Bat Boy, Leah Johnston, Hiraku Ando, Glass Eyes of Locust Bayou win cash prizes in NSI Online Short Film Fest

The National Screen Institute – Canada (NSI) recently handed out the latest round of awards in its NSI Online Short Film Festival.

  • Bat Boy, directed by Kheaven Lewandowski, won the $1,250 A&E Short Filmmakers Award for best film;
  • Leah Johnston won the $1,000 Corus Fearless Female Directors Award for best direction by a female for Some Things Won’t Sleep;
  • Hiraku Ando won the $1,000 Brian Linehan Actors Award for his work in River; and
  • Glass Eyes of Locust Bayou, directed by Simon Mercer, won the $1,500 Blue Ant Media Documentary Award for best doc.

All winners also receive a complimentary Friend membership to the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.

The award selection was made by an independent jury: programmer Christian Kelley, screenwriter and industry professional Liz Janzen and filmmaker Justin Oakey – the most recent winner of the A&E Short Filmmakers Award for best film for Flankers.

Our jurors had this to say about the films:

A&E Short Filmmakers Award for best film: Bat Boy

Christian Kelley: “Bat Boy found itself on each jury member’s ballot and it’s not hard to see why: it’s funny, charming and a terrific homage to Cold War-era genre films.

Between this and River [also directed by Kheaven, whose lead, Hiraku Ando won the Brian Linehan Actors Award], Kheaven is one to watch.”

Liz Janzen: “Proving that a thing is a sum of its parts, all the elements of Bat Boy – from the script and performances to the production design and music score – conspire to create a delicious homage to 1950s creature movies.”

Justin Oakey: “A charming little oddity – this was a great blend of classic genre filmmaking and modern absurdism. Overall a seamless execution of a very inventive take on the Weekly World News story. ”

Director Kheaven Lewandowski said, “I am honoured to receive the Short Filmmakers Award on behalf of my amazing cast and crew. This was a passion project that was made possible by the tireless contribution of everyone involved. Thank you to A&E and the jury for selecting our film.”

Corus Fearless Female Directors Award: Leah Johnston for Some Things Won’t Sleep

Christian: “Leah’s ability to elicit a creeping dread in her short demonstrates the filmmaking skill of a much more seasoned director. Picking her was one of the easiest tasks that the jury had.”

Liz: “Leah Johnston’s assured direction in Some Things Won’t Sleep manifests itself in the masterful way she mixes past and present, all the while eliciting superb performances from her cast.”

Justin: “A great filmmaker from out here in the east coast that I have had the honour of screening with. Happy to cast a vote her way.”

Director Leah Johnston said, “I’m truly ecstatic to have been given this award. I’m thankful to Corus and the National Screen Institute for recognizing women who are excelling in this field.

It was an ambitious film to make – a big thank you to my fearless cast and crew for bringing the movie to life.”

Brian Linehan Actors Award: Hiraku Ando for River

Christian: “Hiraku’s performance in River was pitch-perfect. Despite his character’s tragic trajectory, Hiraku plays it with no small dose of courage and urgency.”

Liz: “Hiraku Ando’s nuanced performance is so utterly convincing that I felt at times I was watching a documentary.”

Justin: “River is a beautiful film, and this beautiful film revolves around a moving performance by Hiraku Ando. Subtle and very compelling.”

Hiraku Ando said, “I am very honoured to receive the Brian Linehan Actors Award and I hereby thank Kheaven, Jason, Darryl, Kyle, Reve and Andrew. To [my] fellow actors: ‘… [we’re] ready for much more living’ – Elizabeth Taylor.

All the crew who’ve been involved in the production will be pleased to know about this fantastic news. I believe this will encourage fellow actors, especially Asian-originated ones, to come forward and make a path of their own for their life, since life is all about being proactive, overcoming fear and taking risks.”

Blue Ant Media Documentary Award: Glass Eyes of Locust Bayou

Christian: “Glass Eyes of Locust Bayou is a maddening short in the best way. I didn’t want it to end.”

Liz: “Glass Eyes of Locust Bayou is as unique as the idiosyncratic subject at its heart.”

Justin: “Fascinating, bizarre, honest. It was refreshing that the filmmaker didn’t slip into a condescending tone. This impressive little film deserves all its accolades.”

Director Simon Mercer said, “I am truly honoured to win the Blue Ant Media Documentary Award and am heartened by [the jury’s] support of an oddball Canadian film that aimed to stretch the definition of what a documentary can be.”

About the jury

Christian Kelley is a programmer for the Kingston Canadian Film Festival and Calgary Underground Film Festival, board member at Toronto’s Outdoor Picture Show and has previously worked with Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival. He’s directed a couple things you haven’t seen and has been on the cover of Vogue (Italia) twice.

Liz Janzen has been a champion of short films for 20 years. She has worked in both film and television and now devotes her time to writing.

Justin Oakey is an award-winning filmmaker from Newfoundland raised on hunting, fishing and storytelling. His short atmospheric dramas have brought a unique vision of rural Newfoundland to festivals around the world. His debut feature, Riverhead, premieres in late 2016.

The NSI Online Short Film Festival is made possible through the support of Festival PartnerTelefilm Canada; Supporting Sponsors Entertainment One, Super Channel, Corus Entertainment, Blue Ant Media, The Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation and Breakthrough Entertainment; Award Sponsors A&E Television Networks, The Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation, Corus Entertainment and Blue Ant Media; and Industry Partner the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.

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