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The Toronto Film Critics Association has bestowed Canada’s richest annual film prize to Vancouver filmmaker Anthony Shim’s Riceboy Sleeps, a semi-autobiographical drama about a Korean single mother raising her young son in Canada in the 1990s.
The Rogers Best Canadian Film Award, with a purse of $100,000, was announced Monday night during the TFCA’s annual gala, held at the Omni King Edward Hotel in Toronto. Lead actor Ethan Hwang was on hand to accept the prize on behalf of Shim, who was out of town working on another project.
Riceboy Sleeps had its world premiere in September at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the $20,000 Platform prize. It has since played festivals around the world, most recently in Kingston, Ont., where it was the opening-night film of the Kingston Canadian Film Festival. It gets a limited Canadian release starting March 17, with screenings at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox from March 24.
In addition to the TFCA award, Riceboy Sleeps has been named one of Canada’s top 10 films by the Toronto festival group, and has been nominated for Canadian Screen Awards for direction, cinematography, best picture and best leading performance for Choi Seung-yoon, who plays the mother.
The star-studded evening was hosted by actress Amanda Brugel (The Handmaid’s Tale, Infinity Pool) and featured appearances and presentations by actor and Indigenous activist Tantoo Cardinal, comedian Rick Mercer, actress Maitreyi Ramakrishnan (Never Have I Ever, Turning Red), entertainment journalist Teri Hart, TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey and actors Lamar Johnson and Kiana Madeira from the film Brother.
Brother, directed by Clement Virgo, and Crimes of the Future, directed by David Cronenberg, were the runners-up for the Rogers prize, with each receiving $5,000. The TFCA comprises more than 40 Toronto-based journalists and broadcasters who specialize in film criticism and commentary.
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