Tag Archives: Awards

2021 Festival Awards

Our fourth annual festival was held last month, virtually once again across Canada. I’m so grateful to our staff, volunteers, audience, and especially to our filmmakers, and I want to recognize those films awarded by our juries and audience. Thank you to all our jury members for their hard work and for lending us their expertise. Congratulations to these filmmakers but also to all the rest of the filmmakers who allowed us to share their work during the festival. Toronto Canada enjoyed watching your films and we can’t wait to see what you’re working on next!

Award Winners 2021

Best Narrative Short


Dir: Tomasz Wolski

Jury statement: “The jury was really impressed by the film’s skilful execution, authentic performances, and ability to bring something fresh to the single-take format by emphasizing the interwoven nature of our lives. By bookending the narrative with a child’s innocent view of these events, the film generates unexpected layers of complexity. It sparks audience conversations by shining a light on how thes characters are wrapped up in their own perspectives and unable to acknowledge what connects them.”

Best Documentary Short

Since You Arrived My Heart Stopped Belonging To Me

Since You Arrived My Heart Stopped Belonging To Me
Dir: Erin Semine Kökdil

Jury statement: “The jury’s decision for the winning film is testament to Mothers’ enduring love as well as their unwavering and unselfish strength. Emotional and heartbreaking, this documentary gives insight into Latin America’s socio-political corridors that have ramifications for families of the most vulnerable.”

Special Mention Joe Buffalo
Dir: Amar Chebib

Jury statement: “The documentary that the jury unanimously feels exemplifies Gandhi’s axiom of being the change one wants to see in society. Topical and heartwarming all at once, it speaks of not just overcoming your personal traumas, but being a beacon of learning and self preservation for future generations.”

Best Animated Short

Love Is Just A Death Away

Love Is Just A Death Away
Dir: Bára Anna Stejskalová

Jury statement: “For being so unique and innovative and imaginative, and also gross, but beautiful at the same time. We’re so excited to see what this filmmaker does next.”

Special Mention: To The Last Drop
Dir: Simon Schnellman

Jury statement: “For telling such a deep and powerful story in such a simple and entertaining way.”

Best Canadian Short

Joe Buffalo

Joe Buffalo
Dir: Amar Chebib

Festival Director statement: “This award is given in memory of Anthony Turk McCourt. Tony was a close family friend of mine while I was growing up, and I’m pleased to have his memory associated with excellence in Canadian filmmaking. Joe Buffalo is a devastating but hopeful portrait of an indigenous man who suffered through the trauma of the residential school system, but who emerged from years of addiction and homelessness through his dedication to skateboarding and the community he found there.”

Audience Award


Dir: Pablo de la Chica

Festival Director statement: “This wonderful film shines a light on the work of the brave and compassionate Mama Zawaldi and her colleagues at the Lwiro Primates Rehabilitation Centre in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her loving and tireless service helping baby chimpanzees recover from trauma made a strong impression on all of us who saw the film.”

2020 Festival Awards

Our third annual festival was held last month, virtually across Canada, and once more exceeded my expectations. I’m grateful to our staff, volunteers, audience, and especially to our filmmakers, and I want to recognize those films awarded by our juries and audience. Thank you to all our jury members for their hard work and for lending us their expertise. Congratulations to these filmmakers but also to all the rest of the filmmakers who allowed us to share their work during the festival. Toronto Canada enjoyed watching your films and we can’t wait to see what you’re working on next!

Award Winners 2020

Best Narrative Film

El tamaño de las cosas [poster image]

The Size of Things (El tamaño de las cosas) (Dir: Carlos Felipe Montoya)

Jury statement: A child’s world is often filled with the unexpected and unexplained. The winning work immerses us in the beautiful Colombian countryside, into the loving home shared by an indigenous father and his young son. The director has crafted a memorable film whose stunning production design and incredible camerawork enhances its deeply original story that is in equal measures tender, prosaic, and magical. It reminds us of the power and possibility embedded in every child.

