- NEW YORK (AP)
Peter Farrelly’s crowd-pleasing Deep South road trip movie “Green Book” won the Toronto International Film Festival’s audience award on Sunday, putting it on an envious path to the Oscars.
Toronto’s People’s Choice Award is one of the most closely watched of the fall festival circuit because it often corresponds with awards-season success. In the past decade, every Toronto People’s Choice winner has scored a best-picture nomination at the Academy Awards.
Few pundits pegged “Green Book” as an awards favorite ahead of its world premiere in Toronto. It is, after all, directed by one-half of the sibling duo best known for broad comedies like “There’s Something About Mary” and “Dumb and Dumber.”
But the audience response was rapturous to “Green Book,” which stars Mahershala Ali as a classical pianist on a concert tour of the Deep South in the 1960s. Viggo Mortensen plays the Italian-American bouncer hired to drive him while relying on “The Green Book,” the guide for African-American-friendly hotels and restaurants.
The first runner-up for Toronto’s top prize was Barry Jenkins’ James Baldwin adaptation “If Beale Street Could Talk. The second runner-up was Alfonso Cuarón’s black-and-white neo-realistic drama “Roma.”
Failing to place in the top three, to the surprise of many, was Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born.” His remake of the Hollywood classic, starring Lady Gaga, had been widely considered the audience-award front-runner in Toronto.
Last year’s audience award in Toronto went to “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”
Toronto’s audience award for documentary went to E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s “Free Solo,” about mountain climber Alex Honnold.
Here’s a full rundown of Toronto Festival award winners:
PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS
This year marked the 41st year that Toronto audiences were able to cast a ballot for their favorite Festival film for the Grolsch People’s Choice Award. This year’s award goes to Peter Farrelly for “Green Book.” The award offers a $15,000 cash prize and custom award, sponsored by Grolsch. The first runner-up is Barry Jenkins’ “If Beale Street Could Talk.” The second runner-up is Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma.”
The Grolsch People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award goes to Vasan Bala’s “The Man Who Feels No Pain.” The first runner-up is David Gordon Green’s “Halloween.” The second runner-up is Sam Levinson’s “Assassination Nation.”
The Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award goes to “Free Solo,” directed by E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin. The first runner-up is Tom Donahue’s “This Changes Everything.” The second runner-up is John Chester’s “The Biggest Little Farm.”
TORONTO PLATFORM PRIZE
This is the fourth year for “Platform,” the Festival’s juried program that champions directors’ cinema from around the world. The Festival welcomed an international jury comprised of award-winning filmmakers Mira Nair, Béla Tarr, and Lee Chang-dong, who unanimously awarded the Toronto Platform Prize Presented by Air France to Wi Ding Ho’s “Cities of Last Things.”
The jury said, “This is a deeply moving drama from a director who shows great skill in his ability to weave together multiple genres with social and political critique, while telling a story that remains intimately human at its core. For us, this film has a spirit that always feels beautifully close to real life.”
“Over the course of the Festival, we’ve had the privilege of watching 12 films that left us excited with the feeling that the future of directors’ cinema is in such capable hands. The great joy of being on the Platform Jury has been participating in a competition celebrating emerging visions that are bold, daring, innovative, and sometimes even challenging. The great difficulty, however, has been selecting only one director to win the Toronto Platform Prize. After much contemplation and thorough discussion, we all agreed together upon one prize winner and one honorable mention.”
Awarding an honorable mention to Emir Baigazin’s “The River,” the jury said: “We were completely absorbed by the singular world this film creates through precise and meticulous craft, breathtaking visuals, and a boldly patient yet engrossing observational style.”
The Toronto Platform Prize offers a custom award and a $25,000 cash prize, made possible by Air France.
The Festival and the Council of Europe’s Eurimages Fund present the third Audentia Award for Best Female Director, selected by the jury comprised of Anne Frank, Reinaldo Marcus Green, and Kerri Craddock. The award goes to Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian’s “Fig Tree.”
“‘Fig Tree’ is a stunning and illuminating debut,” the jury remarked. “Based on her own experiences, Ethiopian-Israeli writer-director Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian takes us on an unsentimental journey and shows us the tragic effects of civil war on ordinary people. Confidently directed with grit and compassion, ‘Fig Tree’ is a beautifully rendered, big-hearted story about a Jewish teenage girl’s attempt to save those she loves, but it’s also an intimate coming-of-age story of self-discovery and female empowerment.” This award carries a €30,000 cash prize.
Awarding an honorable mention to Camilla Strøm Henriksen’s ‘Phoenix,’ the jury said: “‘Phoenix’ is a courageous debut from Norwegian director Camilla Strøm Henriksen. A visually arresting and emotionally nuanced film, ‘Phoenix’ focuses on a young teen who assumes an enormous burden of responsibility in the face of her mother’s mental illness and her father’s absence. With a seamless blend of stark realism and cinematic magic realism, Henriksen’s story subtly, yet powerfully, unfolds from the perspective of her mature young protagonist.”
