Halifax filmmaker Young’s Murmur awarded top prize at Slamdance Film Festival | Local-Lifestyles | Lifestyles

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Heather Young’s Dartmouth-shot film Murmur has won the Slamdance Film Festival’s narrative feature grand jury prize.

The prestigious award from the Park City, Utah event is a major honour for the film and its director, who previously earned best Atlantic feature, director and screenwriting at the 2019 FIN

Atlantic International Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival’s Fipresci Discovery Prize.

Murmur stars first-time actor Shan McDonald as an older woman who begins compulsively adopting animals while performing community service duties at an animal shelter. As Young’s first feature-length project, it follows thematically in the footsteps of her acclaimed short films Milk, Fish and Howard and Jean, examining how people cope with isolation and their relationship with other living creatures.

Slamdance’s feature competition is meant to showcase the work of first-time directors working with budgets under $1 million, who don’t have a distribution deal in the U.S. Founded in 1995, the event has been a major early stepping stone for renowned filmmakers like Christopher Nolan, Lynn Shelton and Lena Dunham.

“The Grand Jury Award for Narrative Feature goes to Murmur, the quietly devastating debut feature from Canadian filmmaker Heather Young,” read the Slamdance jury statement. 

“This richly detailed and deeply humane drama offers an insightful and sympathetic portrait of a lonely woman — affectingly portrayed by newcomer Shan McDonald — who goes to self-destructive extremes while attempting to fill the gaping void in her life.”

Honorable Mention and the audience award for narrative feature went to Merawi Gerima’s Washington, D.C.-shot Residue, about a filmmaker returning to his former neighbourhood and finding it irrevocably changed.


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