Canada’s hopeful for the Oscars won the Toronto Film Critics Association’s (TFCA) Rogers Best Canadian Film Award on Wednesday [12], accompanied by a C$15,000 cash prize.

Incendies is an adaptation of Wajdi Mouawad’s complex stage play about Quebec siblings who uncover their immigrant mother’s tortured history. It is set for release by eOne in Canada and Sony in the US later this month and has won a raft of awards since premiering in Toronto last September.

The prize means Villeneuve has claimed back-to-back TFCA awards after last year’s triumph with Polytechnique. TFCA president Brian D Johnson told Screen this was a testament to the fact that the Montreal film-maker was “at the top of his game, much like the other Denys,” referring to Arcand, Canada’s only Oscar winner in the foreign film category for The Barbarian Invasions.

Villeneuve was on hand for the awards dinner in Toronto and told Screen that he was “thrilled and honoured.” He said he was compelled to tell stories that scared him, although he was not sure why.

“It is like what you are attracted to, you fear,” Villeneuve said. “When I am very afraid of something, I’m very drawn to discover more. Polytechnique was a horrific nightmare and it’s the same with war in the Middle East. I’m attracted, but you’d have to ask my psychologist why.”

Producer Don McKellar presented the TFCA’s Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist to Toronto film-maker Daniel Cockburn for You Are Here, with a $5,000 cash prize.

Cockburn told Screen that his alien story was a “really small movie with arts council funding, so an award like this is very important.”

The film has no distribution attached but is represented in North America by LA-based Traction Media, noted for its handling of Hard Candy. The film heads to Rotterdam next.

Director Patricia Rozema presented the inaugural 2010 Deluxe Student Film Award to Humber College student David Cadiz for his short film Adventures Of Owen, which carries a value of $3,000 in post-production services from Deluxe Toronto.

CBC broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi presented a TFCA special citation to director Bruce McDonald for a year of exceptional creativity. McDonald directed four films in 2010: This Movie Is Broken, Trigger, Hard Core Logo 2 and the documentary Music From The Big House. As McDonald was shooting in Winnipeg, the award was accepted by his wife and film-maker Dany Chiasson, who served as executive producer on the three features.

“Bruce is honored because it’s recognition chosen by writers and for Bruce that’s the meat of the films,” Chiasson told Screen. “So for him this recognition is very touching.”