Best Documentary Film

Huntsville Station [poster image]

Huntsville Station (Dirs: Chris Filippone, Jamie Meltzer)

Jury statement: For its humane, compassionate approach, intimate storytelling and patient craft in capturing a moment of freedom and the uncertain future that awaits, the Best Short Documentary award goes to Huntsville Station.

Best Animated Film

Freeze Frame [poster image]

Freeze Frame (Dir: Soetkin Verstegen)

Jury statement: With stunning cinematography and haunting sound design, this film expresses the beauty, fragility, and impermanence of not only ice, but life itself. It’s difficult to imagine a more unforgiving medium for animation than one that is in constant danger of melting into nothingness. This short film is not only a remarkable achievement in its own right, but with its nods to the pioneering work of Eadweard Muybridge, it is also a fitting celebration of animation itself and of film’s ability to capture and preserve motion.

Audience Award

The Vasectomy Doctor [poster image]

The Vasectomy Doctor (Dir: Paul Webster)

There was also a jury special mention in one category:

  • Special Mention (Narrative): Idols Never Die (Dir: Jerome Yoo)

Jury statement: It is rare, especially now, to find a short that is so breezy, smart, and full of pop sensibility, one that appeals to our nostalgia and yet feels incredibly fresh. Jerome Yoo’s Idols Never Die manages to do all those things with the potentially dark, pulled-from-the-headlines subject of tragic K-Pop idols and their devoted uber-fans. Its energetic cinematography and performances made for an exciting and stylish watch, complemented by a screenplay that goes to the mushy heart of the heightened emotions and complex hierarchies of teen friendship.

Canadian Screen Awards 2013: Shorts

Canadian Screen Awards 2013
I’ll admit that I could never keep the Geminis and the Genie Awards straight. Looks like the folks at the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television have gotten the hint. This year, they’ve combined the awards into a new format called the Canadian Screen Awards. These awards will honour Canadian work on all screens: cinema, television and interactive (ie. computers, tablets and phones). I was fortunate enough to attend this morning’s press conference where many of the nominations were announced. Unfortunately, that didn’t include those for short film. Though they were included in the full press release, I wanted to bring them front and centre here. Winners will be announced during the televised awards ceremony on Sunday March 3rd on CBC, but truly, it’s an honour just to be nominated!

Best Documentary Short

Best Live-Action Short

Best Animated Short

Titles marked with an asterisk (*) have screened at Shorts That Are Not Pants. The others are on my radar!

Canada’s Top Ten 2012: Shorts

Note: We’ll be showing Chloé Robichaud’s very funny Chef de meute from this selection on Thursday January 17th at the Carlton Cinemas. Advance tickets are on sale already.

On Sunday night, TIFF Bell Lightbox screened all of this year’s shorts named to Canada’s Top Ten. Here are my thoughts on the films (including two I’d seen before, Lingo and Chef de meute).


Lingo (Director: Bahar Noorizadeh, 13 minutes)

Lingo uses a static camera and long shots to sort-of tell the story of a young Afghan boy who inadvertently starts a fire that burns down a neighbour’s house. A misunderstanding lands his non-English-speaking mother an uncomfortable interview with a police interpreter. I want to applaud the daring of the filmmaker, because some of the techniques used are pretty alienating to the audience, but the end result communicates a real sense of confusion and disconnection, even when someone is supposedly speaking your language.


Kaspar (Director: Diane Obomsawin, 8 minutes)

Quebec cartoonist Diane Obomsawin animates her 2009 book on the life of Kaspar Hauser, a mysterious young man found living in a German cave in 1828. The subject of several films, including one by Werner Herzog, Hauser’s mysterious origins were never discovered, nor were the circumstances surrounding his mysterious death. Kaspar presents the story in simple clean lines and its character as a trusting innocent. Telling the story in the first person gives the tragic tale additional poignancy.


