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Sarah Polley’s revelatory Stories We Tell won the richest arts prize in Canada Tuesday night, the $ 100,000 TFCA 2012 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award. It was presented at a gala dinner at the Carlu hosted by Cameron Bailey, TIFF artistic director and the TFCA’s founding president.
It was a banner night for Polley, who turned 33 on Tuesday and also received the TFCA’s 2012 Allan King Documentary Award.
Stories We Tell screened at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall after its world premiere in Venice and heads to the Sundance Film Festival later this month. Praised for its poignancy and honesty, Polley explores family secrets, truth and memory in her first documentary.
“In a world where most cash arts prizes are voted by small juries of peers, it puts faith in a diverse group of fiercely independent critics,” Johnson added, praising the “three strong, very different nominees” for the rich prize.
He said the prize money comes from Rogers — not the TFCA — and is awarded without conditions on how it’s spent. “Nothing changes for the TFCA. We are still in the business of voting for the best Canadian film and the award means our decision has more weight and consequence.”
Toronto-born Polley has been a Canadian favourite since she first appeared on TV’s Road to Avonlea. She earned critical praise for The Sweet Hereafter, My Life Without Me and Splice and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for her first outing as a director, the deeply moving drama Away From Her. She also won a Genie Award for Best Achievement in Direction for the film. She followed up with the drama Take This Waltz.
Among the other prizes handed out last night was the $ 5,000 2012 Manulife Financial Best Student Film Award to Ryerson University student Andrew Moir. The TFCA’s Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist went to Toronto filmmaker Nicolás Pereda (Greatest Hits). Sponsored by Deluxe, the prize is accompanied by a $ 5,000 cash award and $ 5,000 in post production services.
The 44-member Toronto Film Critics Association is comprised of Toronto-based journalists and broadcasters who specialize in film criticism and commentary. The Star’s Peter Howell, Linda Barnard and Bruce DeMara are among the TFCA’s members.