“Felix and Meira, an unconventional love story between a lonely Montreal man and a married Hasidic Jewish mother, emerged the big winner at the Whistler Film Fest awards brunch Dec. 7, sweeping up all four Borsos Awards including the best Canadian feature, best screenplay, best director for Maxime Giroux, and with the best performance award going to Hadas Yaron.
The Borsos jury included Kim Cattrall (Maverick Award Honouree at WFF), WFF’s honorary ambassador Jason Priestley, and principal at the Entertainment and Media Finance Group, Michael Hirsh.
The Borsos Awards, which include $15,000 in cash and $15,000 in post-production services from Encore, are Canada’s second biggest cash prize for film. The pic previously took the best Canadian film award at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival.
Priestley, who brought his directorial feature film debut to WFF last year with “Cas & Dylan,” said that “it’s getting more difficult for indie films to be seen” and credited the festival with giving them a home. “Business is getting done on a bigger scale every year at WFF,” he remarked.
The World Documentary Award was awarded to Madeleine Grant’s “The Backward Class,” which follows the first graduating class of a special private school for promising low-caste children in India. Grant spent five years working on the project.
The doc was also honored by the New York-based Alliance of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) with its EDA Award for its “eye-opening,” “moving” and “exceptionally well-crafted” take on the challenges, sacrifices, and ethical dilemmas that are being faced. The film tied for best female directed film with Anne Fontaine’s “Gemma Bovery.” AWFJ’s jury also cited “That Guy Dick Miller” as honorable mention.
Variety’s 10 Screenwriters to Watch were also honored at the brunch.
The festival, in its 14th year, showcased eclectic 41 features, including “A Most Violent Year,” “Still Alice,” “A Life in Dirty Movies,” as well as warmly received Canadian films such as “Mountain Men,” a comedy/drama about two brothers lost in the wilderness starring Chace Crawford and Tyler Labine.
Honorees included Cattrall, “How to Train Your Dragon” franchise director/writer Dean DeBlois, veteran producer Don Carmody and actress Sarah Gadon.
For the first time, the fest also played host to the CBC ComedyCoup, an accelerator/competition for comedy creators that climaxed with a packed “Big Deal” pitch event on Dec. 6. The winning pitch, “HumanTown,” will receive $500,000 in production financing towards the creation of a half-hour comedy special to air on CBC next year. In a surprise move, CBC also struck a development deal for pitch “Depflies.”
Four projects were also picked up for development through the China Canada Gateway for Film Script Competition, which returned to Whistler for the third year.