The Sun at Midnight star 'filled with gratitude' after big win at Whistler film festival

Devery Jacobs (right) was planning to skip the festival's awards ceremony until she heard from the film's director (left). 'She texted me and was like, 'It sounds like they really want you here. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.''

Mohawk-actor Kawennárhere Devery Jacobs wins award for best performance in a Canadian film

Devery Jacobs (right) was planning to skip the awards ceremony at the Whistler International Film Festival, until she heard from Kirsten Carthew, the film's director. 'She texted me and was like, 'It sounds like they really want you here. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.'' (submitted by Kirsten Carthew)

A full-length feature film shot in the N.W.T. is quickly becoming a celebrated selection at some major Canadian film festivals.

Mohawk-actor Kawennárhere Devery Jacobs won the award for best performance in a Canadian film at the Whistler Film Festival on Sunday for her performance in The Sun at Midnight.

"I'm just filled with gratitude," said Jacobs in an interview Tuesday. "I had no expectations going to shoot it in the Northwest Territories. We just went to film this ultra low-budget project, and it was such a passion project that I really hold dear to my heart."

An unexpected honour

Jacobs, best known for her leading role as Aila in the award-winning film Rhymes for Young Ghouls, played a 16-year-old urban princess, who, in the wake of her mother's death, is sent to spend the summer with her Gwich'in grandmother.

While Jacobs described filming The Sun at Midnight as a "huge challenge," in which she "gave [her] all," she never expected to win an award.

"Sunday morning I was like 'nah, I'm not going to go to the [festival's] awards ceremony. I'm just going to go to breakfast and pack my stuff.'"

Shortly after, she got an urgent text from the film's director, writer, and producer, Yellowknife's Kirsten Carthew.

Yellowknife's Kirsten Carthew on the set of The Sun at Midnight, a Canadian film which she directed, wrote, and produced. (submitted)

"She texted me and was like, 'It sounds like they really want you here. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge,' so I had to drop all of my clothes that I was folding, and I literally ran over to the arts centre," said Jacobs with a laugh.

At that point Jacobs was fairly certain she would be getting an award, but added that any lingering doubt was put to rest the moment she arrived.

"When I got there they said they were going to go through honourable mentions… but they accidentally put my name up as the winner on the screen for a good five minutes before they actually presented."

'It's all because of our writer-director'

It's the first acting award Jacobs has received, and she credits Carthew's talent for the win.

"It's all because of our writer-director Kirsten Carthew. Her writing, if you look at the film, there really isn't a lot of plot-driven stories, so it really rests on the shoulders of myself and [co-star] Duane Howard to carry the film, which I haven't' had the opportunity to do in past projects."

Meanwhile, Carthew couldn't be happier.

"I'm a big crybaby so I was pretty emotional," Cathew recalled. "I was trying to videotape her win and my hands were shaking.

"I felt so proud of her, and so happy for her. She's an amazing performer, and she's just such an amazing person to work with, so I'm really glad she had this recognition

"I'm also further proud because it's for best performance, so not just best performance for a female or an actress, but best performance overall, so that's a huge accomplishment."

The Whistler Film Festival marks the film's second screening outside the N.W.T.

The Sun at Midnight also screened at imagineNATIVE in October, complete with a standing ovation from the audience.