OTTAWA, ON, Oct. 19, 2021 /CNW/ - Returning Home, the first feature length documentary from Canadian Geographic Films and Secwépemc director Sean Stiller, has received top recognition at three western Canadian international film festivals — taking home the best Canadian documentary awardfrom three respective juries.
First, in Calgary, the film was awarded Best Canadian Documentary from the Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF). In a video shared online by CIFF, the Director Guild of Canada's Hans Engel announced director Sean Stiller as the winner of this year's award. "The jury selected [ Returning Home] for being a timely film that urges the viewer to reflect on the importance of healing for both people and nature — and effectively shows that one cannot happen without the other," said Engel. Just days later, it was revealed that Returning Home had also won the juried Best Canadian Documentary award from Edmonton International Film Festival, in a surprise announcement at the film's northern premiere on September 30 in Edmonton.
In British Columbia, Returning Home kicked off the Vancouver International Film Festival's high school programming series on the morning of Oct. 1, 2021, with in-person and virtual screenings hosting students from Vancouver and beyond. The film then went on to premiere publicly on October 2 before seeing wider release across festival theatres — including independent screenings in Terrace and Powell River, B.C.
Curtis Woloschuk, VIFF's associate director of programming, announced Stiller's third award win during a video that was shared on the festival's Facebook page. "After one hour of deliberation, we chose Returning Home by Sean Stiller, a powerful community portrait that intersects the impacts of colonization and environmental collapse, as the winner of Best Canadian Documentary." The VIFF jury was moved by the power of the protagonists in Returning Home, and the way in which Stiller cultivated an intergenerational space to share vulnerability, resilience and courage. "The stories of residential school Survivors and the effects of colonialism were seamlessly woven with the story of the salmon struggling to return to the land in a poetic and visually stunning way. This timely film reminds us of the generational trauma caused by Canadian colonization on both the people and the land, while also giving us an intimate portrait into those fighting for justice. We can all learn and be inspired by this film."
Stiller, who currently resides in Toronto but works in both Ontario and his home province of B.C., remains shocked by the outstanding support for the film, which profiled Orange Shirt Society founder Phyllis Jack-Webstad and her family. " Returning Home is my first feature length film and was very much a labour of love. When we found out we were selected for all three festivals, that was exciting enough news on its own. But to learn that we won best Canadian documentary at each was incredibly humbling. It's hard to imagine a better outcome for this film," said Stiller. "My hope for this documentary is that it can amplify and extend the sacred work that Phyllis does — and continues to do — all across this country."
The production of Returning Home was made possible in partnership with the Government of Canada. To arrange an interview with Sean Stiller or Phyllis Jack-Webstad, please reach out to the press contact below.
Returning Home Returning Home profiles Orange Shirt Day founder Phyllis Jack-Webstad and her family's struggle to heal from the multigenerational impact of attending the notorious St. Joseph's Mission Residential School in Secwépemc territory. In an interweaving storyline, amid a global pandemic and the lowest salmon run in Canadian history, the film also explores how a multi-year federal fishing moratorium tears at the very fabric of Secwépemc communities and centuries-old traditions. The documentary is the first feature film from both director Sean Stiller and Canadian Geographic Films.
Canadian Geographic FilmsFor nearly a century, Canadian Geographic has been dedicated to making Canada better known to Canadians and to the world, primarily through its award-winning magazine. As our country undergoes significant changes to its population, climate, environment, economy and culture, Canadian Geographic Films is leading a digital transformation to support a greater understanding of Canada's geography — the diverse human and physical landscape — as well as the changes affecting its people and the environment. Returning Home is a true testament to this, as Canadian Geographic Films' first feature documentary. The production company has a number of other projects currently in development, with documentaries and television series slated for release in 2022.
SOURCE Royal Canadian Geographical Society