The debut film from Nova Scotian director Jason Buxton, "Blackbird," took the $10,000 jury prize and coveted title of Best Canadian Feature at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) this past weekend.
The movie follows Sean Randall (played by breakout star Connor Jessup, who also stars in the new sci-fi series "Falling Skies"), who is a troubled teen but is not nearly as troubled as his ignorant small-town community and its justice system make him out to be. Life has been hard on him, and as the film continues viewers see just how hard life can turn out for the boy.
The cast also includes Alexia Fast ("Triple Dog"), Michael Buie ("The Next Three Days"), and Alex Ozerov (this was his first major role in acting).
An honourable mention for Best Canadian Feature at the festival was awarded to B.C.'s "Becoming Redwood," which was written and directed by Jesse James Miller and features his wife, Jennifer Copping, although he himself was unable to attend the event. The jury noted the film’s “beautiful journey that transports you to the 1970s,” and cited the phenomenal performance by the film’s now 14-year-old lead. “Ryan Grantham carries the film with extraordinary gravitas on his 14-year-old shoulders, winning the audience over" (Vancouver Sun).
The awards were given out at a gala ceremony to close out VIFF on Sunday night.