Movies: ‘Islands’ wins ACTRA Best Performance Award

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Rogelio Balagtas and Sheila Lotuaco best performers

Charmaine Y. Rodriguez

Filipino-Canadian actors were picked as the best performers by the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) in the Gimli International Film Festival (GIFF), Manitoba’s premier film festival and the largest rural film festival in all of Canada.

Rogelio Balagtas and Sheila Lotuaco were ACTRA’S  Best Performance Awardees for their roles in Islands, a coming-of-middle-age film that follows a timid Filipino immigrant struggling with the care of an elderly parent while managing his first experience with love, according to the Toronto International Film Festival website.

Both actors are from Winnipeg.

Islands is the debut feature from Filipino-Canadian filmmaker Martin Edralin and it is nominated in three categories at the 2022 Canadian Screen Awards next month.

Meanwhile, ACTRA is the national union of over 28,000 professional performers working in English-language recorded media in Canada, including TV, film, radio and digital media.

The group chose the two actors among the exemplary performances that got nominations in GIFF.

Since 2001, GIFF has welcomed thousands to the shores of Lake Winnipeg for its various film screenings of local, national, and international feature films, documentaries, short films, and media art. The festival’s premier event, the Beach Screenings, which take place every night of the five-day festival, have drawn people from all over the world to take in one of Manitoba’s most unique summer experiences, the group’s press release reads.

This year, GIFF also presented filmmakers Charlene Moore and Zaynê Akyol with two brand new awards.

Both the Winnipeg Indigenous Filmmaker Collective (WIFC) Screening Award and the New Voices Award are sponsored by Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) Access Canada and recognize film excellence in underrepresented communities.

“We are so thrilled to be a supporter of Gimli International Film Festival. GIFF is on the forefront of identifying and elevating untapped talent in the prairies,” says WBD Access Canada Executive Director Melanie Nepinak. “We are proud to be part of that and look forward to this year’s talent and beyond,” he also said.

“There is so much creative potential in Manitoba that gets overlooked,” says GIFF Executive Director Alan Wong.

“With the generous support of WBD Access Canada, we can amplify and support filmmakers from underrepresented communities, so they can break down barriers and advance their careers!,” Wong added.

GIFF’s Programming Committee awarded Winnipeg filmmaker, Charlene Moore, with the WIFC Screening Award for her short film Chocolate. The film bested nine other short films as a part of the WIFC Shorts Screening Competition.

The WIFC is composed of a diverse group of fiction and non-fiction artists, representing different lenses and perspectives of storytelling.

Canadian director Zaynê Akyol was awarded the New Voices Award for her film Rojek, a documentary feature consisting of interviews from more than 50 ISIS members and their wives living in Syrian prisons after the fall of the fundamentalist Islamic State, GIFF said.

Rojek was also the winner of the DGC Special Jury Prize – Canadian Feature Documentary, Hot Docs International Documentary Festival.

“What director Zayne Akyol has created in her feature documentary Rojek is an act of great courage as well as artistry. Filming in war torn locations; crossing borders; gaining permissions – all are impossibly difficult,” says GIFF Senior Programmer David Knipe. “Her interviews – which allowed the ISIS members to reveal their internal lives, their beliefs, their motivations, their regret, or lack of regret – show an incredible skill at interview and a willingness to stay open to the humanity of those who engage in horrific acts. This intimacy along with stunning images of current Syria as it attempts to manage the aftermath of these atrocities make this a powerful and important film.”

GIFF said the New Voices Award will be presented to a breakthrough filmmaker from an under-represented community presenting at the festival every year.

Here’s the list of winners:

The Grand Jury Prize – Fire of Love by Dir. Sara Dosa (sponsored by Eagle Vision)

The Alda Award – Dir. Nettie Wild

Best Canadian Feature Film Award – Geographies of Solitude by Dir. Jacquelyn Mills

Indigenous Spirit Award – Ste. Anne by Dir. Rhayne Vermette (sponsored by APTN)

WIFC Screening Award – Chocolate by Charlene Moore (sponsored by WBD Access Canada)

New Voices Award – Rojek by Zaynê Akyol (sponsored by WBD Access Canada)

Jack Clements Award – Eagle Vision Founder and Executive Director Lisa Meeches

Barry Lank Award – Anything Can Happen by Dir. Chase Guthro (sponsored by DOC Manitoba)

ACTRA’s Best Performance Award (1) – Sheila Lotuaco in Islands (sponsored by ACTRA)

ACTRA’s Best Performance Award (2) – Rogelio Balagtas in Islands (sponsored by ACTRA)

Best MB Director Award – Cliff by Dir. Adam Brooks (sponsored by Director’s Guild of Canada)

Best Manitoba Short Film Jury Prize – The Road Back to Cowessess by Sean Parenteau (sponsored by Johnston Group)

Manitoba Short Film Audience Choice Award – Kokum, with Love by Dir. Kim Stadfeld (sponsored by Johnston Group)

RBC $10,000 Emerging Filmmaker Pitch Competition – Rachel Beaulieu and Marie (sponsored by RBC)

Best Canadian Short Film Award – Spirit Emulsion by Dir. Siku Allooloo (sponsored by Black Watch Entertainment)

Best International Short Film Award – Night by Dir. Ahmad Saleh

On the Rise Award – Rhayne Vermette (sponsored by IATSE 856)

Best of Fest Audience Choice Award – Scarborough by Dir. Shasha Nakhai and Dir. Rich Williamson

Betty Schwartz Memorial Volunteer Achievement Award – Jim Quail and Diane Phillips (sponsored by Dave & Diane Johnston)

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