Terry George's HotelRwanda won the AGF Peoples' ChoiceAward at the Toronto International Film Festival, as the 29thedition wrapped here on Sunday.
Starring Don Cheadle, theUK-South Africa-Italy coproduction is based on the experience of PaulRusesabagina, an hotel manager who saved many lives during the Rwandan civilwar. The prize was one of many awarded to international coproductions at thefestival, a ringing endorsement of global partnerships.
Pete Travis' UK-Eirecoproduction Omagh won theDiscovery Award, the prize for best film from the festival's Discoveryprogramme of emerging international filmmakers; the award is selected throughballots from the festival's 750 international media. The examines the 1998 IRAbombing of the small Irish market town. Alliance Atlantis has the film forCanada.
The three-person FIPRESCIjury honoured Brad McGann's New Zealand-UK coproduction In My Father's Den, "for its emotional maturity, striking performancesand visual grace." Screening in Discovery as well, the film follows a NewZealand war correspondent returning to his remote hometown to confront a secretthat has haunted his adult life. The prize is bestowed on an emerging filmmakerwhose film is making its world premiere at the festival.
The C$30,000 Toronto-CityAward for Best Canadian Feature Film went to UK-Canada coproduction It's AllGone Pete Tong, by Canada's MichaelDowse. Set in the resort island of Ibiza, it tells the tragi-comic story of acelebrity DJ who is losing his hearing. The win was doubly significant giventhat the film, which screened in the Canada First! programme dedicated toemerging talent, beat out films from established Canadian filmmakers such asDon McKellar, Bruce McDonald and Daniel McIvor. Alliance Atlantis has the filmfor Canada.
The C$15,000 Toronto-CityAward for Best Canadian First Feature Film was awarded to Daniel Roby's LaPeau Blanche, "for its audaciousgenre bending as well as its mix of race politics, romance and horror."Accepting the prize the Montreal-based Roby said the prize was all-sweeterbecause Toronto was the one festival he hoped to be programmed in. SevillePictures has Canadian rights.
The CanadianFeature Film Awards jury gave a special citation to Velcro Ripper's documentaryScaredSacred, a personaltravelogue that explores the possibility of embracing fear and anguish ratherthan fleeing it. The jury cited the film "for its ability to take the audienceon a very personal journey that has universal resonance in a time of paranoiaand uncertainty, and for finding hope in moments of despair.
The $10,000 Bravo!FACT ShortCuts Canada Award went to Dylan Akio Smith's Man Feel Pain.
Festival co-directors PiersHandling and Noah Cowan congratulated everyone and themselves for another greatfestival; Cowan was especially ebullient to take on his new position in such astrong year. With its 30th anniversary coming in 2005, Toronto islooking to solidify its position as the principal platform for the awardsseason. Cowan noted that several Toronto audience award winners had gone on toOscar glory, including Life Is Beautiful, American Beauty, CrouchingTiger, Hidden Dragon, Amelie and The Whale Rider.
As for Hotel Rwanda, it's worth noting that the real Paul Rusesabagina wasin attendance at its Toronto world premiere