Kerry Gamberg has won the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival’s 2017 RBC Michelle Jackson Emerging Filmmaker Award (RBC MJ Award) for her script “Crush.”

As the 2017 recipient of the RBC MJ Award, Gamberg will receive $26 000 in cash and in-kind services to make her winning script into a short film which will premiere at the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival (SJIWFF) next year.

The prestigious RBC MJ Award is administered by SJIWFF in memory of St. John’s filmmaker and mentor Michelle Jackson who passed away in 2008. Past winners of the award include several prolific women filmmakers whose work is being celebrated across the country.

Past winner Jordan Canning’s second feature-length film Suck It Up will open SJIWFF this year after having premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival in British Columbia.

“I didn’t know Michelle personally, but I understand she shared a fierce love of the arts and storytelling. I feel so fortunate to be awarded such an exceptional training opportunity, enabling me to take the next step in my career, from producer to producer/director,” Gamberg said.

Gamberg’s winning script “Crush” is about a twelve-year-old boy who has just moved to a new town. He realizes he has fallen in with the school bullies at the moment he meets his first crush.

“I’ve been working on a couple scripts that are inspired by teenage voices,” Gamberg said, “The MJ Award film is typically six-minutes long, so I took one moment out of the world I’ve been creating with these teenagers and I broke it down into a script for one tiny little film.”

Gamberg says she was inspired to write about the teenage experience today because she noticed that feminism is much “Cooler” now than it was when she was a girl.

 “When I was a teenager feminism felt like this foreign bra-burning movement from the sixties. Now that I’m in my thirties feminism is finally cool again,” Gamberg said.

The longer scripts she is working on focus on what it’s like to be a feminist teenage girl in the age of the internet, “Crush” looks at some of the same themes through the eyes of a young boy.

“I realized I also have something to say about the male perspective on those feminist issues. I recognize that it can be really difficult for young boys to find themselves,” Gamberg said. “The script for ‘Crush’ is from a boy’s perspective but it definitely broaches the idea of girl power.”

While she plans to submit the finished film to festivals, she also hopes “Crush” has an afterlife on the Internet when it’s finished the festival circuit.

“I want the treatment to feel a little bit like Instagram or Snapchat. I want it to feel like today’s youth and be relatable to today’s youth,” Gamberg explained.“…I want it to be watchable like Internet media is watchable so it will be a quick moving short film with a lot of quick cuts.”

Gamberg has a strong sense of the story she wants to tell and what she wants her film to look like, winning the RBC MJ Award means she can get straight to work on bringing her vision to the screen.

“The MJ Award gives you the resources you need to secure equipment, pay your crew, and produce the film… it can take a long time to get those resources together otherwise,” Gamberg said.

And the award gives you the launching platform of the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival which is growing every year in its recognition as being one of the forerunners for showcasing female talent in the film world.“