The Stairs lead to big prize

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - ENTERTAINMENT - Vic­to­ria Ahearn

Toronto film crit­ics gave Hugh Gib­son’s The Stairs, about ha­bit­ual drug users in the city’s Re­gent Park com­mu­nity, a $100,000 award for best home­grown fea­ture on Tues­day night.

The in­ti­mate doc­u­men­tary won the Rogers Best Cana­dian Film Award at the Toronto Film Crit­ics As­so­ci­a­tion gala, which drew in lu­mi­nar­ies in­clud­ing Que­bec di­rec­tor De­nis Vil­leneuve, who re­ceived an award for ex­cel­lence.

Gib­son spent five years fol­low­ing so­cial work­ers who help drug users through harm-re­duc­tion meth­ods while also bat­tling their own ad­dic­tion is­sues at the com­mu­nity health cen­tre.

“They’re in­cred­i­ble peo­ple — they’re funny, they’re ar­tic­u­late, they’re not what you ex­pect,” he said in an in­ter­view. “There are a lot of pre­con­cep­tions about what a drug user, what a sex-trade worker is.

“You don’t nec­es­sar­ily think of mother, grand­mother, poet, some­one who is funny, whip-smart, et cetera.”

In his ac­cep­tance speech, he thanked those who let him into their lives and taught him about strength, re­silience and “a dif­fer­ent way of see­ing street life.”

The Rogers Best Cana­dian Film Award is said to be the rich­est film award in the coun­try. The run­ner­sup, who each re­ceived $5,000, were How Heavy This Ham­mer by Kazik Rad­wan­ski and Op­er­a­tion Avalanche by Matt John­son.

Vil­leneuve re­ceived the TFCA 20th An­niver­sary Award for Ex­cel­lence, on the same day his scifi film Ar­rival re­ceived nine nominations for the Bri­tish Academy Film Awards, in­clud­ing best di­rec­tor.

Cel­e­brated doc­u­men­tary maker Ala­nis Obom­sawin re­ceived the Clyde Gil­mour Award, which comes with $50,000 in Tech­ni­color ser­vices to give to a film­maker of her choice. She chose Amanda Strong.

Cam­er­ap­er­son by New York cin­e­matog­ra­pher Kirsten John­son won the $5,000 Cana­dian Tire Allan King Doc­u­men­tary Award.

Were­wolf di­rec­tor Ash­ley Mcken­zie of Cape Bre­ton Is­land, N.S., won the $5,000 Stella Ar­tois Jay Scott Prize for an emerg­ing artist.

Pre­vi­ously an­nounced win­ners in­clude Moon­light for best pic­ture and best sup­port­ing ac­tor for Ma­her­shala Ali.

The Ger­man-aus­trian fa­ther­daugh­ter comedy Toni Erd­mann won a lead­ing three awards while Ken­neth Lon­er­gan’s drama Manch­ester by the Sea won two.

Chris Young/ Cana­dian Press

Di­rec­tor Hugh Gib­son stands with his award for Best Cana­dian Film for his film The Stairs at the Toronto Film Crit­ics As­so­ci­a­tion Awards, on Tues­day.

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