The winner of the 20th Annual Claude Jutra Award has been announced. The 2013 Claude Jutra Award is “announced in advance of the GENIE Award ceremony [by the] Academy of Canadian Film and Television in recognition of the year’s best feature film by a first-time director.”
The winner of the 20th Annual Claude Jutra Award:
Jason Buxton – Blackbird
The official press release on the win:
The 2013 Claude Jutra Award, sponsored by Telefilm Canada, goes to Nova Scotia filmmaker Jason Buxton for his debut feature film, Blackbird, it was announced today by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.
“The Academy is honoured to present filmmaker Jason Buxton with the Claude Jutra Award for Blackbird which is a cutting edge and socially poignant debut film,” says Richard Speer, Academy’s Quebec Chair.
Blackbird is a film that explores the power, and danger, of social media and cyber-bullying.
“I am absolutely thrilled with this honour. To be recognized by my peers for excellence in filmmaking is deeply meaningful, and looking back at the caliber of directors honoured over the past twenty years of the Award’s history is both humbling and reassuring,” said Jason Buxton.
The Claude Jutra Award honours outstanding achievement by a first-time feature filmmaker and was established in 1993 in honour of the late Quebec director Claude Jutra, best known for Canadian classic Mon Oncle Antoine.
In addition to winning the Claude Jutra Award, Blackbird is in the running for two Canadian Screen Awards: Best Original Screenplay for Buxton and Achievement in Editing for Kimberlee McTaggart. The film’s producers include Marc Almon, David Miller and Buxton, with distribution by A71 Entertainment.
Blackbird highlights the story of a troubled teen, Sean Randall (Connor Jessup), who is falsely accused of planning a Columbine shooting scenario. An unlikely bond between Sean (Jessup) and a preppy teenage girl, Deanna Roy (Alexia Fast) results in a violent confrontation. His only hope is to overcome his dark image, and prove his innocence to Deanna and to his community.
Blackbird had its world premiere at TIFF, where it earned the SKYY Vodka Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film. It went on to shine at events across Canada, including the Vancouver International Film Festival (Best Canadian Feature) and the Atlantic Film Festival (Best Atlantic Feature, Best Atlantic Director and Best Atlantic Screenwriter).
To date, Blackbird has made some significant progress internationally, including a key sale to France. Films Boutique is handling international sales.
Born in Farmborough, England, Buxton studied film production at Simon Fraser University and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Prior to making films, Buxton worked behind-the-scenes as a camera assistant, where he learned the craft observing many established filmmakers at work, including James Cameron on Titanic and Lasse Hallstrom on The Shipping News.