The award-winning female-led film continues its festival tour, adding the top prize to its growing critical acclaim.

The 26th annual Slamdance Film Festival grand jury announced Heather Young’s acclaimed debut feature film Murmur as the recipient for the renowned Narrative Feature Grand Jury Prize this past weekend as the festival came to a close. Masterfully created by the award-winning director and producer duo Heather Young and Martha Cooley, the film highlights an enduring story of aging and the human-animal connection – portrayed by it’s cast of Nova Scotian non-professional actors, whose roles are largely inspired by their own lives. The grand jury of the 2020 Slamdance Film Festival celebrated Young’s female-focused film, awarding it with the most prestigious award from their feature competition.

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

Murmur had its World Premiere at TIFF, where it received the FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) award of the Discovery Program at the Toronto International Film Festival. Following this coveted win, Murmur opened the Atlantic International Film Festival, which marked the first time a debut female filmmaker led the Atlantic festival in 30 years, and where the film picked up awards for Best Atlantic Feature, Best Atlantic Director, and Best Atlantic Screenplay.

“We were surprised and delighted to receive the Narrative Feature Grand Jury Prize at Slamdance,” says multiple award-winning filmmaker Heather Young of the win. “The festival was incredibly welcoming and the programmers were clearly passionate about the content they chose. We are grateful to have been recognized among such a strong selection of truly independent cinema.”

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. 

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.