The Toronto International Film Festival is unique in that it eschews any actual awards—best actor or actress, best feature, outstanding direction or screenplay, etc.—in favor of audience-voted prizes. This year’s honorees were announced over the weekend as the 36th annual edition of the festival came to a close.
Director Nadine Labaki‘s “Where Do We Go Now?“—a French, Lebanese, Italian and Egyptian co-production—won theCadillac People’s Choice Award and provided more evidence that this year’s festival was definitely female-powered.
IndieWirecalls the film a “crowd-pleasing comedy” that tells the story of a group Lebanese women “who put aside their religious and cultural differences to keep their village going as violence and strife on the outside threaten to disrupt their way of life.” As yet, “Where Do We Go Now?” does not have U.S. distribution but this prize should soon change that.
The Cadillac People’s Choice Documentary Award was given to U.S. entrant “The Island President“ from director Jon Shenk. The AwardsDaily website raves over the “(b)eautifully shot, heartbreakingly real” story of Nasheed, whose “surprising election to office provides a great backdrop for the kind of desperation he’s presenting both in terms of his own country”—the Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean—”which is about to drown under sea water, and global warming throughout the world.”
Helmer Gareth Evans saw the Cadillac People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award go to his Indonesian flick “The Raid.” It’s already been picked up for distribution in the U.S. by Sony and “follows the conflict between a SWAT team and a gang of mobsters armed to the teeth and trained in martial arts. Some incredible and extraordinary action sequences ensue,” notes IndieWire. In a sign that Sony is high on its potential for success, Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park has been brought aboard to re-score the film.
“Monsieur Lazhar“ (director: Philippe Falardeau) winner of the City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian Feature is “set in a Montreal elementary school,” notes the TIFF write-up, and “speaks of loss and death, innocence and guilt, imposture and honesty, in an eloquent and complex, yet simple and fluid manner.”
Meanwhile, the Skyy Vodka Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film went to the Nathan Morlando-directed “Edwin Boyd“ with Scott Speedman—a Canadian himself—in the title role of an infamous bank robber from the 1940s and ’50s.
Best Canadian Short Film was bestowed upon “Doubles with Slight Pepper“ from helmer Ian Harnarine.
The Prize of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize)—Special Presentations went to director Gianni Amelio‘s “The First Man“ (a French, Algerian and Italian co-production) while helmer Axel Petersen‘s “Avalon,” a Swedish entry, won the Prize of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize)—Discovery.
CLICK HERE for the TIFF 2011 website.