‘I am the Blues’ Tops Canadian Screen Award Winners

I am the Blues
Eyesteel Film

By Pat Mullen

It was a night of surprises on the documentary side of this year’s Canadian Screen Awards. Daniel Cross’s I am the Blues pulled an upset win over Nettie Wild’s KONELINE to scoop the prizes for Best Feature Length Documentary and Best Cinematography in a Feature Length Documentary. Wild’s film looked like the frontrunner as the only documentary to score nominations in all three categories for feature film, but it went home empty-handed. Blues, also a hit with Canadian audiences, proved that music docs still have an edge at awards shows. Hubert Davis’s soon-to-be-released Giants of Africa, finally, won the award for Best Editing in a Feature Length Documentary, while the powerful NFB film this river won the prize for short docs.

The biggest surprise of the night, however, was not one of the winners. Rather, it was the fact that documentaries made the broadcast at all. While the aforementioned prizes for feature length/theatrical docs didn’t appear during the awards ceremony hosted by Howie Mandel, the Screenies did include the Donald Brittain Award For Best Social/Political Documentary Program. That award went to White Pine Pictures’ Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr, which won two awards earlier in the week. Director Michelle Shephard took the stage and dedicates the award to journalists everywhere who fight to tell the truth when elected leaders try to undermine them with charges of “fake news”.

In one of the night’s more touching moments, it was announced that the award for Best Science or Nature Documentary Program or Series would be dedicated to late filmmaker Rob Stewart. Stewart, best known for his 2006 film Sharkwater and his passionate eco-activism, died earlier this year after failing to surface during a dive off the coast of Florida. Best Science or Nature Documentary Program or Series was awarded to Moose: A Year in the Life of a Twig Eater during the previous ceremonies this week.

Other big winners on the film front included Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World, which won six awards including Best Motion Picture. Race, starring Stephan James as runner Jesse Owens, won four awards including Actor in a Lead Role, and Bruce McDonald’s Weirdos won two awards for Best Original Screenplay (Daniel MacIvor) and Best Supporting Actress (Molly Parker).

Ted Rogers Best Feature Length Documentary
I am the Blues, Daniel Cross, Bob Moore, Mila Aung-Thwin, Bruce Cowley

Best Editing in a Feature Length Documentary
★Dave De Carlo, Giants of Africa

Best Cinematography in a Feature Length Documentary
★John Price, I am the Blues

Best Documentary Short
this river – Katherena Vermette, Erika MacPherson, Alicia Smith, David Christensen

Donald Brittain Award For Best Social/Political Documentary Program
Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr – Patrick Reed, Michelle Shephard, Peter Raymont