmakers were big winners at the awards breakfast on the final morning of the Whistler Film Festival (WFF) on Sunday, Dec. 4.
The winner of this year's Borsos Awards for Best Canadian Feature and Best Director fell into both categories.
Chloe Leriche won the awards with Before the Streets (Avant Les Rues) — the story of Shawnouk, a young First Nations man who banishes himself from his community after committing a horrible crime during a break-in. It is the first feature shot in the Atikamekw language.
The jury said of Before the Streets: "This surprising, unexpected film grips you from its powerful, intense opening chant, to well beyond the final credits... we found ourselves compelled to linger, to sit, and to feel the film's after-echoes wash over us. We fell in love with these compelling characters and gained rare insights into the bonds of family and the challenges of reservation life."
Actor Kawennahere Devery Jacobs won Best Performance in a Borsos Competition Film Award for her role as Lia in The Sun at Midnight.
The Borsos Award for Best Screenplay went to The Cyclotron (Le Cyclotron), written by Olivier Asselin and Lucille Fluet. The film also won the best cinematographer award for Mathieu Laverdiere.
The World Documentary Award, sponsored by Super Channel, has a tie — between Sled Dogs, directed by Fern Levitt, and The Will to Fly, directed by Katie Bender and Leo Baker. Honourable mention was given to Mr. Zaritsky on TV.
The Best Mountain Culture Film Award, presented by Whistler Blackcomb, went to The Will to Fly.
The $1,000 Canadian ShortWork Award went to Mutants by Alexandre Dostie, while the International ShortWork Award went to Timecode by Juanjo Gimenez.
The Best Canadian Screenplay Award went to The Head Vanishes, directed by Franck Dion, while the MPPIA Short Film Award went to Good Girls Don't by Ana De Lara.
The $500 ShortWork Student Award went to Bombing, by Gloria Mercer.
Whistler filmmaker and first-time director Sharai Rewels won the inaugural Canon Hi5 Short Film Challenge for her film Binary Lullaby. She took home a Canon E05 C100 Mark II camera valued at $6,800.
The winning film was selected by a combination of votes on YouTube and jury selection.
"It's very inspiring to win. I feel this will push me to create more and grow as an artist from there," says Rewels.
"It was an amazing opportunity. I am ecstatic and grateful — the community helped us win it."
The Alliance of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) handed out two honours at the awards breakfast, with the AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Narrative Feature also going to Leriche for Before the Streets, and the AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Documentary went to Levitt for Sled Dogs.
WFF executive director Shauna Hardy Mishaw says 13,993 attendees went to film screenings, special events, and the festival's Industry Summit. This is a rise of 13 per cent at film screenings and 17 per cent at Summit events.
"I think the programming really drove the attendance, for sure. We had two major Canadian premieres with Miss Sloane and 20th-Century Women, and Western Canadian premieres with Lion and La La Land. Those films were a catalyst and I think the rest were also strong," Hardy Mishaw says.
La La Land, a musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, was given the WFF Audience Award. Miss Sloane and Lion tied for second place.