Deco Dawson Wins Big at TIFF 2012
For the second time in his career, Winnipeg filmmaker Deco Dawson has won the Best Canadian Short award at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival.
Dawson’s film Keep A Modest Head documents the memories of the last official surviving member of the French surrealists, Jean Benoît. “Mixing interviews recorded in Benoît’s Parisian studio with Surrealist-inspired re-enactments, Dawson deconstructs documentary conventions to eulogize a formidable artist,” writes TIFF programmer Alex Rogalski.
The awards were handed out at the annual brunch gala on the final Sunday of TIFF. The Best Canadian Short award was a pleasant suprise for the Winnipeg filmmaker who had already returned home. The award comes with bragging rights and a $10,000 cash prize.
Below are reflections from Deco on his time at TIFF 2012, his surprise win, and his picks from the festival.
Deco Dawson on TIFF 2012 via email
Sept. 16th, 2012
I was completely surprised by this award. I was already back home, ready to move on, putting this film of eight years in the works behind me. It was already a gratifying feeling to present the film at TIFF and really the moment to officially launch it into the world. Being such a challenging film, I never could have expected the jury to side with me, but the jury did exactly that. They praised the film for being completely original and unlike any other in the festival. Having initially won the same prize back in 2001, it is a great feeling to have one’s recent work validated in a similar way to my films of a decade ago.
I received the best reviews of my life for this film during TIFF. That in itself was really rewarding, but at the same time I believe the film to be rather polarizing. If you can get “behind it” there is much to revel in, but if you can’t get on board with the aesthetic it is difficult to embrace the narrative wholly.
I am a big fan of John Cassavettes yet have a stoic resistance to the work of his son Nick. However, almost on a self inflicted dare, I went to see Nick’s new film Yellow and was elated with the presentation. It is chaotic, unpretentious and very surreal at parts, a total treat and a complete unexpected gem of the festival. Surely it will forever be his least commercially successful film, but if anything he proved to be cut from the same cloth as a great American Cinematic Hero on this one.
But the greatest highlight of all was watching Bill Murray pass right in front of me at the Locarno party at the Bovine Sex Club.