Haviah Mighty’s Thirteen wins 2021 Prism Prize for top Canadian music video


Director Theo Kapidistrias is this year’s top winner of the Prism Prize for his work on the music video for Haviah Mighty’s Thirteen, organizers said Monday

The win, one of several prizes recognizing achievement and artistry in Canadian music videos, comes with $20,000.

Kapidistrias’s work on Mighty’s video beat out that of nine other shortlisted artists, who did videos for musicians including TOBi, Mustafa and Sean Leon. 

Alongside Kapidistrias’s win, the fan-voted audience award went to directors Evan Elliot and Lance Sampson for their work on the video for Acquakultre’s Pay it Forward.

The winners were announced in a virtual ceremony — the second such Prism presentation since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic — narrated by Canadian rapper Cadence Weapon. 

WATCH | The making of the Thirteen music video: 

“I hope when people watch [the video for] ‘Thirteen,’ they feel moved to do their part in reversing white supremacy. I hope we can begin to see one another as equal — a dream I’ve always hoped could one day be a reality. ” Haviah Mighty breaks down the making of her video for “Thirteen” which explores the history of slavery in the United States and how Black people are systemically oppressed globally to this day. 3:44

Thirteen has been turning heads since its release in 2019 on Mighty’s debut album 13th Floor — which won her the Polaris Music Prize that year, making her the first hip-hop artist to do so in the prize’s 14-year history.

Speaking to CBC Music ahead of the video’s release last year, Mighty said the song specifically addresses the United States’ 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery except, notably, a punishment for crime, with with a universal message.  

“If you listen to the song, I think it’s clear how it ties in to every Black person globally,” she said. 

Kapidistrias both directed and animated the video, and told CBC he designed it look like a storybook. 

Louis Calabro, vice president of programming and awards at the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television and founder of the prize, noted the video’s powerful message and ability to “expand a viewer’s experience beyond the song.”

“This is artwork that we are honoured to add to the distinguished list of Prism Prize Grand Prize winners,” Calabro was quoted as saying in a press release. 

Also on Monday, art-punk band Crack Cloud won the Hi-Fidelity Award, which recognizes “recording artists who utilize music video in innovative ways.” Gennelle Cruz won the Lipsett Award — given to a creator who takes a unique approach to music video art — and Jordan Oram won the special achievement award.

Finally, noted scholar, writer and artist Leanne Betasamosake Simpson won the Willie Dunn Award. That prize — given in memory of the Montreal-born singer-songwriter, film director and politician — is “presented to a Canadian trailblazer who has demonstrated excellence within the music, music video and/or film production communities.” 

As part of that award, Simpson received a $2,500 honorarium, and the opportunity to select an emerging Canadian artist to spotlight during the presentation and to be given an honorarium of their own. Simpson chose Inuk musician Beatrice Deer. 

Previous winners of the Prism Prize include Kevin Funk for Belle Game’s Low, Fantavious Fritz for Charlotte Day Wilson’s Work, and Martin C. Pariseau for Kaytranada’s Lite Spots. Last year saw director Peter Huang win for his work on Jessie Reyez’s Far Away, at a virtual presentation hosted by Haviah Mighty. 

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