Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies, Canada’s official entry to the Academy Awards this year, beat out Bruce McDonald’s Trigger and Vincenzo Natali’s Splice to take home the Toronto Film Critics Association’s Rogers Best Canadian Film award for 2010.

The award, worth $15,000, was handed out by actor Jay Baruchel at the TFCA’s annual gala dinner on January 12. Villeneuve also won the award in 2009 for his film about the 1989 “Montreal Massacre”, Polytechnique.

“Winning our top Canadian prize two years in a row is a testament to Denis Villeneuve’s brilliance as a filmmaker and the astounding scale of his creative ambition,” says TFCA President and Maclean’s film critic Brian D. Johnson. “With Incendies, he has bridged Montreal and the Middle East to create a deeply resonant tragedy about family and the uncontainable nature of war.”

Incendies, an adaptation of Wajdi Mouawad’s play, tells the story of Quebec siblings Simon and Jeanne (Maxim Gaudette and Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) who venture to the Middle East where they learn of their recently deceased mother’s disturbing past. The film generated a lot of audience buzz at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival this past September, and has been praised by Canadian and international press. The film opens in Toronto on January 21.

Other awards presented at the event include a special citation award for Toronto-based filmmaker Bruce McDonald, and the Jay Scott Prize for emerging talent, worth $5,000, which went to Toronto’s Daniel Cockburn for his film You Are Here. The inaugural Deluxe Student Film Award was given to Humber College student David Cadiz for his short film Adventures of Owen. The award comes with $3,000 worth of post-production services from Deluxe Toronto.

The rest of the awards, which were announced in December, include Best Picture (The Social Network), Best Animated Film (How to Train Your Dragon), Best Foreign-Language Film (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives), Best Actor (Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network), Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone), Best Supporting Actress (Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit), Best Supporting Actor (Armie Hammer in The Social Network), and Best Screenplay (The Social Network).

The Toronto Film Critics Association is a group of 43 Toronto-based journalists who specialize in film criticism and commentary. Members have sat on critic juries at the Cannes, Venice and Toronto film festivals, and also participate in the International Federation of International Film Critics (FIPRESCI). For a film to be eligible for the 2010 TFCA awards, it had to be released in Canada within the year or has to qualify for the 2010 Oscars and have a release date in Canada no later than the end of February 2011.

brian.mckechnie@citynews.rogers.com