Nova Scotian filmmaker Heather Young’s feature-length documentary debut Murmur has been awarded with the FIPRESCI Prize of the Discovery Program at the 43rd Toronto International Film Festival.
The Prize of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) rewards films that the organization deems as enterprising filmmaking. The award is given out during a variety of film festivals, including the Vienna International Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, the Cannes Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival and the Warsaw International Film Festival.
“Winning the FIPRESCI Prize for the Discovery Program at TIFF is a wonderful surprise and a true honor,” said Young, in a statement. “This film was made with a small budget and a small crew in Nova Scotia and I am so proud that everyone’s hard work has led us to this very special recognition.”
The FIPRESCI jury is comprised of jury president Rita di Santo (UK), Frédéric Jaeger (Germany), Liam Lacey (Canada), Ruben Peralta Rigaud (Dominican Republic), Müge Turan (Turkey), and Claire Valade (Canada).
The documentary-narrative hybrid film (pictured), produced by Martha Cooley, captures an enduring story of aging and the human-animal connection. The 84-minute Murmur shares the story of Donna, who, grappling with alcohol dependence and loneliness, turns to connecting with a variety of domestic animals in an animal rescue shelter to ease her pain following a DUI charge.
Over time, Donna forms a particular bond with a senior dog that she homes to prevent it being euthanized, opening the door for additional rescues from the shelter and from online sellers until her small apartment is over-run with animals.
The documentary hybrid stars Shan MacDonald as Donna, as well as a roving cast of Nova Scotian non-professional actors.
Murmur held its world premiere at TIFF, and will be the opening gala film at Halifax’s FIN: Atlantic International Film Festival on Sept. 12. The film will also go on to screen at the Vancouver International Film Festival, the Calgary International Film Festival and the Montreal Festival du Nouveau Cinema.
Elsewhere, TIFF revealed it has canceled the closing ceremony, opting to announce its remaining prizes, including the Grolsch People’s Choice Award, on social media and via a press release. A TIFF rep told Playback Daily that the decision was due to the fact that many filmmakers have already departed before the end of the festival, with social media announcements allowing winners to “share the moment” with audiences.
With files from Playback’s Kelly Townsend