The Toronto International Film Festival will honor award-winning documentary filmmaker, artist and activist Alanis Obomsawin with the Jeff Skoll Award in Impact Media at this year’s TIFF Tribute Awards.
A member of the Abenaki Nation and one of Canada’s most distinguished filmmakers, Obomsawin is a filmmaker and producer at the National Film Board of Canada, where she’s worked since 1967. In December 2020 she was honored with the Rogers-DOC Luminary Award at the DOC Institute Honours, given to an individual who embodies the creative spirit of the Canadian documentary tradition and displays generosity through mentoring the next generation of documentary makers. She was also awarded the Glenn Gould Prize in October, selected by an international jury. In June of 2019 she was named a Companion of the Order of Canada, the country’s highest honor.
“An exciting highlight of the Festival is a career retrospective of one of the most acclaimed Indigenous directors in the world, Alanis Obomsawin, entitled Celebrating Alanis. The Jeff Skoll Award in Impact Media recognizes leadership in creating a union between social impact and cinema. As a gifted documentary filmmaker and impassioned storyteller, Alanis brings awareness to vital Indigenous issues and is widely recognized as a national treasure because of her extraordinary body of work,” said Joana Vicente, executive director and co-head of TIFF, in a release.
Obomsawin’s 2019 film Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger marked her 52nd production in the 52nd year of her career, one she’s devoted to telling the stories of First Nations people and exploring issues that affect everyone. Later this fall, the retrospective Alanis Obomsawin: Lifework will be presented at Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt.
The TIFF Tribute Awards honor outstanding contributors to the film industry and their achievements, recognizing leading industry members, acting talent, directorial expertise, new talent and a below-the-line artist and creator. Organizers also announced that Academy Award-nominated French Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve (Dune, Blade Runner 2049) will receive the TIFF Ebert Director Award at the TIFF Tribute Awards.