The Toronto Film Critics Association will this year inaugurate the first Rogers Best Canadian Film Award, a C$10,000 ($8,000) prize to be presented to the year’s best Canadian feature as judged by the group. The prize will presented at the 11th annual TFCA dinner on January 6, 2009.

‘The TFCA wants to bring together all sides of the industry to celebrate the best films of the year, including the finest Canadian work,’ said TFCA president Brian D. Johnson, film writer for the Canadian weekly newsmagazine Maclean’s. ‘Given Toronto’s stature as a film capital, the pre-eminence of TIFF, and the vitality of film criticism in this city, it’s only fitting to have an awards dinner on a par with events held by critics’ groups in New York and Los Angeles. ‘

Canadian media company Rogers Communications is sponsoring the prize. In a statement, Rogers vice-chairman Phil Lind said, ‘Rogers, through our businesses and production financing programs, has a long history of supporting Canadian film. This prize is a wonderful way to recognize our country’s creative talent.’

The full slate of 2008 TFCA award winners will be announced on Dec. 17, 2008, along with three finalists for the new prize. The ultimate winner will be announced at the January 6 dinner by filmmaker Sarah Polley, last year’s TFCA winner for Best Canadian Film, who will present the prize. TFCA alumnus Cameron Bailey, co-director of the Toronto International Film Festival, will be master of ceremonies.

This year the TFCA adjusted the terms of eligibility to take into account the sometimes delayed release in Canada of Oscar-qualifying films; under previous rules, a title such as There Will Be Blood - released in Canada in January 2008 - would not have qualified for the 2007 TFCA awards. TFCA contenders now include Oscar-qualifying films released in Canada by the end of February 2009.