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(Credit: Martin Eden)

TIFF 2019: Awards at the Toronto International Film Festival

The winners of this year’s film awards at the Toronto International Film Festival were announced on the festival’s closing weekend. A diverse range of international films in many categories were honoured. 

The annual Grolsch People’s Choice Awards are given purely on the basis of votes from festival attendees. This year, Toronto film fans selected New Zealand writer/director Taika Waititi’s inventive comedy, Jojo Rabbit, as best film overall. The unusual film, starring Sam Rockwell and Scarlett Johansson, follows a little boy in 1930s Germany, whose imaginary friend and advisor is his own version of Adolph Hitler. Waititi himself plays the imaginary Hitler in a truly original political satire. 

Additional People’s Choice Awards are elected from two sub-categories. The award in the Midnight Madness category, for the festival’s best action, horror, or fantasy films, goes this year to premiering Spanish film The Platform, director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s horrifying dystopian vision.

(Credit: Jojo Rabbit)

The People’s Choice for best documentary went to Syrian director Feras Fayyad’s The Cave, a portrait of a Syrian underground battlefield hospital run entirely by women.

Among the jury awards is the Toronto Platform Prize, selected by a panel of filmmakers and professional film critics from among the Platform category – a selection of films chosen by the distinctive vision of their directors. This year’s Platform Prize, which includes a custom award and $20,000 (Cdn), goes to Pietro Marcello’s Martin Eden, an Italian/French historical drama based on the Jack London novel of the same name. Director Pietro Marcello used a combination of 16mm film and archival footage to create the film’s striking look; the selection jury calls it “a politically and philosophically provocative story told with extraordinary cinematic invention and grace.”

Platform Prize honourable mentions go to Kazik Radwanski’s tense character study, Anne at 13,000 ft; and French director Alice Winocour’s Proxima, the story of a woman torn between her family and her career as an astronaut.

(Credit: Antigone)

TIFF also presents the Fipresci Prize, an award from the International Federation of Film Critics, given to films in two categories. This year’s winner in the Discovery category, which honours new directors, is Murmur, from first-time feature director Heather Young. The film tells the story of a lonely woman who becomes addicted to adopting abandoned pets.

In the Special Presentations category, the panel of critics chose Coky Giedroyc’s How to Build a Girl, a coming-of-age story about a working class London teenager.

Special awards were also given for best Canadian film – this year, for Sophie Deraspe’s Antigone, a modern take on the ancient Greek tragedy – and best Canadian first feature film, to newcomer Matthew Rankin for his gonzo reimagining of Canadian historical events, The Twentieth Century.Finally, the Netpac Award, selected by a jury from the Network for the Promotion of Asian Pacific Cinema, chose Oualid Mouaness’ 1982, a drama which sees difficult events in ’82 Lebanon from the perspective of local schoolchildren.