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culture

Rich Aucoin Wins Inaugural Prism Prize for Canadian Music Videos

The video for "Brian Wilson Is A.L.I.V.E." takes the award for the very first Prism Prize.

Music videos, often seen as indispensable for promoting an album, are seldom appreciated as an art form in and of themselves. While the videos are often creative and powerful, containing strange, sometimes psychedelic imagery and complex, unconventional narratives, all constrained by the length of a single song, it’s a form of filmmaking often confined as an auxiliary product to the music itself. The Prism Prize, founded in 2012, seeks to counteract this by becoming the first “national juried award recognizing the artistry of the modern music video in Canada.”

The winner of the first annual prize was announced last night, with the honour going to the video for “Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E.” by Halifax-based indie rock musician Rich Aucoin, off of his Polaris-Prize-long-listed record We’re All Dying To Live. The video, directed by Noah Pink, forms a biography of legendary Beach Boys singer and band leader Brian Wilson. The video includes seminal moments in Wilson’s life and career while also recreating classic Beach Boys album covers. At the video’s climax, Aucoin, who portrays Wilson, lies in a bed in a fat suit surrounded by floating pill bottles. Then he is transformed and renewed, returning to stage to perform as an older man. In addition to the critical acclaim that the award brings, the winning video also earns a $5,000 cash prize.

The Prism Prize also gave out an Audience Award, the winner of which was based on a public poll gathered by media partners Exclaim! and the Grid. This award went to Arcade Fire for their video for “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains).”

The Prism Prize was founded by current Executive Director Louis Calabro, who is the manager of the Canadian Screen Awards for the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. Calabro has also founded Goin’ Steady Productions and the performance series The End of the Internet. The prize’s creative director position is occupied by Neil Haverty, perhaps best known for being a member of the band Bruce Peninsula. Videos released from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012 were eligible for this year’s award, and a winner was chosen by over 90 jurors who went through two rounds of voting. Other nominees for the award included “Two Reasons” by Young Rival, directed by John Smith; “Genesis” by Grimes, directed by Claire Boucher; “Hoshi Neko” by Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, directed by Ruby Kato Attwood and Emily Pelstring; “HYFR” by Drake, directed by X; “The Sticks” by Mother Mother, directed by Chad VanGaalen; “Oblivion” by Grimes, directed by Emily Kai Bock; “Baby’s Got It” by Maylee Todd, directed by Reynard Li; and “Wet Blanket” by METZ, directed by Scott Cudmore.

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