Venus is a beautifully touching story of a South Asian transgender woman, who sees her life flipped on its head when she meets a "white" teenaged son she didn’t know she had. Award-winning Marjara gives a fresh take in her directing style, delivering a resounding plea for casting off gender stereotypes. The jury stated: “Venus is both a touching drama about the hardship of transition and how it affects family, friendships, and relationships but it's also a really lovely and reaffirming story of love and the strength of friends and family. And we enthusiastically applaud the brilliant performance from Debargo Sanyal, who moved us to new understanding. Brava Majara and Sanyal.”
By R. Paul Dhillon – Editor-Founder DESIBUZZCanada
WHISTLER – Montreal-based Indo-Canadian filmmaker Eisha Marjara won the Alliance of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) presented EDA Best Female-Directed Narrative Feature as the Whistler Film Festival Announced 2017 Winners.
Venus is a beautifully touching story of a South Asian transgender woman, who sees her life flipped on its head when she meets a "white" teenaged son she didn’t know she had. Award-winning Marjara gives a fresh take in her directing style, delivering a resounding plea for casting off gender stereotypes.
The jury stated: “Venus is both a touching drama about the hardship of transition and how it affects family, friendships, and relationships but it's also a really lovely and reaffirming story of love and the strength of friends and family. And we enthusiastically applaud the brilliant performance from Debargo Sanyal, who moved us to new understanding. Brava Majara and Sanyal.”
The other big Winners of the 2017 Whistler Film Festival's 17th annual edition included Ian Lagarde’s first feature All You Can Eat Buddha and Jason and Carlos Sanchez’s A Worthy Companion, which tied for the $15,000 cash prize presented by the Directors Guild of Canada, British Columbia and the $15,000 post-production prize sponsored by Encore Vancouver in the 14th edition of the coveted Borsos Competition for Best Canadian Feature Film.
The jury states “each in their own way convey unique visions and creative storytelling the jury believes have made and will make powerful contributions to the world of cinema.”
A Worthy Companion takes a fresh and new perspective that explores the complexity and humanity within the predator, victim relationship. This film questions how we perpetuate manipulative power dynamics between adult and child through the inner struggle of our female protagonists.
While All You Can Eat Buddha is a movie that pushes the boundaries of image and sound and proposes an unusual, and assured cinematic narrative that juxtaposes dream and reality in a lost paradise.
In addition, the jury awarded Ian Lagarde with the Best Borsos Director Award presented by the Directors Guild of Canada, British Columbia
On the acting front, Evan Rachel Wood, star of the Canadian film A Worthy Companion, was the recipient of this year’s Best Performance in a Borsos Competition Film Award. The jury noted that “Evan gives a brave, raw nuance performance that explores the grey areas between predator and victim”.
The Borsos Award for Best Screenplay went to Grayson Moore, writer and co-director of Cardinals, which presents a fresh take on the psychological drama that unfolds with the unpredictability of a great novel.
Best Cinematography in a Borsos Film, presented by I.A.T.S.E. Local 669, went to cinematographer Sara Mishara for A Worthy Companion, with an honourable mention to Nicolas Bolduc for Hochelaga, Land Of Souls.
The World Documentary Award was presented to The Gospel According To Andre, directed by Kate Novack. The jury stated: “The winner of the world documentary award delivers a fascinating portrait of a larger-than-life personality, but admirably escapes the trappings of simple biography by revealing how a towering, influential figure still thrives in an imperfect world.”
The jury also gave an honourable mention to Alan Zweig, director of There is a House Here, which is a film that explores the harsh realities of a fractured community and yet it discovers, in fact, that society can gather together and create a strong and supportive community for those in perpetual need.
The World Documentary jury included well known Indo-Canadian Vancouver-based filmmaker Vic Sarin, one of Canada’s most celebrated filmmakers, earning recognition as one of Canada’s premier cinematographers.
The Best Mountain Culture Film Award presented by Whistler Blackcomb went to Depth Perception directed, by Chip Taylor and Chris Murphy.
The $1,000 Canadian ShortWork Award went to We Forgot To Break Up, directed by Chandler Levack. The jury stated that “this cinematically stunning short film delivers at every turn
The International ShortWork Award went to Fear Us Women, directed by David Darg. The $500 ShortWork Student Award went to Floating Light, directed by Natalie Murao.
The MPPIA Short Film Award, presented by MPPIA and Creative BC, was awarded to Veronika Kurz for 20 Minutes to Life. The award consists of a $15,000 cash award plus up to $100,000 in services.
The Alliance of Women Film Journalists presented the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Short Film to Sharren Lee’s The Things You Think I'm Thinking.
Last but not least, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists presented a Special Jury EDA Award to Kyra Sedgwick for her directorial debut Story Of A Girl, one of the best films that I saw at the festival.
The jury stated: “A well balanced, timely and beautifully crafted film about a teenage girl dealing with the fallout of modern-day bullying. Anchored by a wonderful lead performance from Ryann Shane and memorable turns from Kevin Bacon and Sosie. We take special pleasure and pride in presenting the EDA Award to Kyra because as a young actress she actually played the granddaughter of the Eda for whom the awards are named, activist actress Eda Reiss Merin, the mother of AWFJ president, Jennifer Merin. We look forward to seeing more from Kyra!”
Variety’s Vice President and Executive Editor Steven Gaydos acknowledged the Variety 10 Screenwriters to Watch, five of whom were present: Variety’s class of 2017 screenwriters and notable credits include: Liz Hannah ("The Post"), Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan ("Chappaquiddick"), Hallie Meyers-Shyer (“Home Again”), Maggie Betts ("Novitiate"), Tracy Oliver (co-wrote "Girls Trip"), Daniel Steipleman ("On the Basis of Sex" about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which starts filming in September with Mimi Leder directing), Gersh Dorothy Blyskal (Clint Eastwood’s “The 15:17 to Paris”), Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Sarah Ruhl (adapting Gloria Steinem’s memoir “My Life on the Road” with Julie Taymor confirmed to direct), Samuel V. Franco and Evan Kilgore who most recently sold their spec screenplay “Keeper of the Diary” to Fox Searchlight in a six figure bidding war, with Weimaraner Republic producing and Ansel Elgort attached to star), and John Whittington ("Lego/Batman").