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Showing posts with label awards. Show all posts
Showing posts with label awards. Show all posts

Megan Durnford, her film LAST RESPECTS, and the Betty Youson Award for Best Canadian Short Documentary

Megan Durnford with her Betty Youson Award for Best Canadian Short Documentary. Photo by her daughter Charlotte Dunford-Dionne
Megan Durnford (photo courtesy of Charlotte Dunford-Dionne by way of the Westmount Independent

Well, in the category of “better late than never,” I just discovered that Megan Durnford won one helluva an award back in May*. The award is the Betty Youson Award for Best Canadian Short Documentary and is for Megan’s short documentary LAST RESPECTS (more on that in just one sec). As some of you know, Megan is also the writer and director behind I AM STILL YOUR CHILD, a documentary dealing with so-called COPMI (“Children of Parents with Mental Illness”). Yours truly was in that film, dealing with my mom’s diagnosis of schizophrenia and what growing up in that environment was like.

Regrettably, I have not seen LAST RESPECTS as of yet, but the film deals with a part of our culture that is really never talked about, at least publicly. As Megan noted, “What happens to Montrealers who die alone and whose bodies are not ‘claimed’ by loved ones?” As she began doing research, she came across a short article that discussed Father Claude Paradis and his annual ceremony for these forgotten people of Montreal. Rather than have me blather on about it, though, you can read Megan’s own thoughts about the film by reading her essay at https://povmagazine.com/reflections-on-the-making-of-last-respects/. The trailer for the film is on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8vOsGlC5BQ

The film also led to a really unique collaboration. Megan worked with her son, Hugh Durnford-Dionne, a cinematographer and editor in his own right and the two were able to mesh their skills as they developed the film project. While I’ve only met Hugh briefly, it is really neat that the two of them were able to work together in such a fashion. Not every family could actually complete a journey like that.

As the HOT DOCS — Jury statement notes, “For its human, simple and necessary approach to the universal theme of the dignity and value of every single life that stands out by virtue of its compelling, skilfully crafted visual language as much as its personal story and message.” And Instagram has a snazzy photo of Megan accepting her award!

I would encourage you to seek out the film, as I plan on doing, and also follow along with Megan’s career. And remember: she is not only a filmmaker, but is an author.

Salut, Megan!

* Yes, May, but I only came across the news yesterday courtesy of Westmount Independent, based in the island of Montreal.

Peter Honeywell Mid-Career Artist Award Nomination

Peter Honeywell Mid-Career Artist Award Nomination graphic for Von Allan
Ottawa, Ontario (April 3, 2020): Von Allan, an Ottawa-based artist and comics creator, is one of the three shortlisted artists for the Peter Honeywell Mid-Career Artist Award through the Ottawa Arts Council. The award was established to recognize and encourage the achievements of Ottawa artists of all disciplines who have evolved beyond the emerging stage in their career to become recognized professional working artists contributing to the community. His fellow nominees are AM Dumouchel and Rebecca Noelle.

“In general, I try to measure my artistic achievements against my own goals and dreams,” said Allan. “In the arts and, I think, in life, the only real competition is against yourself. To push yourself. To grow stronger. To always be learning. For a long time that has been a difficult struggle for me. My learning curve and development as an artist was long and slow, with a lot of frustrating and discouraging reversals along the way. The key, at least for me, was to always keep trying to grow into the artist I imagined I could be. From that point of view, art awards are not something an artist ‘wins’ or ‘loses,’ but rather a signpost or waypoint along the journey. And I’m very pleased with this signpost!”

Wolf's Head Issue 1 Cover Illustrated by Von Allan
“Being shortlisted for the Peter Honeywell Mid-Career Artist Award is a significant step in my art career and a huge honour,” added Allan. “I’ve been aware of this award for awhile but it has always seemed out of reach. To be here now, nominated with two other amazing artists, is humbling. It’s also wonderful to be here as a comics creator. I am deeply grateful to the judges for their consideration.”

Von Allan was nominated in part for his ongoing comics project ‘Wolf’s Head.’ The story follows a newly created artificial intelligence (AI) on the run from its creators with the unexpected help of a janitor, her ex-police officer daughter, and their dog. ‘Wolf’s Head’ features Lauren Greene, a young woman who quits her job as a police officer after becoming frustrated with growing police violence. At the same time as Lauren is quitting, a secretive corporation across town has managed to create a seemingly perfect AI for war and profit; however, before the corporation can use the AI, Lauren’s mother, Patty, a janitor at the corporation, finds it. Patty is literally the kindest person the new lifeform has ever met and, as a result, it bonds to her, rejects its purpose and creators, and orchestrates a huge accident to cover an escape. Patty, overwhelmed, asks her daughter Lauren for help. Despite being broke and a bit lost herself, Lauren agrees to help, setting the stage for the story that follows: two humans, an AI, and a dog versus a warmongering corporation.

Wolf's Head Issue 3 Cover Illustrated by Von Allan
About Von Allan: Von Allan was born red-headed and freckled in Arnprior, Ontario, just in time for “Star Wars: A New Hope.” The single child of two loving but troubled parents, Von split most of his childhood between their two homes. Additional information about Von Allan can be found at https://www.vonallan.com/.

Von was featured in the documentary film “I Am Still Your Child” (http://iamstillyourchild.com/) and was the recipient of the Corel Endowment Fund for the Arts Award in 2014 and the CBCTrailblazer Award in 2019.

About The Peter Honeywell Mid-Career Artist Award: The Peter Honeywell Mid-Career Artist Award, which was renamed in 2019 to honour the legacy of the long-time Council Executive Director. This award is sponsored by GGFL, Chartered Accountants, and Mann Lawyers LLP. The recipient will receive a $5,000 award; two other finalists will receive $1,000 awards. More information about the award can be found at https://ottawaartscouncil.ca/en/council-news/peter-honeywell-mid-career-artist-award.

The Ottawa Arts Council will announce the Peter Honeywell Mid-Career Artist Award recipient at 11 am on April 8, 2020.

About the Ottawa Arts Council: The Ottawa Arts Council is an arts umbrella organization founded in 1982, following a recommendation by the City of Ottawa Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Arts. For over thirty years, the Council has represented the interests of Ottawa artists and collaborates with numerous partners to strengthen the Ottawa arts community.

The Ottawa Arts Council is recognized as a respected, trusted and representative organization. The Ottawa Arts Council's partners include various levels of government and their agencies, businesses, patrons, donors, arts organizations and individual artists. More information about the Ottawa Arts Council can be found at https://ottawaartscouncil.ca/en.


Wolf's Head by Von Allan

Link to Von Allan's Wolf's Head comic book series

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I Am Still Your Child Trailer

Documentary Film Excerpt