Part documentary, part artistry, the film, “Watermark” — a collaboration between filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal and famed photographer Edward Burtynsky — has been awarded the Toronto Film Critics Association’s top prize. The critics group named the film, which premiered at September’s Toronto International Film Festival, the latest winner of the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award at a gala in downtown Toronto Tuesday evening.
Lending research and image to one of the world’s most prized and endangered resources, water, the film also frames Burtynsky’s practice. The artist — who fairly towers over Canada’s photographic community, assuming positions on most major boards and juries — moves, in this film, from the helicopter to his studio, and from the moving image to the still, producing an art book from the very subject of this film. This duality has an aggrandizing effect on Burtynsky’s practice, while producing an interesting to-scale effect for his elemental subject.
Following the TFCA’s award to Sarah Polley last year, for “Stories We Tell,” this marks the second year in a row the association has voted to give its top Canadian prize to a documentary. TFCA president Brian D. Johnson said in a statement, “Canada pioneered the doc genre, and ‘Watermark’ shows we’re still reinventing it.”
Watch a trailer for “Watermark”:
— Sky Goodden, ARTINFO Canada (@ARTINFOCanada)
(Image credit: China’s massive Xiaolangdi Dam #1 in Henan Province. Edward Burtynsky/Mongrel Media.)