Awards were presented today at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, with Gavin Hood's "Tsotsi" winning the event's People's Choice Award voted by attendees of the festival. Juried prizes were presented to a number of Canadian films, with groups of critics and journalists again awarding prizes as well. The 30th Toronto festival officially closes tonight with a gala screening of David J. Burke's "Edison", followed by the annual closing night party.
Hood's "Tsotsi", based on Athol Fugard's novel, is described by the festival as tracing "six days in the lonely, violent life of Tsotsi (meaning 'thug'), a ruthless, young gang leader." The film recently won two awards at the Edinburgh Film Festival, nabbing the audience prize and an award for best new British feature.
"Let's just start by saying thank you to the audiences," Hood beamed as he received his trophy here today. Later, in remarks directed at Robbie Little who is selling the film, he added, "Man, I hope this helps you now!"
The Toronto City Award for Best Canadian Feature (a $30,000 cash award) this year went to Jean-Marc Vallée's "C.R.A.Z.Y." The film is described by fest organizers as a "wildly entertaining film (that) is an ambitious and magical cinematic homage to the pop-culture-saturated middle class of the seventies."
The annual Discovery Award (a $15,000 cash award), selected by the large international press corps, was presented to Sarah Watt's "Look Both Ways." In the words of the festival, "the film chronicles the lives of a collection of characters over an uncomfortably hot weekend who are confronting various crises in the wake of a train accident."
Toronto International Film Festival Group CEO Piers Handling and festival co-director Noah Cowan presented the prizes before a ballroom of attendees gathered at the Hilton Hotel here this afternoon.
Reflecting on the increasingly important international event, Handling offered a few comments as the festival draws to a close. "I came to this festival for the first one [and] there was a wonderful spirit in the city at that time," he said. "I hope 30 years later that we have kept to the spirit of the founders." Handling emphasized that aside from the large influx of international journalists and film industry, the festival remains focused on filmmakers and attendees, adding "That link between the filmmakers and the audience is finally what this film festival is all about."
The complete list of winners follows:
People's Choice Award: "Tsotsi", directed by Gavin Hood (UK/South Africa)
Discovery Award: "Look Both Ways", directed by Sarah Watts (Australia)
Toronto City Award for Best Canadian Feature: "C.R.A.Z.Y.", directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
City TV Award for Best Canadian First Feature: (tie)
"Familia", directed by Louise Archambault
"The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico", directed by Michael Mabbott
Bravo!FACT Short Cuts Canada Award: "Big Girl", directed by Renuka Jeyapalan
honorable mention: "There's A Flower In My Pedal", directed by Andrea Dorfman
FIPRESCI Award: "Sa-Kwa", directed by Kang Yi-Kwan (South Korea)