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Winner announced for Gimli Film Festival’s 2020 RBC $10,000 Emerging Filmmaker Pitch Competition

On Screen Manitoba, RBC and the Gimli Film Festival are pleased to announce that Joanne Roberts was selected as the winner of the 9th annual RBC $10,000 Emerging Filmmaker Pitch Competition at the 2020 Gimli Film Festival.

 During the jury deliberation, the live streamed event featured the premiere of First Session by Matthew van Ginkel, the 2019 winner of the RBC Emerging Filmmaker Pitch. The short film follows a protagonist struggling with mental illness and his choice to confront his demons through therapy. 

This year’s finalists had three minutes to pitch their short film ideas to a jury of industry professionals, which was live streamed to a public audience. Following each pitch, the Jury had five minutes to ask questions. Upon completion of the pitches, the Jury deliberated and selected a winner.

Joanne was awarded $10,000 in production funds through the RBC Emerging Artists Project, a mentorship with industry professionals from the National Screen Institute – Canada, a one-year membership with On Screen Manitoba, a $5,000 gift certificate courtesy of William F. White International and a premiere screening of Anak at next year’s Gimli Film Festival.

The film, Anak, follows the story of Mia. She sits in a session with her therapist Jane and discusses the relationship she has with her mother, who has just moved in with her under the false pretense that she would also go to therapy. Having grownup with an unspoken set of rules that shaped their relationship, Mia recounts key moments of her life to Jane as her mother continuously distracts her through messages on her phone.

“I’m so grateful that I get a chance to make this film.” said winner Joanne Roberts. “It means a lot to me and I know it will mean a lot to people who are struggling with this issue. I can’t wait to shed light on this unspoken territory and break barriers in film.”

“The finalists of this year’s competition were impressive, presenting their film ideas dynamically, and their storytelling passion came through loud and clear to this year’s virtual audience. We’re so proud of the resilience they’ve shown in pivoting to this year’s format,” shared Aaron Martyniw, RBC Vice President Commercial Financial Services. “We’re thrilled to congratulate Joanne Roberts on a successful pitch and RBC is excited to help them bring their creative vision to life.”

“Gimli Film Festival is proud that – with our partners – we have successfully moved this year’s Pitch Competition online. We need now more than ever to maintain these valuable experiences for our emerging filmmakers in Manitoba. Thank you to all the finalists who adapted and delivered such exciting and cinematic pitches,” says Aaron Zeghers, Gimli Film Festival Director. “Congratulations to our winner Joanne RobertsIt always feels good to put resources into an artist’s hands, and we can’t wait to watch your screening at the 2021 Gimli Film Festival.”

“The dynamic talent at this year’s pitch competition speaks to the creativity and versatility of Manitoba’s emerging filmmakers, who have adapted quickly to an online environment,” said Nicole Matiation, Executive Director of On Screen Manitoba. “On Screen Manitoba looks forward to working with each and every participant as they advance their careers in the media production industry.” 

Thank you to all 24 emerging Manitoban filmmakers who submitted and congratulations to the five finalists who pitched their story ideas today:

2020 Finalists:

  • BLAKE VERMETTE – Standing Still
  • CHELSEY MARK – The Callback
  • RIVA BILLOWS and RYAN STEEL – Summer, 2017

New this year was an Audience Choice Award, which went to Quon Luong and Erin Hembrador for their project titled Roadie.

On Screen Manitoba and the Gimli Film Festival wish to thank RBC, the National Screen Institute – Canada and William F. White International for the generous prizes they provided for the winner.

We also wish to thank our jurors: Robin Summerfield, Joy Loewen, and Holly Moore. Special thanks to the master of ceremonies Nicole Matiation, Executive Director, On Screen Manitoba.



The RBC Emerging Artists Project helps artists bridge the gap from emerging to established, and supports organizations that provide the best opportunity to advance their career trajectory. RBC supports arts organizations and artists in a range of genres including visual art, music, theatre, performance, literature and film.


The Gimli Film Festival is the largest film festival in Manitoba. Over the past 18 years, our audience, sponsors and partners have supported and shaped the festival into what it is today. We showcase fiction feature films, documentaries and short films from Manitoba, Canada and the world.

 On Screen Manitoba is a provincial industry association. It leads the development of a dynamic media production industry that is recognized for its world-class creative and technical talent, an industry that employs some 2000 Manitobans and has contributed over $1.2 billion to the Manitoba economy over the past ten years.

For more information please contact:

Amanda Emms
Communication Manager
Gimli Film Festival

Cali Ramsey
Operations Manager
On Screen Manitoba