Writer-director-actor Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit won the Toronto International Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award on Sunday (9/15). The honor is viewed as an early harbinger of what’s to come in Hollywood’s awards season. Every Toronto Audience award winner in the past decade has scored a Best Picture Oscar nomination. Last year’s Audience winner Green Book went on to take the Academy Award for Best Picture, continuing a tradition which saw such films as 12 Years a Slave, The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire win the Toronto honor and then the coveted Best Picture Oscar.
Jojo Rabbit is a coming-of-age satiric comedy about a 10-year-old boy growing up in World War II Nazi Germany. His imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler, played by Waititi.
The first runner-up to Jojo Rabbit in the Toronto People’s Choice derby is Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story. Second runner-up is Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite.
Meanwhile the People’s Choice Award winner in the documentary category is director Feras Fayyad’s The Cave. The first runner-up is Garin Hovannisian’s I Am Not Alone. The second runner-up is Bryce Dallas Howard’s Dads.
And the People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award goes to Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s The Platform. The first runner-up is Andrew Patterson’s The Vast of Night. The second runner-up is Jeff Barnaby’s Blood Quantum.
Canadian feature film
The award for Best Canadian Feature Film went to Sophie Deraspe’s Antigone. The jury said that “Antigone stands out on its own as an electrifying piece of cinema. Tackling with vigor contemporary realities of immigration in Canada through the framework of Greek tragedy, Deraspe created magnificent onscreen humanism. It is imperative to point out Nahéma Ricci’s performance, reminiscent of Renée Falconetti’s Jeanne d’Arc.”
The jury gave honorable mention to Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn’s The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open.
Best 1st Canadian feature
The City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film went to Matthew Rankin’s The Twentieth Century. The jury remarked, “Rankin’s debut feature is superb in its imaginative wildness, taking an otherwise staid historical Canadian figure and propelling him into the heart of one of the most creative, visual, and compelling experiences of the Festival.”
Selected by a jury from the Network for the Promotion of Asian Pacific Cinema (NETPAC), the NETPAC Award was presented to Oualid Mouaness’ 1982.
The jury remarked that this film was selected “for its adventurous, imaginative style and subtle, confident filmmaking, bravely juxtaposing and framing the universal innocence and charm of youth within harrowing historical context.”
Earning Best Short Film distinction was Lasse Linder for All Cats Are Grey in the Dark. The jury noted, “Blurring the line between narrative and documentary, Linder’s All Cats Are Grey in the Dark simultaneously observes its main character — and its topic — with both empathy and absurdity. This unexpectedly touching, exceptionally composed, and tender tale of a man’s love for his cats (along with the best employed use of Alexa) surprised the jury with its observational filmmaking and memorable feline performances.”
Named Best Canadian Short Film was Chloé Robichaud’s Delphine. The jury remarked, “By presenting its main character’s unique point of view through another character’s perspective, Robichaud’s Delphine boldly utilizes an original narrative device to offer a refreshing twist on the coming-of-age genre. This evocative, mysterious, yet sensitive short film brings up powerful feelings of nostalgia and memory, leaving an impact that lingers with the viewer long after its all-too-short run time comes to a close.”
The jury awarded an honorable mention to Theodore Ushev’s The Physics of Sorrow for its impressive filmmaking and detailed craftsmanship.
In a joint statement, TIFF co-head and artistic director Cameron Bailey and TIFF co-head and executive director Joana Vicente said, “TIFF 2019 was a stellar year. The films and talent featured in this year’s Festival have left us inspired, awestruck, and excited for the future of cinema.”