by Cord Jefferson American fiction won the top People’s Choice honor Sunday at the Toronto Film Festival, capping a 48th edition with little Hollywood star power amid the uncertainty of twin Hollywood strikes.
Jefferson’s feature film debut, an Orion adaptation of Percival Everett’s 2001 novel To clearhad its world premiere in Toronto on September 8 at the Princess Alexandra Theater. The film about racial dynamics in the US portrays a black academic, played by Jeffery Wright, who becomes frustrated because the only ‘black books’ seem to find a wide audience. and white) audiences are the ones treading on stereotypes.
“My thanks to everyone who watched American Fiction, talking about it afterwards with friends and colleagues is endless. The film is now in your hands and I am so grateful that it was embraced in this way,” Jefferson said in a statement Sunday morning.
The American director’s film took home TIFF’s top audience award, considered a barometer for future Academy Award nominations, but that comes with an asterisk this year for a Toronto festival hit hard by the Hollywood double actors and writers strikes.
The first runner-up for the best audience award is The survivors, directed by Alexander Payne and starring Paul Giamatti and newcomer Dominic Sessa, and the second runner-up is The boy and the heron from Japanese anime legend Hayao Miyazaki and which opened in Toronto on September 7.
Previous TIFF Audience Award Winners — Including Room, La La Land, 12 years slave And Nomad country – got a lift from the normally celebrity-drenched Canadian festival on its way to Academy Award wins.
Sunday’s unveiling of the winners was a muted affair after TIFF – overshadowed this year by Venice and Telluride like never before as Toronto locals had come to expect an army of Hollywood A-listers on the red carpets – saw few American stars on the red runners or glitzy after-screening parties.
The People’s Choice Awards are voted on by TIFF participants. Participants could not vote online more than once using their email address, because TIFF measured the origin of each vote and linked it to the festival’s ticket buyer information and database.
The People’s Choice Award for Best Documentary went to Mr. Dressup: the magic of make-believe, directed by Robert McCallum. The first runner-up is Jen Markowitz Summer Qampand is the second runner-up Mountain Queen: The peaks of Lhakpa Sherpa by director Lucy Walker and picked up by Netflix earlier at the festival.
And the best audience award for the best Midnight Madness title at TIFF went to Larry Charles. Dicks: the musical, which also stars Nathan Lane, Megan Mullally and Megan Thee Stallion. The first runner-up in that category is that of Nikhil Nagesh Bhat Kill and is the second runner-up Hell of a summer from co-directors Finn Wolfhard and Billy Bryk.
The ongoing labor action by members of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Writers Guild of America resulted in members being barred from promoting their latest films at Toronto and other fall film festivals unless their producers had signed interim agreements.
At the award ceremony by the jury, that of Tarsem Singh Dhandwar Dear Jassi, a drama set in India that had projection problems in Toronto during a world premiere, won the Platform Prize, and the FIPRESCI Prize went to Meredith Hama-Brow’s feature debut Seagrass.
Elsewhere, the NETPAC Award for Best Asian Film at TIFF was collected by Jayant Digambar Somalikar’s A match, another feature debut. And the highest Short Cuts prize went to Daria Kashcheeva Electricity.
In another jury awards ceremony, the Amplify Voice Awards went to Henri Pardo for the Haiti-centric drama Kanaval and co-directors Carol Kunnuk and Lucy Tulugarjuk for Tautuktavuk (What we see). And the award for the best Canadian feature film, as ≥.selected by a TIFF jury, went to Sophie Dupuis’ film Solo, a strange drama set in Montreal’s drag queen scene, starring Theodore Pelletier.
TIFF juries also presented the Changemaker Award to Minhal Baig We have grown now, a coming-of-age story set in a public housing complex in Chicago from 1992.
On the film sales front, few deals were unveiled in Toronto as the twin Hollywood strikes and SAG-AFTRA restrictions kept buyers from traveling to Toronto or making deals locally for acquisition titles.
Netflix has picked up Anna Kendrick’s directorial debut, Woman of the Hour, for approximately $11 million after a world premiere at the festival, and also acquired the worldwide rights to Lucy Walker’s documentary Mountain Queen: The peaks of Lhakpa Sherpa.
Otherwise, no other major deals were announced at TIFF, which has always relied on sales of completed films rather than pre-sale packages.
Buyers were stuck in the stalemate at the negotiating table between the major studios and streamers and Hollywood actors and writers.
Sales agents also left their stars at home for acquisition titles, as deals with major buyers like Netflix, Apple or Amazon or whatever platform affiliated with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers seemed elusive heading into the 48th century.e edition.