TORONTO — Today TIFF announced Boris Rodriguez as the recipient of this year’s TIFF–CBC Films Screenwriter Award for his project Zoila and Andy. As part of the award, he will receive a $15,000 grant, along with support from a script consultant and access to the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival and TIFF Industry Conference. Rodriguez will be celebrated in person this evening at the TIFF–CBC Films: Celebrating Screenwriters Cocktail event, 5:30pm EST at TIFF Bell Lightbox, along with some of the previously announced 2022 Writers’ Studio cohort.
The TIFF–CBC Films Screenwriter Award jury has honoured Rodriguez’s Zoila and Andy for its epic, historical tale that resonates as both a love story and a timely contemplation on activism, democracy, communism, and ideology in a way that is at once deeply specific and hugely universal.
“Receiving the TIFF–CBC Films Screenwriter Award is both humbling and surprising given the caliber of talent that not only applies [to the award] but is considered,” says Rodriguez. “It’s also the exact kind of support that will no doubt prove invaluable in bringing our story to the screen in Canada and to audiences around the world.”
Rodriguez is an internationally acclaimed filmmaker. His first film, Beso Nocturno (Night Kiss), premiered at the 2000 Toronto International Film Festival in the Discovery section, and was later selected for a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His feature debut, Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal (2012), was selected for film festivals including Tribeca and Karlovy Vary and won the Méliès d’Argent award for best European fantasy feature at the Leeds International Film Festival. On the heels of Eddie’s success, Rodriguez was selected to participate in NBCUniversal’s Emerging Directors Program, where he was coached to direct episodes for their scripted series on SyFy and USA. Rodriguez is currently developing several projects, including the features Covet, Blood Avocados and Butterflies, and Zoila and Andy.
Now in its fifth consecutive year, the TIFF–CBC Films Screenwriter Award was created to support Canada’s diverse screenwriting talent and to fund the development of high-quality productions that reflect, represent, and reframe diverse perspectives through character-driven stories at the core of the Canadian experience. The Award is open to experienced screenwriters who are women and/or who belong to an equity-seeking group, and/or who identify as having a disability.
This year’s winner was chosen by a jury of screen-industry professionals: Gosia Kamela, Head of CBC Films; Larisa Gutmanis, screenwriter and producer of the International Financing Forum for Ontario Creates; Jennifer Weiss, veteran Canadian producer; and Jane Kim, TIFF Industry Programming Producer.
All screenplay applications were read and rated anonymously, without readers knowing the names of the screenwriters. Projects were considered based on the quality of the script; the originality of the idea, story structure, dialogue, and characters; and likely audience appeal and achievability.