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King's Speech, Incendies big winners as Toronto ends

The curtain closed on TIFF’s 35th edition with eight awards and $60,000 in prizes handed out during an awards brunch on Sunday [19].

The Cadillac People’s Choice Awards went to the UK/Australian co-production The King’s Speech (C$15,000) and  the City Of Toronto Award and C$30,000 was awarded to Incendies (pictured), which was picked up by Sony Classics during the 11-day extravaganza.

“This money will go directly to [Canadian Prime Minister] Stephen Harper,” Incendies director/writer Denis Villeneuve told Screen after the brunch. “After a movie like this, I travel a lot and spend six months without salary, so this prize is a benediction; it also gives me time to write.”

The award for Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech – the story of King George VI after his brother abdicates – was picked up by distributor Alliance’s Mark Sloan who noted what many distributors have said this edition regarding the public attendance: “The fact that this is voted on by audiences… makes this award special. The Toronto audience is such a great audience to launch the film with… on behalf of Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter… the cast and crew… we are excited and honoured.”

The Cadillac People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award went to Jim Mickle’s Stake Land (USA) about the aftermath of a vampire epidemic. On hand to accept the award, writer-actor Nick Damici said, “We spent the whole movie as Americans running away to Canada; well we finally made it.”

The Cadillac People’s Choice Documentary Award went to Sturla Gunnarsson’s Force Of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie (Canada).

The award for Best Canadian Short Film went to Vincent Biron for Les Fleurs De L’Age about a summer day for a group of school children. The award carries a $10,000 cash prize from the National Film Board Of Canada.

The SKYY Vodka Award (C$15,000) for Best Canadian First Feature Film went to Deborah Chow for The High Cost Of Living, which the jury lauded for maintaining “a compelling realism with a strong sense of emotional power.”

The Prize of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) for the Discovery programme went to Shawn Ku for Beautiful Boy (USA). The jury remarked: “This film shows its audience that in a world of chaos and insanity, humanity is the only key to life.”

The Prize of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) for special presentations was awarded to Pierre Thoretton forL’Amour Fou (France).

At the brunch, Tiff CEO and co-director Piers Handling said: “We’ve climbed two mountains at the same time this year,” referring to the TIFF Bell Lightbox launch and the “public response… from the smallest films to the largest films, we were very proud of the international [programming].”

Festival co-director Cameron Bailey told the crowd it had been “a very strong year for sales.” Bailey continued: “I think what we saw at TIFF this year was a turnaround.” He noted that 23 films sold to US or major international territories during the festival, reflecting a rise in the volume of business during the event, which ran from September 9-19.

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