Toronto Critics Name ‘The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open’ Best Canadian Film

Violet Nelson and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers in The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open


By Pat Mullen

The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open won this year’s Rogers Best Canadian Film Award from this Toronto Film Critics Association (TFCA). The win was revealed at last night’s TFCA Awards gala at the Omni King Edward Hotel in Toronto. The film received a cash prize of $100,000 courtesy of Rogers—the largest purse for an award in Canadian cinema. Runners-up Firecrackers and Antigone received prizes of $5000.

Directed by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open is a devastating story about two Indigenous woman in Vancouver whose lives collide during an act of domestic violence. The film is brilliantly and urgently told in a succession of long takes shot on 16mm, which makes the tale as immediate as it is relevant. Tailfeathers and Hepburn were on hand to receive the award, presented by author Margaret Atwood, and spoke passionately about the film in the larger context of missing and murdered Indigenous women in which the film is situated.

Other winners at the TFCA gala included Missing Link director Chris Butler, fresh from his Golden Globe win for Best Animated Feature, as well as Toronto-based producer Yiqian Zhang, who accepted the Allan King Award for Documentary on behalf of her American Factory team. American Factory is on the Oscar shortlist for Best Documentary Feature and is largely considered a frontrunner for a nomination on Monday.

The TFCA also revealed the winner of the Stella Artois Jay Scott Prize, which went to actress and filmmaker Deragh Campbell. The award carries a prize of $10,000 courtesy of Stella Artois and honours an outstanding emerging artist. The critics tapped Campbell for the award in recognition of her fearlessness as an artist, particularly in exploring new terrain between fiction and non-fiction through performance, and for the collaborative nature of her work within the Toronto film scene. Campbell’s credits include starring in and co-directing MS Slavic 7 with Sofia Bohdanowicz and a showstopping performance in Kazik Radwanski’s Anne at 13,000 ft, which could easily bring her back to the awards next year.

Other winners included Victor Stiff with the RBC Emerging Critic Award. The prize, now in its second year, recognizes an up-and-coming writer in the Toronto area who has significantly contributed to film criticism while forging his or her own path. Stiff contributes to a number of outlets including That Shelf and In the Seats. The TFCA also gave a special prize to distributor Mongrel Media to mark its 25th anniversary and to honour its role in connecting audiences with independent, Canadian, and international cinema.

The night also celebrated Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite with three wins including Best Film and Best Director, which were announced in December. The director sent a video thanking the TFCA for the recognition and gave a special shout-out to the Toronto International Film Festival for supporting his work. Best Actor Adam Driver also sent a video, while winners Olivia Wilde (Booksmart) and Steven Zaillian (The Irishman) sent notes of appreciation to thank the TFCA for supporting their films.

The complete list of TFCA Award winners is as follows:

ROGERS BEST CANADIAN FILM AWARD
The Body Remembers When the World Broken Open directed by Kathleen Hepburn and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (levelFilm)

Runners-up
Antigone directed by Sophie Deraspe (Maison 4:3)
Firecrackers directed by Jasmin Mozaffari (levelFilm)

BEST PICTURE
Parasite (MK2)

Runners-up
The Irishman (Netflix)
Marriage Story (Netflix)

ALLAN KING DOCUMENTARY FILM AWARD
American Factory (Netflix)

Runners-up
Apollo 11 (Elevation Pictures)
The Cave (Mongrel Media)

BEST ACTOR
Adam Driver, Marriage Story (Netflix)

Runners-up
Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (Netflix)
Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory (Mongrel Media)

BEST ACTRESS
Lupita Nyong’o, Us (Universal)

Runners-up
Renée Zellweger, Judy (eOne)
Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story (Netflix)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony)

Runners-up
Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse (VVS Films)
Joe Pesci, The Irishman (Netflix)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Laura Dern, Marriage Story (Netflix)

Runners-up
Florence Pugh, Little Women (Sony)
Julia Fox, Uncut Gems (Netflix)

BEST DIRECTOR
Bong Joon-ho, Parasite (MK2)

Runners-up
Martin Scorsese, The Irishman (Netflix)
Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story (Netflix)

BEST SCREENPLAY, ADAPTED OR ORIGINAL
The Irishman by Steven Zaillian from the book by Charles Brandt (Netflix)

Runners-up
Parasite by Bong Joon-ho (MK2)
Marriage Story by Noah Baumbach (Netflix)

BEST FIRST FEATURE
Booksmart directed by Olivia Wilde (eOne)

Runners-up
Atlantics directed by Mati Diop (Netflix)
Queen & Slim directed by Melina Matsoukas (eOne)

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Missing Link (Elevation Pictures)

Runners-up
Toy Story 4 (Disney/Pixar)
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (Universal)
Frozen 2 (Disney)

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
Parasite (MK2)

Runners-up
Pain and Glory (Mongrel Media)
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (MK2)

TECHNICOLOR CLYDE GILMOUR AWARD:
Michèle Maheux

RBC EMERGING CRITIC AWARD
Victor Stiff

STELLA ARTOIS JAY SCOTT PRIZE
Deragh Campbell

SPECIAL AWARD
Mongrel Media on its 25th anniversary