TFCA launches new Peter Wintonick doc fund

The new fund, currently valued at $7,000, will be presented annually by the Toronto Film Critics Association.
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It was a big night for documentary filmmakers at last night’s Toronto Film Critics Association awards ceremony, as a doc took him the Best Canadian Film prize for the second year in a row, and a new fund to support doc-makers announced.

Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky’s Watermark took home the $100,000 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award and, prior to that, the late doc maker Peter Wintonick was honoured with a new fund in his name.

Wintonick’s daughter, Mira Burt-Wintonick, was named the first recipient of the annual fund, which was announced as a $5,000 fund but was quickly upped to $7,000 when director Bruce McDonald pledged an additional $1,000 in his introductory remarks and another unknown donor kicked in a further $1,000.

“This is a bittersweet moment for me,” Burt-Wintonick said in accepting the honour, lamenting that if her famously charismatic father were to have joined her for the evening, he would have been working the room and making people “pee their pants with some joke.”

Burt-Wintonick said she plans to use the funding to finish a longstanding project of her father’s, a search for a real/metaphorical utopia, a topic she said he obsessed over.

Wintonick had, over the course of years, already logged hundreds of hours of footage looking at real places named Utopia, or examining people’s ideas of utopia. It’s work Burt-Wintonick said she plans to continue.

“I will do my best to make it something worthy of him,” she said.

Noting that the fund is still a “work in progress” due to the unexpected and recent nature of Wintonick’s passing, TFCA president Brian D. Johnson confirmed that it will be awarded annually to an emerging documentary filmmaker.

The TFCA is also seeking donations and a sponsor in order to increase the purse. Recipients are currently selected by the TFCA.

“We were very encouraged by the response to the fund at last night’s gala, at which two donors boosted the inaugural prize from $5,000 to $7,000. So we have high hopes this will become a going concern,” Johnson said.