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TORONTO '08 | "Slumdog Millionaire" Takes People's Choice, "Hunger, "Lost Song" Among Other Winners

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire September 13, 2008 at 8:13AM

Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire" was announced as the Cadillac People's Choice Award for the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival Saturday afternoon in Toronto. First runner-up was Kristopher Belman's "More Than A Game" and the second runner-up was Cyrus Nowrasteh's "The Stoning of Soraya M." Other winners included Rodrigue Jean's "Lost Song" for the City of Toronto-CityTV Award For Best Canadian Feature Film, Marie-Helene Cousineau and Madeline Piujug Ivalu's "Before Tomorrow" for the CityTV Award For Best Canadian First Feature Film, and Steve McQueen's "Hunger" for the Diesel Discovery Award.
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Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire" was announced as the Cadillac People's Choice Award for the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival Saturday afternoon in Toronto. First runner-up was Kristopher Belman's "More Than A Game" and the second runner-up was Cyrus Nowrasteh's "The Stoning of Soraya M." Other winners included Rodrigue Jean's "Lost Song" for the City of Toronto-CityTV Award For Best Canadian Feature Film, Marie-Helene Cousineau and Madeline Piujug Ivalu's "Before Tomorrow" for the CityTV Award For Best Canadian First Feature Film, and Steve McQueen's "Hunger" for the Diesel Discovery Award.

The Festival welcomed an international FIPRESCI jury for the 17th consecutive year. The Prizes of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) was divided into two sections this year, with Derick Martini's "Lymelife" winning in the Discovery section and Steve Jacobs' "Disgrace" being awarded in the Special Presentations section. The award For Best Canadian Short Film was awarded to"Chris Chong Chan Fui's "Block B."

Celebrated Canadian filmmaker and actress Sarah Polley (center) jokes with her fellow Canadian Feature Film jurors as she scrambles to figure out which award to give to Canadian First Feature Award winner Marie-Helene Cousineau (right). Photo by Peter Knegt.

Festival CEO and Director Piers Handling introduced the ceremony, held at the InterContinental Hotel in downtown Toronto. "I thought the program was very strong this year from the feedback I got," said Handling. "I think on the whole the industry felt very positive about Toronto this year. It was a difficult year. People felt that some of the films that they took out last fall did not perform that well. I think there's a sense of slight gloom and depression in the industry but I think on the whole they came out of Toronto feeling very positive. There were some high profile sales. Films like 'The Wrestler,' 'Che,' 'Fear Me Not,' 'The Hurt Locker'... And a lot of films got good buzz at the festival this year and I think will go on to do sales after Toronto."

Canadian Feature Films Award Jury member Sarah Polley announced "Before Tomorrow" as the winner of the CityTV Award For Best Canadian First Feature Film. The film, based on the novel by acclaimed Danish author Jorn Riel, follows an Inuit woman and her beloved grandson, who become trapped on a remote island. "Does anyone know which award it is," joked Polley as she rifled through the half dozen or so trophies set out on the table. "This one?" Once she found it, she handed it to a laughing Marie-Helene Cousineau, accepting on behalf of herself and co-director Madeline Piujug Ivalu. "Its really my pleasure to be here," said Cousineau. "Its a very important thing for us to win this award... Thank you to our producers, who really supported us, and let us make the film we wanted to make."

The City of Toronto-Citytv Award for Best Canadian Feature Film was awarded to Rodrigue Jean's "Lost Song." "Amongst the many journeys we took during this festival," said jury member and filmmaker Ann Marie Fleming. "We were transported by one particular film to a minutely detailed, painful world where the only perfect marriage is between character and landscape. This film is constantly surprising. It is impossible to turn your eyes away as you watch the inevitable, desperate descent of a woman in this intimately drawn story."

The final award of the ceremony was the Cadillac People's Choice, which has been awarded in recent years to "Eastern Promises," "Bella," "Tsotsi," Hotel Rwanda" and "Whale Rider." On hand to accept the award for Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire" was the film's co-star Freida Pinto, who graciously thanked the audiences of Toronto. "['Slumdog'] has literally reaffirmed everyone's belief in destiny," said Pinto. She noted this included her own, telling of how she got her visa to come to the festival just four hours before boarding the plane. "There are a lot of firsts for me in this," she said. "It's my first premiere, my first time dealing with the press, and now it's my first award." As the People's Choice winner, "Slumdog Millionaire" will screen for free Saturday night at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto, a new addition to the festival's programming.

COMPLETE LIST OF WINNERS:

Toronto International Film Festival Co-Director Cameron Bailey announces the winner of the Cadillac People's Choice Award. Photo by Peter Knegt.

Cadillac People's Choice Award:
Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire."

The Cadillac People's Choice Award is voted on by Festival audiences. First runner-up was Kristopher Belman's "More Than A Game" and the second runner-up is Cyrus Nowrasteh's "The Stoning of Soraya M". The award offers a $15,000 cash prize.


City of Toronto-CityTV Award For Best Canadian Feature Film:
Rodrigue Jean's "Lost Song."

The jury described the film as "constantly surprising," and "profound, masterful and devastatingly sad." The award carries a cash prize of $30,000. A special citation went to Atom Egoyan's "Adoration."

CityTV Award For Best Canadian First Feature Film:
Marie-Helene Cousineau and Madeline Piujug Ivalu's "Before Tomorrow."

The jury notes: "for its arresting beauty, its humanist, innovative storytelling and its artistic integrity in capturing the narrative of a people through an intimate tale." The award carries a cash prize of $15,000. A special citation goes to Lyne Charlebois' "Borderline."

Both the Canadian First Feature and Feature awards were selected by a jury of film industry professionals, consisting of filmmaker Ann Marie Fleming, filmmaker and actor Sarah Polley, programmer for the Locarno Film Festival Vincenzo Bugno, and producer Michael Burns.

Diesel Discovery Award:
Steve McQueen's "Hunger."

The Festival press corps, which consists of 1000 international media, voted on the Diesel Discovery Award. The award offers a $10,000 cash prize.

"Lymelife" Director Derick Martini (right) accepts the FIPRESCI Prize from jury president Jonathan Rosenbaum (left). Photo by Peter Knegt,

Prizes of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize):
Derick Martini's "Lymelife" (Discovery section)
Steve Jacobs' "Disgrace" (Special Presentations section)

The Festival welcomed an international FIPRESCI jury for the 17th consecutive year. This year's jury was expanded and considered eligible films in the Discovery and Special Presentation programmes. The jury members consist of jury president Jonathan Rosenbaum (USA), Nick Roddick ( United Kingdom ), Elie Castiel ( Canada ), Ranjita Biswas ( India ), Kim Linekin ( Canada ) and Pablo Scholz ( Argentina ).

Award For Best Canadian Short Film:
"Chris Chong Chan Fui's "Block B.

The jury notes: "simple, graphic, hypnotic - this is an achievement of bringing cinema to its bare essentials." The short film jury members are filmmakers Louise Archambault and Min Sook Lee, and Rotterdam International Film Festival programmer Peter van Hoof. The award offers a $10,000 cash prize and is supported by the National Film Board of Canada. A special citation went to Denis Villeneuve's "Next Floor."

Get the latest from the Toronto International Film Festival in indieWIRE's special section.

This article is related to: Features, Festival Dispatch







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