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Scarborough-set Brother, To Kill a Tiger documentary, and Vancouver’s Anthony Shim capture Canadian Screen Awards

Lamar Johnson, Aaron Pierre
Lamar Johnson and Aaron Pierre won Canadian Screen Awards for performances in Clement Virgo's Brother, Photo © Brother Movie Inc.

A film inspired by Simon Fraser University English professor David Chariandy‘s second novel was a big winner the Canadian Screen Awards. Clement Virgo co-produced, directed, and wrote the adapted screenplay for Brother, which captured a record 12 prizes in film categories.

Chariandy’s book won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize in 2017. Set in Scarborough, Brother explores the lives of siblings Michael and Francis. The sons of Caribbean immigrants navigate challenges relating to masculinity and race in the 1990s amid the rise of Toronto’s hip-hop culture.

During Canadian Screen Week, which ended on Sunday (April 16), the film won in the best motion picture category. In addition, Virgo won for achievement in direction and adapted screenplay.

Brother‘s director was born in Jamaica and immigrated to Canada at the age of 11. He grew up in Toronto and made his first feature film, Rude, in 1995. Virgo is perhaps best know for adapting Lawrence Hill’s novel, The Book of Negroes, into a six-part CBC miniseries.

Watch the trailer for Brother.

Meanwhile, Lamar Johnson, who played Michael in Brother, won for performance in a leading role. Co-star Aaron Pierre, who played Francis, took home the Canadian Screen Award for performance in a supporting role.

In addition, the film was honoured with Canadian Screen Awards for art direction, casting, costume design, hair, music–original score, sound editing, and sound mixing.

Anthony Shim by Lawrence Cortez cropped
Anthony Shim’s Riceboy Sleeps received six nominations for Canadian Screen Awards. Photo by Lawrence Cortez (@lawrencejcortez).

Shim’s screenplay wins Canadian Screen Award

Vancouver actor, writer, and director Anthony Shim isn’t go home empty-handed, either. He won a Canadian Screen Award for original screenplay for Riceboy Sleeps.

His film about an immigrant Korean single mom and her son was nominated for six Canadian Screen Awards, including best motion picture. He told Pancouver that the feature was inspired by his own upbringing on Vancouver Island and in Coquitlam.

In March, the Shim-directed Riceboy Sleeps won the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award from the Toronto Film Critics Association. This came with a $100,000 cheque.

Another B.C. feature, Until Branches Bend, was nominated in two categories. Writer-director Sophie Jarvis was up for original screenplay, which went to Shim. And Landon Bootsma, Dexter Davey, Ashley Hampton, Milton Muller, and Dmitry Vinnik were nominated for achievement in visual effects.

To Kill a Tiger
Ranjit is a farmer in rural India who seeks justice for his daughter in To Kill a Tiger.

To Kill a Tiger wins three awards

Meanwhile, To Kill a Tiger won three Canadian Screen Awards, including the Ted Rogers Best Feature Length Documentary prize. The Nisha Pahuja-directed film also won for best editing and best original music in a feature documentary.

Earlier this year, Pahuja revealed that it took more than three-and-a-half years to film To Kill a Tiger, which was co-produced by the National Film Board. It focuses on a poor Indian family’s struggle for justice in the rural state of Jharkhand. This comes after the gang rape of the parents’ 13-year-old daughter after a wedding party.

The Vancouver-based Handle With Care: The Legend of the Notic Streetball Crew was up against To Kill a Tiger for best feature length documentary and best editing in a feature length documentary. It tells the story of streetball whiz kids who dazzled fans at Kits Beach and other locations.

Unlike the Juno Awards honouring musicians, no television network aired the Canadian Screen Awards live. Instead, CBC broadcast a one-hour taped segment that raised hackles in some quarters for not shining a spotlight on Canadian moviemakers.

The full list of nominees and winners is available at

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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Toronto Spark editor Charlie Smith has worked as a journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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