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DAILY NEWS: “Crouching Tiger” Takes Toronto Audience Prize; Festival Discovers “George Washington” a

DAILY NEWS: "Crouching Tiger" Takes Toronto Audience Prize; Festival Discovers "George Washington" a

TORONTO 2000: "Crouching Tiger" Takes Toronto Audience Prize; Festival Discovers "George Washington" and "101 Reykjavik"

by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE

(indieWIRE/ 9.18.00) — The Toronto International Film Festival came to a
close on Sunday as Ang Lee‘s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” took the
event’s top prize, the People’s Choice Award. The awards were presented
yesterday during a Sunday brunch at the Four Seasons Hotel. Lee’s film was a
hit with audiences at the Festival, while Rob Sitch, director of the recent
hit, “The Castle,” won the second prize for “The Dish.” Two films tied for
third, Paul Cox‘s “Innocence” and Stephen Daldry‘s “Billy Elliot.” Lee’s “Tiger” is a Sony Pictures Classics release that debuted in Cannes and
screened here as a Gala presentation. It stars Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh
and a stellar performance from young Zhang Ziyi.

The Festival’s Discovery Award, singling out work from the section devoted
to emerging filmmakers went to David Gordon Green, director of the acclaimed
American indie, “George Washington,” who tied for the top prize with
Baltasar Karmakur, director of “101 Reykjavik.”

Gary Burns‘ “waydowntown,” which is closing a deal with domestic distributor Lot 47, nabbed the award for Best Canadian Feature. Burns is a Festival
favorite having been in Toronto with “Kitchen Party” in 1997 and “The

The award brought emotion out of the filmmaker, according to Toronto Star
reporter Pete Howell who provided details to indieWIRE. Burns choked back
tears at the ceremony, but was able to say, “I’ve been really lucky…I’ve
always had a really good time in Toronto.” Howell reported that most other
winners did not attend the brunch.

A Lot 47 rep confirmed Friday that the company has agreed on a deal to
acquire “waydowntown” — final deal points were still being finalized at the
time. The company hosted a dinner Friday night for a select group of
filmmakers, journalists, industry-types and others. Festival Director Piers
even stopped by for a course of the meal.

Previewing comments that he would make at yesterday’s closing brunch,
Handling told indieWIRE’s Anthony Kaufman that next year he hopes to welcome
more European cinema stars. The move would be a reaction to criticism this
year that the Festival showcased too many American celebrities — Richard
, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sally Field and Al Pacino were among the big stars who lured press and paparazzi to Festival red carpets.

On the biz side, no single film galvanized industry attention in Toronto.
Bidding wars, as was seen for Robert Duvall‘s “The Apostle” a few years
back, were nowhere to be found. While some in “the biz” groused about the
lack of fresh dealworthy discoveries, many acknowledged the strength of a
film picked up before the Festival, in Venice, Julian Schnabel‘s “Before
Night Falls
.” The director’s second feature, an artistically rendered bio of
noted Cuban author Reinaldo Arenas, will undoubtedly be recognized come
awards season — actor Javier Bardem would seem a shoe-in for an Oscar
nomination for his portrayal of the late writer. Fine Line will release the
movie later this year and is planning an Oscar push.

The Festival, known as a key launching pad for studios’ Fall Oscar season
campaigns, welcomed a number of films that will jockey for prizes as the
year comes to a close. “Crouching Tiger’s” win will likely jumpstart Sony’s
push, but the movie will not hit theaters until mid-December. The company is
also expected to push its recently-acquired “Pollock,” directed by and
starring Ed Harris. While the movie will open in late December to qualify
for Oscar consideration, it may not make it to a full release until March
according to an insider. Another Festival film that is likely to connect
with mainstream audiences, and potentially garner awards, is Stephen
‘s “Billy Elliot.” Audiences are connecting with the winning
performance by Jamie Bell in theater director Daldry’s debut feature.

A number of Toronto films are not heading to New York for the annual
showcase at Lincoln Center — The New York Film Festival begins on Friday
here in Manhattan as the fall fest circuit continues. [Eugene Hernandez]




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