Creator: Jason Buxton
Nominator: Rohan Fernando
Blackbird, released in 2012, is Jason Buxton’s first feature-length dramatic film. Dealing with issues of youth violence, bullying and social media, it tells the story of Sean, an apparent outsider who is accused of planning a school shooting. In a manner that is honest and unromantic, the film peels away layers to reveal Sean not as the villain he first appears but as someone caught up in a web. Blackbird premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival where it won the Best First Canadian Feature. It also won the Best Canadian feature at the Vancouver International Film Festival. This year it won the Claude Jutra Award at the Canadian Screen Awards.
Jury comments: Haunting. Compelling, topical story. Solid conventional drama with excellent cinematography. The visual bleakness makes the action more convincing. The film has had a strong reception. Screenings in schools help it to reach its most important audience.
Creators: Anthony Black, Nick Bottomley, Christian Barry
Nominator: Alexis Milligan
When it Rains described by its creators as a live-action existential graphic novel, tells the story of four people: siblings Allan and Anna and their spouses Sybil and Louis. The play explores their relationships, and their struggles to hold on to their sense of their place in the world. What distinguishes When It Rains is its staging which employs a single projector as the only light source for the entire performance. The interaction of actors and projected silhouette images gives the performance a 2-dimensional effect. The result is an engaging and provocative piece of theatre.
Jury comments: Highly original—lighting and silhouettes produce the effect of a live storybook. 22 scenes do not feel like too many. Elegantly crafted; brilliantly understated. Exceptional production values. Impressive record of reception. It is an ingenious tactic to avoid using (occasionally unreliable) stage lighting in a touring show.
Creator: Steve Higgins
Nominator: Kim Morgan
Beyond the Terminating Vista (Rebuild), constructed entirely of building lumber, occupied a space 60 feet long, 20 feet wide and 20 feet high at MSVU Art Gallery. During the six-week construction phase the gallery was open to visitors, who could talk with the artist and his young crew as they worked. Higgins describes this witnessing of his process as a “theatre of labour.” In the second phase the finished work was presented, and at the exhibition’s close it was dismantled and the parts donated to Habitat for Humanity. Monumental yet ephemeral, Beyond the Terminating Vista (Rebuild) formed a collage-like compendium of modernist architectural motifs. Some of these were physically accessible to viewers and others, floating overhead, were available only to the eye.
Jury comments: Courageous of the artist to tackle such a large space. A sophisticated piece and a bold step in a new direction for the artist. Vantage points from 2 separate elevations were well considered. Laboriousness of the process a key component in the significance of the work. Long, 2-phase exposure (work in progress, then the finished work) achieved effective public impact. Well–presented nomination supported by excellent photographic documentation.