The Forbidden Room, Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson’s giddy mash-up of Golden Age adventure serials, has won the Toronto Film Critics Association’s 2015 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award.
The award was presented to the filmmakers by fellow director Don McKellar – whose Last Night was named the TFCA’s Best Canadian Film in 1998- at a gala dinner held January 5, 2016 at the historic The Carlu in downtown Toronto. Also nominated for the award were Philippe Falardeau’s My Internship In Canada and Andrew Cividino’s Sleeping Giant. In attendance were prominent members of the film industry, including actors Vinay Virmani (Breakaway, Dr. Cabbie) and Tara Spencer-Nairn (Corner Gas), directors Michael Dowse (The F Word) and Bruce McDonald (Hard Core Logo, The Husband), producers Nick de Pencier, Roger Frappier and Félize Frappier, David Hamilton, Martin Katz, David Miller, Ajay Virmani, and Robert and Ari Lantos.
The Honourable Michael Coteau, Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and Drew Fagan, Ontario Deputy Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, were also present, as well as Ellis Jacob, President & CEO, Cineplex Entertainment; Jeffrey Remedios, president of Universal Music Canada; Tara Ellis, Head of Scripted Content at CBC; Hussain Amarshi, President of Mongrel Media; Patrick Roy, President of eOne Films Canada; Karen Thorne-Stone, President and CEO, OMDC, and Michelle Maheux, TIFF Executive Director and CEO.
The $100,000 value of the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award makes it the richest annual film prize in Canada. As runners-up, Falardeau and Cividino each received $5,000 from Rogers Communications.
This marks Maddin’s second win of the TFCA’s top Canadian prize. His puckish memoir My Winnipeg received the award in 2008.
“At its best, Canadian cinema is notorious for stunning the world with outlandish originality,” said TFCA President Brian D. Johnson. “And that’s what Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson have done with The Forbidden Room. Their film is a tour de force. The stellar casting, the visual wit, the narrative gymnastics—this is a cinematic cirque that leaves us amazed that it could even exist.”
“Guy Maddin won our inaugural Rogers Best Canadian Film Award with My Winnipeg,” said Phil Lind, Vice-Chair of Rogers Communications. “Since then, the prize has grown and so has his cinema. The Forbidden Room is a spectacular marriage of high art and entertainment. And I’m delighted to reward the unique genius of its creators, Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson.”
Actor/producer Katie Boland introduced a series of acceptance speeches from winners Todd Haynes (named Best Director for Carol, this year’s Best Picture); Phoenix star Nina Hoss (Best Actress) and director Christian Petzold (accepting that film’s Best Foreign-Language Film award); Mark Rylance (Best Supporting Actor, Bridge Of Spies); Alicia Vikander (Best Supporting Actress for Ex Machina, which was also named Best First Feature); Joshua Oppenheimer (director of The Look of Silence, which won this year’s Allan King Documentary Award) and Aardman Animations’ Mark Burton and Richard Stark, directors of this year’s Best Animated Feature, Shaun the Sheep Movie.
As previously announced, Deepa Mehta is the winner of the Technicolor Clyde Gilmour Award, which was presented at the event by 2014 Gilmour winner Piers Handling. Under the pay-it-forward terms of the award, Technicolor donated $50,000 in services to a filmmaker of Mehta’s choosing—documentarian Nisha Pahuja, director of The World Before Her.
Also announced, Quebecois director Anne Émond (Nuit #1, Les êtres chers) won the Stella Artois Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist, which was presented by Sarah Gadon. Émond received a cheque for $5,000 from Stella Artois.
Matt Johnson presented the Manulife Student Film Award to Vladimir Paskaljevic (York University) for his cross-continental drama Absence Is Present. The award carries a cash prize of $5,000, donated by Manulife to celebrate the spirit of volunteerism that is at the heart of student film-making and the power of storytelling to inspire active citizenship.
The TFCA is extremely grateful to founding sponsor Rogers Communications Inc. and welcomes new accessory sponsor Birk’s and Stella Artois. Thanks to returning sponsors Manulife Financial, Cineplex Entertainment, Technicolor Creative Services, Maclean’s Magazine, the Globe and Mail, Shangri-La Hotel Toronto, MacLaren Craft and Ontario Media Development Corporation.