New Brunswick has an average of 523 reported sexual assaults per year (2013-2017). In the wake of the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and the #metoo movement, it is not unusual that sexual assault is an important topic for films made in New Brunswick, especially those by women.
Personal and traumatic stories of sexual assault were showcased at the 18th Annual Silver Wave Film Festival awards ceremony on Nov. 10, 2018. The event, presented by radio personality Ryan “Crash” Barton and seasoned host Corena Walby, celebrated the filmmaking of local directors and technicians over four days.
Organized by the NB Filmmaker’s Co-op, the Fredericton festival shines an annual spotlight on local, regional and international filmmaking and is a central moment for filmmaking in New Brunswick.
Tracy Lavigne’s short film Mnemosyne won a whopping six prizes.
The film’s title references the goddess of memory and this very delicate story examines life after a sexual assault for a young woman. In her introduction, Lavigne mentioned that she had initially shied away from sharing the story of her experience of sexual assault but was glad she had been able to.
Along with winning best NB Short drama (for the second year in a row), Lavigne herself secured the award for best editing. Emerging from many nominations, Lavigne’s cameraperson, Jesse Anthony, won best cinematography, while technician Bruce LeGrow won for sound design, and actress Maggie Vaughan won best supporting actress.
The film also garnered the highest number of votes for Viewer’s Choice Award.
Seasoned director Lavigne, who presented her previous film, Glitter, at the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax last September, also won the East Coast Camera Rental Award for her next project, worth $5000.
Last year’s Jane LeBlanc Award winner, nurse and filmmaker Kaitlyn Adair, received two significant prizes.
Adair won best actress for her leading role in her film, March 2.4, a film named for the final date of the Jian Gomeshi Trial. The movie, which she wrote, co-directed and starred in, describes life after sexual assault. For her rendering of this intimate story, Adair received the Lex Gigeroff Excellence in Screenwriting Award.
Inspired by her positive experience making March 2.4, Adair authored a new script called Together We Move, which garnered her the CBC/NB Joy Award, worth $8,500.
A third film inspired by the current crisis of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls, Sister’s Dirge, by UNB Media Arts & Cultures Film Production graduate Ty Giffin, won best student short. This film, that examines the trauma of disappearance, was also screened at the Atlantic Film Festival in September.
Exceptionally, the Jane LeBlanc Filmmaker Award handed out two awards this year. Both Corinne Brownlee and Brenda Malley won the prize (valued at $1880 each), promising their finished films for the 2019 festival.
In the technical categories, Zachary Greer won for his musical composition in the film Nashwaak while Arianna Martinez and Cassidy Ingersoll were honoured for art direction for Martinez’ film Letters from the Dead.
In the acting categories, Tony Tomarchio won Best Actor for Infinity land and Chris Gairns won best supporting actor for Friend Zone.
In the genre categories, Peter de Niverville won for Best Experimental film for his film Boy in the Garden, Jackie Torrens won Best Low Budget Documentary, Charles Wahl won Best SciFi Short, Henry Colin won Best Canadian/International Short and Millefiore Clarkes won Best Documentary.
Finally, to recognize personal investment in the local film community, local director Gia Milani was honoured with a prize to salute a woman working in film and television in the province, co-sponsored by the Women in Film and Television Atlantic organization. Longtime volunteer Jeff Picka won the Brian Carty Volunteer Recognition Award and local production company Frictive Pictures won the Jim Lavoie Film Professional Recognition Award.
Sophie M. Lavoie, an editorial board member for the NB Media Co-op, writes on arts and culture.