Ashley McKenzie’s Werewolf was this year’s winner of the Best Canadian Feature prize from the Toronto Film Critics Association. Werewolf, McKenzie’s debut feature, offers the raw verité-style story of two meth addicts struggling to go clean in their sparse Cape Breton community. The film scooped a cash prize of $100,000 to go along with the honours.
“Our winning filmmakers brought compassion and insight to subjects of national and global concern, including homelessness, drug addiction and personal redemption," said TFCA president Peter Howell in a statement from the association.
This year’s Canuck contingent saw three first features nominated for the big award. Also up for Best Canadian feature were Kevan Funk’s hockey drama/deconstruction of masculinity, Hello Destroyer, and Joyce Wong’s offbeat and provocative strip mall saga Wexford Plaza. Werewolf was the favourite heading into the night having won McKenzie the Jay Scott prize for emerging talent at last year’s ceremony and given that it has the loudest champions in the Toronto crowd. Funk and Wong received $5000 as runner-up purses.
This year’s Jay Scott prize went to Sofia Bohdanowicz, whose remarkable documentary Maison du Bonheur is a sleeper hit on the Canadian festival circuit. Maison du Bonheur won Best Canadian Documentary from the Vancouver Film Critics Circle the previous evening.
Other Canuck winners included Atanarjuat and Maliglutitdirector Zach Kunuk, who received the honour of the Technicolour Clyde Gilmour Award. The pay-if-forward style award let the veteran filmmaker bestow $50,000 in services to an emerging talent and he picked Montreal-based Inuk filmmaker and visual artist Isabella Weetaluktuk.
The big winner of the evening was The Florida Project, which scooped Best Film and Best Supporting Actor (Willem Dafoe). Star Bria Vinaite accepted the awards for The Florida Project team. Other winners included Faces Places for documentary, Lady Bird's Greta Gerwig for Best Director, recent Golden Globe winner Frances McDormand for Best Actress for Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.Canuck co-pro The Breadwinner for Best Animated Feature, and Sweden's The Square for Best Foreign Language Film.