Xavier Dolan wins the TFCA’s new Jay Scott Prize

Xavier Dolan, director and star of "J’ai tué ma mère"

It’s not every day that I get to quote myself, but as President of the Toronto Film Critics Association, I want to pass on the news that the TFCA has voted to award its inaugural Jay Scott Prize for emerging talent to Quebec’s Xavier Dolan, the wunderkind writer, director, producer and star of J’ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother).  The prize, which comes with a $5,000 cheque, is named for the legendary Globe and Mail writer who became Canada’s most influential film critic before his death in 1993. Rather than re-write a press release that I helped craft earlier today, I’ll reproduce it the gist of here, complete with my own quote:

“I couldn’t imagine a more worthy candidate to receive the inaugural Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist,” said TFCA President Brian D. Johnson. “Xavier Dolan did not just emerge; he burst onto the world stage in Cannes at the age of 20, dazzling us with a daring first feature that he wrote, produced, directed and starred in. There’s no doubt that Jay Scott – who championed the deeply personal work of  Québec filmmakers like Jean-Claude Lauzon would have appreciated the singular passion, flamboyant style and raw nerve of Xavier Dolan.”

J’ai tué ma mère, which has charmed Québec audiences to the tune of $975,000 at the box office (2 screens in Montreal) to date, and is Canada’s submission for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nomination, is Dolan’s first film as director after many credits as an actor in television and film.  Xavier Dolan was born in Montréal in 1989 and first appeared on screen at the age of four in a series of commercials for a chain of pharmacies that launched his career.

As well as appearing in popular Québec television series such as Miséricorde, Omertà II and L’or, Dolan was also cast in feature films such as J’en suis (Claude Fournier), Le marchand de sable (Nadine Fournel) and La forteresse suspendue (Roger Cantin).  Other acting credits include the 2006 short film Miroirs d’été (Etienne Desrosiers) and French filmmaker Pascal Laugier’s controversial feature Martyrs as well as Micheline Lanctôt’s Suzie.

The Jay Scott Prize will be presented to Dolan by Oscar-nominated director Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) at the TFCA gala dinner, to be held January 12 at Toronto’s Nota Bene restaurant. The dinner will also see the highly anticipated winner of this year’s Rogers Best Canadian Feature Award announced. David Cronenberg, a previous TFCA winner for A History of Violence,  will present the winning filmmaker with a $10,000 cheque.  Previously announced, the three nominees for the Rogers Best Canadian Feature Award are:   The Necessities of Life, directed by Benoît Pilon; Polytechnique, directed by Denis Villeneuve; and Pontypool, directed by Bruce McDonald.

Established in 1997 the Toronto Film Critics Association is comprised of Toronto based journalists and broadcasters who specialize in film criticism and commentary.  All major dailies, weeklies and a variety of other print and electronic outlets are represented.