How I used my moment: Accepting the Iris Award at WIFTV’s Spotlight Gala

September 13th, 2016

In June, I was the first recipient of Women in Film & Television Vancouver’s Thunderbird Iris Award.

“Sabrina writes with a great sense of humour, and has interviewed many of the movers and shakers of the industry in her [Reel People] columns, including many women working in the industry,” the organization wrote in its press release. “Sabrina’s dedication and support of local and women filmmakers has been invaluable over the years.”

To say I was honoured to receive this award would be an understatement, and, initially at least, inaccurate. When I first found out about it, I was terrified. Among the 10 other award recipients for 2016 was Rachel Talalay, director of Tank Girl and On The Farm and Doctor Who and someone I’ve long admired for her fire and talent and feminism. How could we even be standing on the same stage? I felt like a fraud. Impostor Syndrome began to set in, followed by the relief of deep, sweet gratitude, and, finally, a keen sense of responsibility that I needed to really live up to this honour. Reel People powers, activate!

On June 20, we received our awards in a soul-stirring awards ceremony, during which speeches were made, laughs were had, and tears were shed. You can (and should) read and watch Rachel’s incredible speech here.

Here’s an iPhone video of my own speech:

WIFTV Spotlight Awards speech

And here’s the text:

“This room is filled with storytellers – and I write stories about storytellers. Since I began writing for the Westender in 2012, you have taught me much about passion and what it means to be accountable to our muses and our experiences. Every interview I do begins with the what and how of specific films and careers but inevitably we end up talking about the why – and the why you tell the stories that you choose to tell almost always explores some aspect of what it means to be a human being on this fraught Earth.

“My search for the story behind the screen story has led to articles about pregnancy loss, depression, poverty, sexism, racism, ageism, grief, what it means to be an outsider and a newcomer, and all manners of love. I’ve come to understand that the space between a storyteller and the stories they tell is minute. You are masterful storytellers, and I am honoured to share your stories with my readers.

“From my heart, I thank Women in Film and TV Vancouver and Thunderbird for this award. What a gift to share this moment with you, and to be in the company of visionary storytellers.

“I give thanks to my family: my amazing daughter Mariana (who inspires me with her curiosity, creativity, and kind heart), my husband Paul, my mother Dale, my father Anil, my parents-in-law Peter and Lina, my dear friends Peter and Philip and Maja and Jeff and Robin, all of whom are present tonight and are inextricably part of my journey.

“I am grateful to my editor at the Westender, Rob Mangelsdorf, who gives me the space in which to tell your stories, and Martha Perkins, who encouraged my passion for film and television journalism in the first place. I thank the many women who have trusted me with their stories, powerhouses all: Amanda Tapping, Nicole Oliver, Anne Marie DeLuise, Enid Raye Adams, Terri Tatchell, Sarah Deakins, Sonja Bennett, Ali Liebert, Chelah Horsdal, Gabrielle Rose: the list goes on and on.

“I dedicate this award to my friend Darren Shahlavi, who died tragically in 2015. Darren showed me what kind of grit is required to thrive in this industry. My column is called “Reel People,” and he was the original “reel person” in my life.

“We are living through an era of anxiety and profound sorrow and upheaval. In the midst of the turbulence and turmoil, it is storytellers who are calling truth to power. It is storytellers who inspire real change. The images we see on our screens are vastly important in this anxious time, and I’ve come to appreciate the epic journey that most of you must endure in order to bring your stories from concept to the screen. I salute you. Thank you for trusting me with your stories.”

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