Precious wins TIFF People's Choice Award
Last Updated: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 | 4:05 PM ET
An urban tale of a teen girl who tries to overcome abuse, illiteracy and teen pregnancy, the film initially set off buzz at the Sundance Film Festival in January, attracting the attention of Winfrey and Perry (now listed as executive producers of the film).
It also garnered praise for its performances, led by newcomer Gabourey Sidibe in the title role and brash comedian Mo'Nique as her tyrannical mother.
'I made this film for every person out there who ever looked in the mirror and felt unsure about the person looking back.'—Lee Daniels, director of Precious
"The audience award holds such an important meaning. I made this film for every person out there who ever looked in the mirror and felt unsure about the person looking back," Daniels, who had already left Toronto to debut the film at Spain's San Sebastian Film Festival, said in a statement read at the ceremony.
"This is not an art film for a select few. This is a movie that everyone can relate to."
The American director also dedicated his win to TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey.
"Your support of me and belief in my work from the beginning — from The Woodsman, Shadowboxer and now Precious — is unparalleled. And for that I give you my fullest gratitude."
Chosen by moviegoers
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire picked up the much coveted prize, which carries a $15,000 cash value and is also rated highly because it is an audience-voted honour that has often helped vault a title into contention for year-end film awards like the Oscars.
Past winners have included Chariots of Fire, American Beauty, Roger & Me, Amélie, Hotel Rwanda, Tstotsi, Eastern Promises and last year's Slumdog Millionaire.
As per tradition, TIFF will offer a free screening of People's Choice winner at Toronto's Elgin Theatre at 9 p.m. ET Saturday night, with tickets distributed on a first come, first serve basis.
New this year, organizers also introduced two additional People's Choice honours, recognizing the audience's favourite from TIFF's documentary and Midnight Madness lineups.
The inaugural winners, respectively, are Leanne Pooley's The Topp Twins (about the New Zealand lesbian country-and-western singing duo) and Sean Byrne's The Loved Ones (an Australian teen horror-comedy billed as a mash-up of Pretty in Pink and Misery).
Canadian winners honoured
Canadian filmmaker Ruba Nadda was on hand at the noon-hour ceremony to accept the trophy for best Canadian feature film for her latest, Cairo Time, which the jurors described as a "lyrical waltz of longing and desire across disparate worlds."
Accepting the award, Nadda described how the film's financing fell apart two weeks before shooting was to begin in Cairo. Thankfully, producer Danny Irons was able to "pull it together," she said.
"I was really desperate to make this movie. You've made my life."
The jury also awarded a special citation to Quebec director Bernard Émond for his film La Donation (The Legacy).
Other TIFF winners included:
- Pedro Pires for his ballet film Danse Macabre, winner of best Canadian short ($10,000) for a film the jury described as a work "of such devastating beauty that watching it was [like] having fireworks shattering your heart."
- Alexandre Franchi's The Wild Hunt, with the tale set in the fantastical world of role-playing games, named best Canadian first feature film ($15,000).
- Indian director Laxmikant Shetgaonkar for his drama The Man Beyond the Bridge, which received the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) Discovery Prize.
- French director Bruno Dumont's Hadewijch, which nabbed the FIPRESCI Special Presentations Prize.
The 34th annual Toronto International Film Festival closes Saturday night with the gala presentation of The Young Victoria, directed by Canadian Jean-Marc Vallée.