Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Toronto Critics name Monsieur Lazhar Best Canadian Film

Philippe Falardeau Wins ROGERS BEST CANADIAN FILM AWARD and Cash Prize of $15,000

TORONTO - Monsieur Lazhar, Philippe Falardeau’s intimate tale of an insightful teacher who helps a classroom of Quebec children through a devastating loss, has won the Toronto Film Critics Association’s Rogers Best Canadian Film Award.

The award was presented to Falardeau by Andrea Martin at a gala dinner held January 10 at the historic Carlu in downtown Toronto. Also nominated for the award were Café de Flore, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, and A Dangerous Method, directed by David Cronenberg.

The cash value of the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award is $15,000.
Monsieur Lazhar is the official Canadian entry for the 2011 Academy Awards.

“There’s a luminous warmth to this film that rings utterly true,” said TFCA President Brian D. Johnson, film critic for Maclean’s magazine. “Philippe Falardeau explores dire issues with an understated touch and huge heart. I don’t know what they’re putting in the water in Montreal, but after Denis Villeneuve won this award last year for Incendies, once again a Quebec filmmaker has knocked us out with an immigrant drama adapted from a stage play.”

“We are pleased to once again support this fantastic event,” added Phil Lind, Vice Chairman, Rogers Communications Inc. “Toronto is a city of cinephiles, and our critics are second to none. Sponsoring the Best Canadian Film award is an important component of Rogers’ support for Canadian expression. Monsieur Lazharis an engaging and emotional story, and we’re thrilled to recognize the film and filmmaker as this year’s award recipients.”

The directors of the runner-up films, David Cronenberg and Jean-Marc Vallée, each received a new iPhone 4S from Rogers.

Don McKellar presented the 2011 Deluxe Student Film Award to York University student Janice Lee for her short film faraway. The award carries a value of $5,000 in post-production services from Deluxe Toronto.

Bruce McDonald presented the TFCA’s Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist to Toronto filmmaker Ingrid Veninger (i am a good person/i am a bad person). The prize is accompanied by a $5,000 cash award.

“Jay Scott was a critic who loved to discover adventurous talents inventing themselves on the outskirts of the industry,” said Johnson. “Ingrid Veninger is a true independent, a maker of intimate films that seem born of the moment. Her work is infused with a spirit of generosity that extends to her presence in the film community asToronto’s queen of low-budget cinema.”

"Receiving the Jay Scott Prize for Emerging Talent from the Toronto Film Critics Association is a great honour," said Ingrid Veninger. "It's impossible for me to imagine not making movies; but sometimes the obstacles seem insurmountable and a little bit of encouragement goes a long way. In 1990, I saw Jay Scott at the TIFF screening for 'H'. I had a small role in the film and he smiled at me after the screening. This might not seem like a big deal, but it meant a lot to me, because his smile was full of encouragement. Now, I make personal, micro-budget films and I hope they are genuine and provocative. I work with talented and committed people who want a filmmaking adventure. And I am grateful to every person who comes out to see the films in the end, because that exchange with an audience is the point of the entire process. Tomorrow, the $5000 award money is going right into my next feature -- a fantasy, musical, lesbian, road trip -- I like to imagine that Jay would like it."

Established in 1997, the Toronto Film Critics Association is comprised of Toronto based journalists and broadcasters who specialize in film criticism and commentary. All major dailies, weeklies and a variety of other print and electronic outlets are represented.

The TFCA is especially grateful to founding sponsor, Rogers Communications Inc, and welcomes MasterCard as our new cocktail sponsor. The TFCA also thanks RBC for its ongoing support and is grateful to its additional sponsors: Maclean’s magazine, The Globe and Mail, Moet & Chandon, Four Seasons Hotel, Deluxe, Ontario Media Development Corporation, Cineplex Entertainment, Maclaren McGill, Fabbrica, The Carlu and Citytv.

The TFCA is affiliated with the International Federation of International Film Critics (FIPRESCI). Members have sat on juries at festivals in Cannes Toronto, Berlin, Venice, Miami, Palm Springs, Vienna, Chicago, Pusan, Moscow, San Francisco, Warsaw, Amsterdam and London, among others.

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