Family dramas, IRA prisoner film win big at TIFF
Last Updated: Saturday, September 13, 2008 | 2:49 PM ET
Rodrigue Jean's story about a family struggling with the birth of a child, Lost Song, and a film about IRA prisoner Bobby Sands, Hunger, captured major awards at the 33rd Toronto International Film Festival.
Prizes were handed out at a luncheon in a downtown hotel on Saturday.
In Lost Song, a couple handle depression and isolation while living in a summer cottage in Quebec with their newborn. The jury, which handed Jean the prize for best Canadian feature as well as $30,000, described the film as "profound, masterful and devastatingly sad." The jury also gave a special citation to Atom Egoyan's Adoration. Actress Freida Pinto, left, accepts the People's Choice Award for the movie Slumdog Millionaire, directed by Danny Boyle at the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday. (J.P. Moczulski/Canadian Press)
British artist Steve McQueen's Hunger garnered raves from reviewers and was bestowed the Diesel Discovery Award, voted on by the festival's press corps of 1,000 international media. McQueen gets a $10,000 cash award.
Hunger chronicles the 1981 hunger strike of Bobby Sands as he and other political inmates of Northern Ireland's Maze Prison tried to gain special category status for republican prisoners. The film also grabbed CBC Arts Online's top film of the festival award.
The Cadillac People's Choice Award, voted on by festival audiences, was handed to Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, about an orphan from the streets of Mumbai who lands on India's Who Wants to be A Millionaire? television show. Boyle gets $15,000.
That also meant that Slumdog Millionaire was shown free at 9 p.m. at the Elgin Theatre in downtown Toronto on Saturday night. Tickets were available on a first-come, first-served basis at the theatre.
Adaptation of J.M. Coetzee book gets trophy
Other prizes given out include the Prize of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) for Discovery, handed to Derick Martini's Lymelife.
Martini's tale examines family dynamics and the American dream in the 1970s on Long Island as seen through the perspective of a 15-year-old boy. After an outbreak of Lyme disease, the boy's family and their neighbours start to unravel in the wake of illness and paranoia.
Another FIPRESCI Prize for Special Presentations was given to Steve Jacobs' Disgrace, based on the Booker Prize-winning novel by J.M. Coetzee.
John Malkovich stars as a South African professor whose life falls apart after he has an affair with a student. He escapes to his daughter's farm, only to become a victim of a vicious attack, which tests their relationship.
Other Canadian filmmakers to land on the winner's podium included Chris Chong Chan Fui for his best Canadian short.
Fui's Block B examines the lives of an expatriate Indian community "weaving itself through the contradicting soundscapes of contemporary Malaysia," as described by the festival.
The jury hailed it for being "simple, graphic, hypnotic — this is an achievement of bringing cinema to its bare essentials." Fui gets $10,000. A special citation also went to Denis Villeneuve's Next Floor.
And Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Piujuq Ivalu's Before Tomorrow won best Canadian first feature.
The story, based on a novel by Danish author Jørn Riel, concerns an Inuit woman and her grandson who become trapped on a remote island. The filmmakers receive $15,000 for their efforts.
The festival wraps up on Saturday after screenings of more than 300 films from 64 countries in 10 days.