Polaris Music Prize commissions filmmakers for alternative format to gala awards show

Polaris Music Prize commissions filmmakers for alternative format to gala awards show

TORONTO — Big changes are coming to the look of this year’s Polaris Music Prize due to the pandemic.

Organizers of the $50,000 award celebrating the best Canadian album of the year say they’ve commissioned a group of directors to bring to life each of the 10 nominated albums as short films.

The “cinematic event” will be streamed online later this month, in lieu of the Polaris gala, which usually features live performances from most of the nominated artists.

Among the filmmakers who will contribute to this year’s Polaris is Alicia Harris, winner for live action short drama at the 2020 Canadian Screen Awards. She will create a video for Jessie Reyez’s shortlisted album When Love Came to Kill Us.

A visual for Junia-T’s nominated Studio Monk will come to life under the direction of Yassin (Narcy) Alsalman, who took home a trophy at the 2018 Much Music Video Awards for his work on A Tribe Called Red’s video R.E.D.

Other Polaris contenders, including Montreal transgender rapper Backxwash and First Nations indie rockers nehiyawak will work with longtime collaborators on their visual presentations.

The showcase, which will also reveal this year’s Polaris winner, airs Oct. 19 on CBC Gem streaming service, CBC Music’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages, and at CBCMusic.ca/Polaris.

This year’s shortlisted artists also include U.S. Girls, Witch Prophet, Pantayo, and previous Polaris winners Kaytranada, Lido Pimienta and Caribou.

The Polaris Music Prize recognizes the best full-length Canadian album from the previous year based on artistic merit, not on sales or genre. The winner is selected on the night of the broadcast by a jury of music journalists and broadcasters.

Beyond its cash value, the recognition puts the winner’s music in the global spotlight.

Last year Toronto rapper Haviah Mighty won the prize for 13th Floor,becoming the first female rapper to claim the Polaris.

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