DEBUT FEATURE FILMMAKER, HEATHER YOUNG, TAKES FIPRESCI AWARD (Discovery Program, TIFF)

Following sold out premiere screenings at TIFF, the MURMUR director collects the coveted FIPRESCI award for the Discovery Program.

- Announced by TIFF and the jury of the 2019 FIPRESCI (THE PRIZE OF THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF FILM CRITICS) on September 12, 2019, award-winning filmmaker Heather Young was named the recipient of the coveted 2019 FIPRESCI award of the Discovery Program at the 43rd annual Toronto International Film Festival for her debut feature title, Murmur. Starring a cast of Nova Scotian non-professional actors, many of whom are playing themselves in the film, Heather Young and producer Martha Cooley skillfully craft a documentary-narrative hybrid feature that captures an enduring story of aging and the human-animal connection. Murmur had its World Premiere at TIFF, and will be the Opening Gala film at FIN: Atlantic International Film Festival on the evening of September 12, the first time in 30 years a first-time feature filmmaker had led the Atlantic festival.

“Winning the FIPRESCI Prize for the Discovery Program at TIFF is a wonderful surprise and a true honour,” says filmmaker Heather Young. “This film was made with a small budget and a small crew in Nova Scotia and I am so proud that everyone’s hard work has led us to this very special recognition.”

Murmur follows Donna, a sixty-something year-old who is scheduled to perform community service in an animal rescue shelter following a DUI charge. Over time Donna (portrayed by Nova Scotia native and first-time actor, Shan MacDonald) begins to relate to the abandoned animals that surround her and she forms a particular bond with a senior dog who she brings home to prevent from being euthanized. Donna begins collecting other animals from the shelter and buying them online, until her small apartment is over-run and her unchecked compulsion for connection ultimately causes her home and life to fall into further disarray. 

“It is important to me to tell the stories of older women and allow them to be complex, flawed and fully realized characters, the likes of which are rarely depicted in cinema,” says award-winning filmmaker Heather Young of Murmur. “Donna is a difficult character, but hopefully one that will resonate. Her loneliness and addictive nature cause her to act in ways that are at times counterintuitive and destructive but ultimately she is looking for connection — and that is something that we can all relate to.” 

Following it’s TIFF and FIN screenings Murmur continues its festival tour with stops at VIFF (Vancouver International Film Festival), CIFF (Calgary International Film Festival), and FNC (Montreal Festival du Nouveau Cinema.)Murmur was funded with the support of Telefilm Canada and the Talent Fund, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Nova Scotia Film & Television Production Incentive Fund and Arts Nova Scotia.
The FIPRESCI jury is comprised of Jury President Rita di Santo (UK), Frédéric Jaeger (Germany), Liam Lacey (Canada), Ruben Peralta Rigaud (Dominican Republic), Müge Turan (Turkey), and Claire Valade (Canada).

About Heather Young | DIRECTOR
Heather Young is a filmmaker originally from New Brunswick now living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. After graduating from the University of New Brunswick and NSCAD University she made several short films. FISH (2016) played at festivals all over the world including Palm Springs Shortfest, the Vancouver International Film Festival, Vienna Independent Shorts and TIFF Canada’s Top Ten Festival. FISH was also a Vimeo Staff Pick and won Best Short Film in the NSI Online Short Film Festival. Her latest short MILK (2017) had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (where she also participated in the TIFF Talent Lab), won Best Short Film (Canada) at Festival du nouveau cinema, and played TIFF Canada’s Top Ten, Aspen Shortsfest, the Maryland Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, the London Short Film Festival, and many others. MURMUR is her first feature.

About Martha Cooley | PRODUCER
Martha Cooley is a filmmaker and cultural worker of settler ancestry based in Halifax, Nova Scotia (Mi’kma’ki). She is a recipient of the 2011 Canadian Progress Club Women of Excellence Award in the Arts and Culture Division for her work developing training and outreach programs in filmmaking. Martha is currently the Executive Director of the Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative, where she manages the operations of a vibrant, nonprofit resource centre for independent filmmakers. MURMUR is her first feature as a producer. 

Photo credit: Shot by Luis Mora in the TIFF x Samsung Studio, courtesy of the Toronto International Film Festival (2019)

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