While there are no formal competition awards given out by the festival itself, over the past few years TIFF's Audience Award -- vote on by moviegoers -- has often been an augur of future Oscar success. "The King's Speech" (12 nominations, 4 wins including Best Picture), "Precious" (6 nominations, 2 wins), "Slumdog Millionaire" (10 nominations, 8 wins including Best Picture) and "Eastern Promises" (1 nomination) have all benefitted from the boost the honor bestows up on a picture. However, this year, TIFF attendees have gone with a pretty surprising choice -- a film that will unlikely be much of an awards player but will definitely see its profile skyrocket.
Nadine Labaki’s crowd-pleasing comedy "Where Do We Go Now" has taken the The Cadillac People's Choice Award in 2011. The film premiered earlier this year at Cannes (where this writer fully admis to walking out on it; it's a pretty conventional and predictably quirky piece of work but we suppose we'll have to give it another shot) and tells the story of a bunch of 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. The film is definitely one that has come out of nowhere to take the prize, and while there is no U.S. distribution in place just yet, that will likely change very, very soon.
In other awards news the hugely buzzed "The Raid" took home the People's Choice Award in the Midnight Madness section. This is a film we're hugely bummed that we missed, but it has been earning raves from everyone who has seen it. Hailing from Indonesia (although helmed by Welsh director Gareth Huw Evans), “The Raid” 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 (or so we've been told). Clearly, this one has connected with critics, genre enthusiasts and audiences alike and Sony has picked up the film for North American distribution. However, since their genre division Screen Gems more or less flopped with the equally hyped "Attack The Block" this summer, it will be interesting to see how a subtitled flick will fare. But the hire of Linkin Park dude Mike Shinoda to re-score the movie is surely a sign of some kind of faith.
And that's pretty much all she wrote for TIFF. The festival has its last screenings today before the red carpet is rolled back up. Here is the rundown of the award winners:
People’s Choice Documentary Award: Jon Shenk's "The Island President"
FIPRESCI Prize for the Discovery programme: Axel Petersén's "Avalo"
FIPRESCI Prize for Special Presentations: Gianni Amelio's "The First Man"
The SKYY Vodka Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film: Nathan Morlando's "Edwin Boyd"
The City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian Feature Film: Philippe Falardeau's "Monsieur Lazha"
The award for Best Canadian Short Film: Ian Harnarine's "Doubles With Slight Pepper"