As selected by a jury from the Network for the Promotion of Asian Pacific Cinema for the seventh consecutive year, the NETPAC Award for World or International Asian Film Premiere in the Discovery and Contemporary World Cinema sections goes to Ash Mayfair’s “The Third Wife.”
Jury members include Vilsoni Hereniko (Fiji), Meng Xie (China), and Gülin Üstün (Turkey). The jury remarked, ”Ash Mayfair’s debut feature ‘The Third Wife’ signaled the emergence of a young female director-writer whose aesthetic sensibilities, cinematic language, and extraordinary ability to illuminate the past for contemporary audiences augur well for the future of Vietnamese and world cinema.”
The jury gave honorable mention to Bai Xue’s “The Crossing.” The jury said, “Bai Xue’s storytelling in her debut film ‘The Crossing’ shattered cinematic boundaries to create an original visual language that propelled her protagonist’s emotional crossing into adulthood as she crossed the physical boundaries of Hong Kong into mainland China.”
THE PRIZES OF THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF FILM CRITICS (FIPRESCI PRIZES)
For the 27th year, the Festival welcomed an international FIPRESCI jury. This year’s jury is comprised of Jury President Lesley Chow (Australia), Andrés Nazarala (Chile), Astrid Jansen (Belgium), Pierre Pageau (Canada), James Slotek (Canada), and Viswanath Subrahmanyan (India).
The Prize of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) for the Discovery program is awarded to Carmel Winters for “Float Like a Butterfly,” which the jury called “a pastoral and traditional bucolic film, capturing the familiar angst and anxiety a young adult woman undergoes in order to have her say in the scheme of things in a predominately male-driven patriarchal society.”
“Through her spectacular and deft narrative, nuanced understanding of the dilemmas women face, and a pitch-perfect performance by Hazel Doupe, this film is a triumph of free spirit.”
Honorable mention goes to Laura Luchetti’s “Twin Flower.”
The Prize of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) for Special Presentations is awarded to Guy Nattiv for “Skin,” which the jury called “a gripping study of a group of extremists and the choices available to them. It’s raw yet intelligently paced, with stunning performances, especially by a near-unrecognizable Vera Farmiga.”
Honorable mention goes to Louis Garrel’s “A Faithful Man.”
IWC SHORT CUTS AWARD FOR BEST SHORT FILM
The IWC Short Cuts Award for Best Short Film goes to Sandhya Suri’s “The Field.” The jury noted, “The film is striking for its aesthetic lyricism, tender performances, and powerful emotional impact.”
“It’s a unique and refreshing glimpse into female desire set in rural India that demonstrated a scope greater than its short format.” The award offers a $10,000 cash prize, made possible by IWC Schaffhausen.
The jury gave honorable mentions to Anette Sidor’s “Fuck You,” for its acutely observed study of teenage sexuality, and to Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels’s “This Magnificent Cake!,” for the spectacular level of animation and the surreal humor it uses to explore its complex colonial subject matter. The short-film awards were selected by a jury comprised of Claire Diao, Molly McGlynn, and Michael Pearce.
IWC SHORT CUTS AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN SHORT
The IWC Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Short Film goes to Meryam Joobeur’s “Brotherhood. The jury remarked, “The film was masterfully executed, layered with bold ideas, rich textures, and nuanced character observations played by an unforgettable cast.””
“The film successfully explored complex personal and political themes with compassion for its characters. By employing the intimate prism of a Tunisian family, the film was evidently made with a sense of maturity that points to a bright future from Meryam Joobeur.” The award offers a $10,000 cash prize, made possible by IWC Schaffhausen.
The jury awarded an honorable mention to Jérémy Comte’s “Fauve” for its confident visual storytelling and moving performances from the child actors. The short-film awards were selected by a jury comprised of Claire Diao, Molly McGlynn, and Michael Pearce.
CITY OF TORONTO AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN FIRST FEATURE FILM
The City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film goes to Katherine Jerkovic’s “Roads in February” (“Les routes en février”). The jury remarked it was selected, “For its warm portrayal of a young woman trying to reconnect with her distant heritage after her father’s untimely death, and for the way the film demonstrates how genuine human connections best develop between two individuals when they stand on common ground.” This award carries a cash prize of $15,000, made possible by the City of Toronto. The Canadian awards were selected by a jury comprised of Mathieu Denis, Ali Özgentürk, and Michelle Shephard.
CANADA GOOSE® AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN FEATURE FILM
The Canada Goose® Award for Best Canadian Feature Film goes to Sébastien Pilote’s “The Fireflies Are Gone” (“La disparition des lucioles”). The jury said it was chosen, “For its true-to-life depiction of a young woman’s quest to find meaning and hope in a world that has constantly disappointed her.” This award carries a cash prize of $30,000 and a custom award, sponsored by Canada Goose®. The Canadian awards were selected by a jury comprised of Mathieu Denis, Ali Özgentürk, and Michelle Shephard.