TORONTO: 'The King's Speech', 'Beautiful Boy', And 'Incendies' Win Top Fest Prizes

A Toronto International Film Festival that will be best remembered for the comeback of the independent acquisitions marketplace culminated today in festival awards. The Tom Hooper-directed The King’s Speech was awarded the Cadillac People’s Choice Award, which is the festival’s audience award, based on ballots collected after each screening. The picture, which stars Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, came in with The Weinstein Company as a distributor, and leaves the festival a bonafide Oscar season contender.  Runner-up for the audience prize was the Justin Chadwick-directed First Grader.

The Prize of the International Critics for the Discovery program went to director Shawn Ku for Beautiful Boy, a searing drama that stars Michael Sheen and Maria Bello as estranged parents of a college student who goes on a murderous campus rampage before committing suicide. The parents go through stages of guilt and denial as they attempt to process an unimaginable tragedy. Said the jury: “This film shows its audience that in a world of chaos and insanity, humanity is the only key to life.”

Anchor Bay Films paid seven-figures for distribution rights in English-speaking territories last Wednesday following the film’s premiere. A P&A commitment is also part of the deal.

The City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian Feature went to Denis Villeneuve for Incendies, a  wrenching drama about immigration and war. The award carries a cash prize of $30,000 but more importantly for Villeneuve, distribution rights were acquired by Sony Pictures Classics.

The International Critics Prize for Special Presentations has been awarded to Pierre Thoretton for the French film L’Amour Fou. Said the jury: “This film portrays the poignant, emotional and cinematic expression of the life and times of an internationally renowned artist, exploring his stark loneliness and artistic overtones.”

The Cadillac People’s Choice Award for the Midnight Madness program was awarded to the Jim Mickle-directed Stake Land, with the Michael Dowse-directed Fubar II the runner-up.

The Skyy Vodka Award for Best Canadian First Feature went to Deborah Chow for The High Cost of Living. The Best Canadian Short Film was given to Vincent Biron for Les Fleurs de l’age.

The Cadillac People’s Choice Award for Documentary went to the Sturla Gunnarsson-directed Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie.

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