Reflexions (Director: Martin Thibaudeau, 6 minutes)

An attempt to tell a story visually through reflected images is a clever gimmick, but Thibaudeau’s rather simplistic and heavy-handed portrayal of the funeral of a man who was not what he seemed was the least satisfying of the ten films for me. An interesting concept that needed more subtlety.

Paparmane (Wintergreen)

Paparmane (Wintergreen) (Director: Joëlle Desjardins Paquette, 19 minutes)

Remarkably similar in tone to Chloé Robichaud’s Chef de meute, but featuring a depressed cat instead of an excitable pug, this film was a delight. A lonely parking attendant is mourning his mother’s death, along with her melancholy pet. Things begin to change when he meets an exuberant telegram singer. Filmed near an amusement park closed for the winter, Paparmane uses its setting to great effect. I’m also a big fan of the way the film is able to find humour within its potentially gloomy situations.


Malody (Director: Phillip Barker, 13 minutes)

Strange things begin to occur inside a diner where a sick girl confronts herself as a little girl. Although visually impressive and full of stylistic flourishes, Malody‘s art film opacity left me unable to connect with its characters.

Crackin' Down Hard

Crackin’ Down Hard (Director: Mike Clattenburg, 10 minutes)

Clattenburg explained to the audience that the idea for the film came to him and his co-writer/star Nicholas Wright when they were visiting Joshua Tree National Park in California. Conceived, written and filmed a scant two weeks later, Crackin’ Down Hard feels like a comedy sketch you’d expect to see on a show like Kids in the Hall. Terry is a guy who comes to the desert to get away from the hectic life he has in the city. While hiking one day, he’s confronted by a strange man who tempts him with hookers. It’s an absurd situation, and all the more hilarious as Terry gradually succumbs to the pimp’s high-pressure sales tactics. The film’s humble origins show in the rather muddy image quality, but the dialogue and comic payoff more than make up for it.

Old Growth

Old Growth (Director: Tess Girard, 5 minutes)

A man’s rural routine comprises this simple piece shot without dialogue. With his wheelbarrow, an old man walks along a windswept road to a forest where he chops firewood. Well-shot and with an especially good use of sound design, Old Growth is more of an experimental piece, since there is almost no focus on the man’s face.

Ne crâne pas sois modeste (Keep a Modest Head)

Ne crâne pas sois modeste (Keep a Modest Head) (Director: deco dawson, 19 minutes)

Canadian-born Jean Benoit was the last member of the Surrealist group of artists. Using archival audio and film footage, dawson constructs a series of vignettes from the artist’s life using his own surrealistic style. Some of these techniques work really well (Benoit as a child jumping between houses and peering in rooftop windows) and some not as well (an almost endless series of zoom-ins on a painting), with the end result being a film worthy of admiration more than love. dawson spoke passionately about Benoit at the screening, and I felt disappointed that some of the quirk seemed to distract from the filmmaker’s clear love of his subject.


Bydlo (Director: Patrick Bouchard, 9 minutes)

Based on a musical piece by Mussorgsky, Bydlo is an innovative animated film that uses images of animals and faceless people to explore the cycles of life, death and labour. The word “bydlo” comes from the Polish word for cattle and is often applied to “the masses” of uneducated, lower-class people. The dramatic use of the musical source material along with the quite amazing animation technique makes this a sobering but fascinating big picture portrayal of the seeming futility of life.

Chef de meute (Herd Leader)

Chef de meute (Herd Leader) (Director: Chloé Robichaud, 13 minutes)

In this comedy, the humour is dark indeed. When Clara’s spinster aunt dies suddenly, her family suggest she take in the older woman’s pug, since, as a single woman herself, she has time to take care of it. When even the dog seems to boss her around, she turns to a dog trainer for help. In a hilarious sendup of The Dog Whisperer, he encourages her to be more assertive. It’s a lesson she takes to her pushy family members. Ève Duranceau plays the put-upon Clara to neurotic perfection, and the pug turns in a pretty impressive performance, too.