Toronto-native and first-time feature film director Daniel Warth’s Dim the Fluorescents has won the Sparky Award – the Grand Jury Prize for Narrative Feature at the 23rd Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, UT.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said an elated Warth after collecting his prize last night in Park City. “This festival centers around independent and innovative filmmaking, so it’s a great honour to have been selected to screen, and now to have won this top award with a film I wanted to make on my own terms, is truly outstanding.”
Dim The Fluorescents was only one of 11 feature films chosen from around the world.
“It’s empathetic, weird and insanely funny,” said the Slamdance jurors. “This film delivers its crazy script with guts and panache. It’s a delight — beautifully executed and smart as a whip.”
Dim the Fluorescents tells the story of struggling actor Audrey (Claire Armstrong) and aspiring playwright Lillian (Naomi Skwarna), who pour all of their creative energy into the only paying work they can find: corporate role-playing demonstrations. When they book the biggest gig of their careers at a hotel conference, work commences on their most ambitious production to date, and the ensuing tensions threaten to derail both the production and their friendship.
As wryly funny as it is unexpectedly poignant, Dim the Fluorescents is a one-of-a-kind portrait of the artistic life and process in the unlikeliest of settings. A labour of love painstakingly constructed over the course of four years, the film was written by Daniel Warth and Miles Barstead – who also composed the score – and produced by Josh Clavir and Julie Baldassi.
“Independent film is made beautiful not by those individual artists that form celebrity culture but by creative collaboration,” said Peter Baxter, Slamdance co-founder and president. “At Slamdance this year we’ve experienced an entire program of beautiful independent film and the promise of great emerging artists continuing the legacy of what we set out to do. With our awards we honor several filmmakers yet we know and must acknowledge Slamdance has just been made stronger by every one of them who has taken part.”
The film’s cast features an assemblage of great Toronto performers, including Dora Mavor Moore Award-winning actor Claire Armstrong (Storefront Theatre’s After Miss Julie), Naomi Skwarna (Suburban Beast’s All Our Happy Days Are Stupid), Brendan Hobin (Diamond Tongues), Clare McConnell (of Second City Toronto’s house company), Todd Graham (featured performer at Just For Laughs 42) and newcomer Andreana Callegarini-Gradzik.