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Calgary International Film Festival jury prize goes to I Like Movies

RBC Emerging Canadian Artist Award given to Chandler Levack for her debut feature film

Entertaining, heartfelt, funny, were some of the descriptors that this year’s CIFF jury gave to I Like Movies.

The film, which revolves around a 17-year old forming a complicated relationship with an older female manager at a early 2000s video store, was the winner of this year’s RBC Emerging Canadian Artist Award.

“We thought that Chandler’s featured debut was fully realized. It was entertaining, it was heartfelt, it was funny, but it also went to some dark places, and it wasn’t afraid of being ugly,” said filmmaker Gillian McKercher, who served on the Emerging Canadian Artist jury this year.

“For that reason, we, as the jury, felt that it actually contemplated some really big questions, and we were impressed with that. It’s not easy to pull it off. Usually, a feature debut can pull off one thing very well, but it managed to do a lot of things really, really well.”

She said that the decision to award Levack’s film with the award was unanimous.

The film was up against others such as Adult Adoption, Before I Change My Mind, Riceboy Sleeps, and You Can Live Forever.

The RBC Emerging Canadian Artist Award comes with a $10,000 prize, alongside a right-of-first-refusal deal for American distribution with Gravitas Ventures.

Dark comedy that comes highly recommended for audiences

McKercher had her own dark comedy debut film, Circle of Steel, premiere at CIFF in 2018.

She said she wasn’t naturally drawn to I Like Movies because of her own experience in creating comedy films.

“I do appreciate strong writing and Chandler, she went to the Canadian film centre for the writing program, and she’s clearly a very talented writer,” McKercher said.

“It was just the full package. The lead character, Isaiah, he’s a challenging character to pull off, and he has a lot of flaws but you’re always rooting for him and helping him to redeem himself.”

She said that the film really spoke to the jury this year.

“They actually say that the biggest compliment you can give to a film is that it moved you, and it moved me,” McKercher said.

“I think it’s a film that your casual movie watcher or a cinephile can both equally enjoy, and it’s really engaging and fun and heartfelt so you can bring your you can bring your friends and you can also bring your parents.”

Canadian content strong at this year’s CIFF

McKercher described this year as a strong one for Canadian films.

“I was blown away by the other entries,” she said.

“It was a real joy to watch everything, and I feel very confident that Canada’s cinema future is in really good hands.”

A number of the films being presented this year by Canadian directors and film makers have had showings at the Toronto International Film Festival, at the Venice Film Festival, and Cannes.

Other films selected by juries as standouts included Viking, which was called visually captivating.

“A challenging exploration of gender and sexuality. With a unique voice, one can see the filmmakers’ background as a visual artist in the mise en scene,” said CIFF.

Is This The Place?, directed by Maxwell Couture, was said by the Youth by Youth Canada Short Film jury to be a risky choice for a young filmmaker, but one that paid off.

“The story reveals itself without ever leading the audience too forcefully. The emphasis remains on the character and not the plot… that can be a risky choice as a filmmaker, but it pays off here with an interesting and understated film.”

The CIFF 2022 audience award will be chosen by fans following the completion of the festival. The winner of that award will be announced in October.

CIFF has added additional show times for most of the winning films in all of their award categories. For more details on how to see the films in theatre, or stream them online, see ciffcalgary.ca.

CIFF 2022 Jury Award Winners

  • RBC Emerging Canadian Artist Award ($10,000 prize): I Like Movies, directed by Chandler Levack
  • DGC Canadian Documentary Award ($5,000 prize): The Perfect Story, directed by Michelle Shephard
  • DGC Canadian Documentary Award, Honourable Mention: And Still I Sing, by Fazila Amiri
  • DGC Canadian Documentary Award, Special Jury Prize for the Spirit of the Documentary: Geographies of Solitude, directed by Jacquelyn Mills
  • International Narrative Feature Award ($1,000 prize): Piaffe, directed by Ann Oren
  • International Narrative Feature Award, Honourable Mention: Viking, directed by Stéphane Lafleur
  • International Documentary Feature Award ($1,000 prize): Butterfly in the Sky, directed by Bradford Thomason & Brett Whitcomb
  • International Documentary Feature Award, Honourable Mention: A Bunch of Amateurs, directed by Kim Hopkins
  • International Documentary Feature Award, Special Jury Prize for Cinematography: Children of the Mist, directed by Hà Lệ Diễm
  • Short Film Grand Jury Prize ($2,500 prize): Censor of Dreams, by Leo Berne and Raphaël Rodriguez
  • Live Action Short Film Award ($1,000 prize): No Ghost in the Morgue, directed by Marilyn Cooke
  • Live Action Short Film Award, Honourable Mention: Binge Loving, directed by Thomas Deknop
  • Best Animated Short Film Award ($1,000 prize): The Flying Sailor, directed by Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby
  • Documentary Short Film Award ($1,000 prize): Freedom Swimmer, directed by Olivia Martin-McGuire
  • Documentary Short Film Award, Honourable Mention: My Dudus, directed by Tom Krawczyk
  • Alberta Short Film Devon Bolton Memorial Award ($1,000 prize): Ayoungman, directed by Holly Fortier and Larry Day
  • Alberta Short Film Devon Bolton Memorial Award, Honourable Mention: Hard Labour, directed by Apolla Echino
  • Student Short Film Award ($1,000 prize): Hollywood, directed by Leni Gruber and Alex Reinberg
  • Youth by Youth Canada Short Film Award ($500): Is This The Place? directed by Maxwell Couture
  • Youth by Youth Canada Short Film Special Jury Award: The Life Artist, directed by Heather Addison