The Toronto Film Festival has awarded Pietro Marcello’s Martin Eden with its Platform Prize as the festival winds down its 2019 edition. Several winners were announced Thursday during a ceremony at the Bisha Hotel including the FIPRESCI Prize for the Discovery program, awarded to Heather Young for Murmur, and the FIPRESCI Prize for the Special Presentations program won by Coky Giedroyc’s How to Build a Girl starring Beanie Feldstein.
Martin Eden, which Kino Lorber acquired for North America last week after its Venice Film Festival world premiere, is an adaptation of the 1909 Jack London novel about a young man (Luca Marinelli) trying to rise above his circumstances and become a member of the literary elite.
The pic was selected to receive the $20,000 CAD prize by a jury comprised of filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari, Berlinale artistic director Carlo Chatrian and film critic Jessica Kiang.
“A politically and philosophically provocative story told with extraordinary cinematic invention and grace, this film reaffirms a faith that is easy to lose in 2019: that the cinema we know is an iceberg with nine-tenths still remaining to be discovered,” the jury said. “This is a classic story told in a novel manner that dips below the surface to find highly unconventional, often archival modes of expression that are irreverent and anachronistic and yet that honour and participate in the history of cinema.”
The Platform jury awarded honorable mentions to Kazik Radwanski’s Anne at 13,000 Ft and Alice Winocour’s Proxima.
As for the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI), the jury including Rita di Santo (UK), Frédéric Jaeger (Germany), Liam Lacey (Canada), Ruben Peralta Rigaud (Dominican Republic), Müge Turan (Turkey) and Claire Valade (Canada) selected the Discover sidebar’s Murmur “for its impressive, minimalist, and precise storytelling — both in its structure and its use of static camerawork and framing — and for its empathetic and powerful simplicity in deconstructing the effects of an addictive personality.” The pic is the feature debut for Young, who used a cast of Nova Scotian non-professional actors.
The FIPRESCI Special Presentations prize to How to Build a Girl comes after it world premiered at TIFF last weekend. Feldstein stars in “a witty and heartfelt story of an irrepressible teenage girl who breaks into the snooty boys’ club of English rock criticism, loses her soul, and then gains it back again,” the jury said.
TIFF will announce other winners including the Oscar-race predictive People’s Choice Award, on Sunday. Last year, eventual Best Picture winner Green Book took the prize, with past winners including 12 Years a Slave, The King’s Speech, Slumdog Millionaire and American Beauty.
Festival organizers said Thursday that it will not be holding a formal awards ceremony this year, instead announcing winners via social media channels as most filmmmakers have left the city by fest’s end.