Toronto International Film Festival Winners

This indie darling festival comes to an end for another year but not before it gives us 10 films to anticipate in the coming months. Unfortunately, of the 10 winning films at the 39th Toronto International Film Festival (which includes two shorts), only one was directed by a woman. The Indian director, screenwriter, and producer Shonali Bose was awarded the NETPAC Award For Best Asian Film for Margarita, With a Straw. The film follows Laila: a student, a songwriter, sexually curious, and afflicted by cerebral palsy.

The Spanish director Isabel Coixet was the first runner-up for the prestigious People’s Choice Award for her comedy-drama Learning to Drive. Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson take the wheel in this film about a Manhattan writer who takes cab driving lessons with a Sheikh instructor after her marriage dissolves. The winner of the People’s Choice Award was Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game about the brilliant British mathematician Alan Turing, portrayed by Brit-of-the-moment, Benedict Cumberbatch.

Beats of the Antonov

Still from “Beats of the Antonov”

The People’s Choice Award For Documentary went to Beats of the Antonov, Hajooj Kuka’s powerful tale of how music can alleviate trauma in face of civil war.

The People’s Choice Award For Midnight Madness went to the New Zealand production What We Do in the Shadows. Directed by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Concords fame, this is a fun horror mockumentary about a group of vampires, a subject that everyone is just about fed up with.


Still from “Bang Baby Bang”

From the Canadian focused categories, the award for best film went to Felix and Meira, a stylized Romeo and Juliet tale about a romance between a Québécois man and a Hasidic Jewish woman. The award for best first feature film went to Jeffrey St. Jules’ Bang Bang Baby, a homage to 1950’s sci-fi with musical numbers, surreal sequences, and colorful costumes. Can’t say I’m not looking forward to this one.

Time Out of Mind

Still from “Time Out of Mind”

The awkwardly titled Prize of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) for Special Presentations Section went to
 Time Out of Mind. Directed by Oren Moverman, it tackles the very important issue of homelessness and marks a bit of a comeback for (an unrecognizable) Richard Gere. May Allah Bless France! won the Prize of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) for Discovery Section. Directed by the French rapper Abd Al Malik, it is being touted as the next 8 Mile, albeit one set in the slums of an Islamic neighborhood in Paris.

Sotiris Dounoukos’ A Single Body took the honors for the Best International Short Film. And the Best Canadian Short Film was awarded to the animated and existentially themed The Weatherman and the Shadowboxer.


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