The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open wins $100,000 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award

Award recipients, sponsors and presenters of the 23rd annual Toronto Film Critics Association Awards Gala. Photo Credit: George Pimentel Photography

TORONTO ‚ÄďJanuary 10, 2020: The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open¬†‚Äď a drama directed by¬†Kathleen Hepburn¬†and¬†Elle-M√°ij√° Tailfeathers¬†about a friendship between two Indigenous women from different social backgrounds ‚Äď has won the Toronto Film Critics Association‚Äôs 2019¬†Rogers Best Canadian Film Award¬†along with its $100,000 purse.

The award is the richest annual film prize in Canada. It was presented to director Kathleen Hepburn and director/co-star Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers by author and feminist heroine Margaret Atwood, whose dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale inspired the culturally-impactful series that will soon shoot a fourth season in Toronto.

The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open is an adventurous work shot in real time on 16mm film. It co-stars Violet Nelson as a pregnant young woman fleeing an abusive relationship and was previously named one of the top 10 Canadian movies of the year by the Toronto International Film Festival.

As runners-up, Antigone director Sophie Deraspe and Firecrackers director Jasmin Mozaffari each received $5,000 from Rogers Communications.

Hosted by TIFF Artistic Director and Co-Head Cameron Bailey, the ceremony took place at a gala dinner held January 9, 2020 at The Omni King Edward Hotel in Toronto with a cocktail reception sponsored by Cineplex Entertainment.

‚ÄúThe title is poetic, but the story is grounded in the bone-deep reality that animates the best of Canadian film,”TFCA PresidentPeter Howell¬†said of¬†The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open.¬†“TFCA members responded to its empathy, honesty and social currency, as will anyone who views it.”

‚ÄúIt‚Äôs incredibly satisfying to see the TFCA‚Äôs critics celebrate a vital Indigenous story directed by two women working on the cutting edge of Canadian cinema,‚Ä̬†said¬†Rogers Vice-ChairPhil Lind.¬†‚ÄúThe¬†originality, emotional power and sheer nerve of¬†The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open¬†is exactly what this award is designed to encourage.”

At the gala, actors Sarah Gadon (Alias Grace, True Detective) and Kaniehtiio Horn (Letterkenny, Mohawk) introduced messages of thanks from winners, including videos from triple winner, director Bong Joon-ho (Parasite) and Best Actor winner Adam Driver (Marriage Story), and a message from Steven Zaillian, Best Screenplay winner for The Irishman.

Traci Melchor, senior correspondent for CTV’s etalk, handed the award for Best Animated Feature to director Chris Butler for Missing Link. The stop-motion film from Portland’s Laika studios had already won a Golden Globe earlier in the week.

Host Bailey presented the Allan King Documentary Award to Yiqian Zhang, co-producer of American Factory, Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert’s film about a Chinese company that takes over a shuttered GM plant in Ohio, and the cultural clashes that followed in the workplace.

Actor¬†Amanda Brugel¬†(The Handmaid‚Äôs Tale, Kim‚Äôs Convenience) presented actor-director¬†Deragh Campbell¬†with the $10,000¬†Stella Artois Jay Scott Prize¬†for an emerging artist.¬†Campbell has starred in¬†Sofia Bohdanowicz‚Äôs trilogy¬†Never Eat Alone,¬†Veslem√ły’s Song¬†and¬†MS Slavic 7, co-directing the latter. In 2019, she starred in¬†Anne at 13,000 Ft., which received a jury honourable mention at the Toronto International Film Festival.

In its mission to recognize new voices in film criticism, the TFCA gave Victor Stiff the second annual RBC TFCA Emerging Critic Award, presented to him by Canadian comedy legend Rick Mercer. Stiff is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved critic who is an editor at and and a contributor to several online film outlets.

As well, the TFCA gave a special citation to the Canadian independent film distributor Mongrel Media, honouring its 25 years of ‚Äúmaking the Canadian cinematic landscape a richer, more adventurous place.‚ÄĚ In the absence¬†of Mongrel founder¬†Hussain Amarshi, TFCA President¬†Peter Howell¬†led applause for a film distributor that “has immeasurably enriched and enlivened the Canadian film scene,” with its support for such national talents as¬†Sarah Polley,¬†Deepa Mehta¬†and¬†Jennifer Baichwal¬†and international stars like¬†Abbas Kiarostami,¬†Joel and Ethan Coen,¬†Ken Loach¬†and¬†Michael Haneke.

Richard Crouse, host of the CTV talk show Pop Life, and prominent celebrity TV-interviewer Teri Hart welcomed eminent members of the film industry, civic and cultural community on the red carpet, including Atwood, Mercer and Butler, TIFF co-head and executive director Joana Vicente, actress Nahéma Ricci (Antigone) and former TIFF COO and brand-builder Michèle Maheux, recipient of this year’s Technicolor Clyde Gilmour Award. That award came with a pay-it-forward grant of $50,000 in production services to a rising filmmaker, which Maheux presented to Lina Rodriguez. Veteran filmmaker Don McKellar (Last Night, Through Black Spruce) presented the award.

The TFCA is extremely grateful to founding sponsor¬†Rogers Communications¬†for the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award, to returning sponsors¬†Labatt¬†for the Stella Artois Jay Scott¬†Prize for an emerging artist, to¬†Technicolor Creative Services¬†for the Technicolor Clyde Gilmour Award, and to¬†Cineplex Entertainment¬†for the Cineplex cocktail reception. The TFCA thanks¬†Air Canada¬†as the official airline sponsor and¬†RBC¬†for the Emerging Critic Award. The TFCA also thanks¬†champagne sponsorPerrierJou√ęt,¬†The Globe and Mail,¬†Zoomer Magazine,¬†Chair-man Mills,¬†TAXI Canada¬†and welcomes new official hotel sponsor¬†The Omni King Edward Hotel.

(Under the TFCA’s guidelines, contenders eligible for the awards include films released in Canada in 2019 plus films that qualify for the 2019 Oscars and have Canadian distribution scheduled by the end of February 2020.)


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