Anthony Shim says it hasn’t fully settled in yet that his semi-autobiographical film “Riceboy Sleeps” has won one of the biggest film prizes in Canada.
On Monday night, the Toronto Film Critics Association honoured “Riceboy Sleeps” with the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award.
“To have the members of the Toronto Film Critics Association select our film does feel quite surreal,” Shim, a director and actor, said in a phone interview Tuesday morning from Chicago.
The film, about a Korean single mother who moves to Canada, was shot in the Vancouver area and in South Korea. It premiered at both the Toronto International Film Festival and the Busan International Film Festival, and examines the stresses of growing up between two cultures.
It was included in TIFF’s 2022 Canada’s Top Ten, and its selection for the Critics Association’s award comes with $100,000, considered the richest annual film prize in Canada.
Shim says he’s grateful for the monetary gain, however he hasn’t had a moment to stop and think about his plans for the money.
He notes he currently as two films in early development, one being an original piece and the other an adaptation of a novel.
“I’m just doing my best and kind of squeezing a little bit of time here and there, when I can, to keep the ball rolling on those projects,” he said.
As runners-up, Clement Virgo who directed “Brother” and David Cronenberg, director of “Crimes of the Future,” each received $5,000.
One of the lead actors of “Riceboy Sleeps,” Ethan Hwang, accepted the award on Shim’s behalf at a gala dinner at the Omni King Edward Hotel in Toronto.
TFCA president Johanna Schneller says in a statement that while “Riceboy Sleeps” is only Shim’s second feature, it “shimmers with delicacy, empathy and authenticity.”
“We can’t wait to see what he does next,” Schneller said.
The Toronto Film Critics Association is comprised of Toronto-based journalists and broadcasters who specialize in film criticism and commentary.
“Movies like ‘Riceboy Sleeps’ are the reason the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award exists,” said Robin Mirsky, executive director of the Rogers Group of Funds.
“Films reflect who we are, and Anthony Shim’s story resonates with so many Canadian immigrant families. It’s a testament to the idea that the more specific a story is, the more universal it feels.”
Comedian and TV personality Rick Mercer presented the $10,000 Stella Artois Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist to filmmaker Carol Nguyen.
Nguyen’s short films, which are drawn from her life and Vietnamese-Canadian culture, have played at more than 80 film festivals.
The association gave Michelle Krasovitski the fourth annual Telefilm Canada Emerging Critic Award, noting that Krasovitski is a daughter of Soviet-era Ukrainian immigrants “who taught her to appreciate a culture of uncensored film.”
Longtime TIFF programmer Steve Gravestock, who recently retired, won this year’s Company 3 Luminary Award which comes with a pay-it-forward grant of $50,000 in production services to a filmmaker of the recipient’s choice.
Gravestock chose producer/actor Hugh Gibson of “The Stairs” and writer/director Frieda Luk of “The Encounter.”
Director Charlotte Wells was awarded Best Picture, Best Director and Best First Feature for “Aftersun” while Paul Mescal won Best Actor for his role in that film.
Ke Huy Quan won Best Supporting Actor for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” filmmaker Laura Poitras won the Allan King Documentary Award for “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” and Domee Shi won for Best Animated Feature, “Turning Red.”
– With files from Christian Collington in Toronto
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