Kazik Radwanski’s Anne at 13,000 ft is this year’s winner of the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award from the Toronto Film Critics Association. Anne took the top prize in a live reveal during this year’s TFCA Awards gala, which streamed virtually due to the pandemic. The award was presented by Rogers Vice Chairman Phil Lind. Radwanski receives a cash prize of $100,000 courtesy of Rogers—the largest purse in Canadian film—and nominees Louise Archambault (And the Birds Rained Down) and Calvin Thomas and Yonah Lewis (White Lie) get $5,000 as runners-up. The three nominees provided TFCA members with one of the longest and most passionate debates for the prize yet in a virtual meeting held prior to the vote.
Anne at 13,000 ft is Radwanski’s third feature following Tower (2012) and How Heavy this Hammer (2015). Anne at 13,000 ft is another Toronto story from the director and stars Deragh Campbell has a young woman who finds herself in a tailspin as she clashes with the expectations that society burdens upon her. The film is particularly strong as an example of the next generation of Toronto filmmakers who are learning to do more with less and creating exciting new cinematic languages through collaboration. Back at Anne at 13,000 ft’s TIFF 2019 premiere, I wrote, “It is demanding both emotionally and intellectually, and it barely lets audiences breathe during its efficiently used 75-minute running time.” Campbell won last year’s Stella Artois Jay Scott Prize for her body of work to date.
This year’s Jay Scott Prize went to Toronto-based filmmaker Kelly Fyffe-Marshall. The award acknowledges her body of work as an emerging filmmaker, including last year’s prize-winning short Black Bodies, which screened at TIFF and Sundance, as well as 2018’s Haven, which premiered at SXSW. Fyffe-Marshall is currently working on her first feature.
The TFCA virtual gala included appearances by nearly all the winners of this year’s awards. Virtual acceptance speeches were presented from filmmaker Chloé Zhao (Best Picture and Best Director, Nomadland), Riz Ahmed (Best Actor, Sound of Metal), Daniel Kaluuya (Best Supporting Actor, Judas and the Black Messiah), Maria Bakalova (Best Supporting Actress, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), Lee Isaac Chung (Best Screenplay, Minari), Radha Blank (Best First Feature, The Forty-Year Old Version), Kleber Mendonça Filho (Best Foreign Language Film, Bacurau), Tomm Moore & Ross Stewart (Best Animated Feature, Wolfwalkers) and Alexander Nanau (Allan King Documentary Film Award, Collective). Rounding out the appearances was this year’s Clyde Gilmour Award winner Jason Ryle, former executive director of imagineNATIVE and industry player for developing protocols and practices for fostering Indigenous talents.
This year’s event featured several TFCA members present the awards in “Siskel & Ebert” style conversations filmed at Toronto’s Paradise Theatre. All segments were filmed under strict COVID-19 safety protocols by the event’s creative director R.T. Thorne (“Utopia Falls,” “Blindspot”) and producers Ashleigh Rains (Canadian Strain) and Canadian Film Fest founder Bern Euler.
Last year’s event saw several TFCA Award winners repeat their success at the Academy Awards, including Best Picture winner Parasite and documentary winner American Factory. The TFCA awards considered all films released commercially from January 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021. Films that did not announce or confirm their release prior to voting will be eligible next year.