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culture

Emily Kai Bock Wins Prism Prize

Bock's video for Arcade Fire's "Afterlife" wins the grand prize for best Canadian music video.

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Director Emily Kai Bock’s chances of winning the second annual Prism Prize for best Canadian music video were better than those of anyone else in competition for the award. Two of Bock’s videos had made the short list: “Afterlife,” by Arcade Fire, and “Childhood’s End,” by Majical Cloudz. The two are very different—the former explores intimate, domestic spaces and dreamscapes, and the latter contrasts the serene and the apocalyptic. This isn’t the first time Bock’s work has been recognized by the Prism Prize jury either: last year, her video for Grimes’ “Oblivion” also made the short list.

It was Bock’s video for “Afterlife” that took the grand prize at the award reception—held March 23 at the Everleigh in Toronto—winning Bock a $5,000 award. In it, Bock explores the love and tension within a family grabbling with loss, using vivid lighting and colour saturation to differentiate moments of drab, often dim reality from the individuals’ dreams. In their dream spaces, all three family members grapple with a shared loss in very different, profoundly lonely ways, and the results are beautiful.

Several other awards were given out by the Prism Prize this year. The audience choice award, based on votes collected in partnership with Exclaim! Magazine, went to Kheaven Lewandowski for The Belle Game’s “River,” which presents a narrative of excess and, ultimately, redemption. This was also the inaugural year for the Arthur Lipsett Award, established to recognize innovative approaches to music video art—it went to the team of producer/cinematographer Michael Leblanc and writer/director Scott Cudmore for their vast and varied body of work, which includes videos for METZ and Fucked Up. The new Prism Prize special achievement award, presented to “a Canadian music video artist for their artistic achievements and exceptional contribution to music video art on a world stage,” went to Floria Sigismondi (who has collaborated with the likes of David Bowie and Marilyn Manson).

Prism Prize founder and director Louis Calabro says that the award’s jury (which is made up of members of the media, film artists, broadcasters, and other industry professionals) applies a set of objective criteria when assessing the videos, but emphasizes that the assessment process also allows for more subjective voting as well: “If a video makes you feel something, if it makes you excited or uncomfortable in some way,” says Calabro, “then that’s worth nominating.”

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