Director Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” took home the Toronto International Film Festival’s 2019 Audience Award on Sunday, with Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” and Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” claiming the runner-up prizes.
The TIFF People’s Choice Award has, in recent years, presaged an eventual Best Picture Academy Award nominee — and, in some cases, a winner. Last year’s prize went to Best Picture winner “Green Book,” and previous winners include “La La Land,” “12 Years a Slave,” “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” “Room,” and “Silver Linings Playbook.”
Critics were not in love with “Jojo Rabbit,” as the film currently sits with a score of 52 on Metacritic. This is an arthouse movie, not a destined-for-the-mainstream global phenomenon, which is anomaly in TIFF Grolsch People’s Choice Award history.
“We saw firsthand how Toronto International Film Festival audiences responded to ‘Jojo Rabbit.’ We’re incredibly proud of this film, Taika, and the entire filmmaking team, and the message that love can rise above evil — we can’t wait to introduce ‘Jojo Rabbit to the rest of the world!” said Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula, Chairmen of Fox Searchlight Pictures, in a statement to IndieWire.
“Thank you to the Toronto International Film Festival audiences for this tremendous honor. ‘Jojo Rabbit’ is a story of tolerance and understanding set in a time that lacked both, and I hope in making this film we can remind ourselves that it’s still possible to connect with each other even under the most chaotic of circumstances — no matter what age, religion, race or gender. It was an incredible experience making this film and I’m happy the world had the opportunity to see it for the first time at TIFF,” said Taika Waititi.
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From IndieWire critic Eric Kohn’s review: “‘Jojo Rabbit’ has the best intentions and a very confused way of showing them. Taika Waititi’s sunny fairytale focuses on ostracized Hitler Youth Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) and the buffoonish Fuhrer (Waititi in an off-kilter mustache) who serves as the boy’s imaginary friend, which is a calculated risk regardless of the execution. An upbeat challenge to the resurgence of hate groups around the world, the studio production might be the sweetest provocation in film history, and it’s certainly an ambitious juggling act worthy of admiration.”
Other winners emerged out of TIFF on Sunday. The Grolsch People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award went to Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s “The Platform.” The first runner-up was Andrew Patterson’s “The Vast of Night.” The second runner-up was Jeff Barnaby’s “Blood Quantum.” The Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award went to “The Cave,” directed by Feras Fayyad. The first runner-up is Garin Hovannisian’s “I Am Not Alone.” The second runner-up is Bryce Dallas Howard’s “Dads.”
The IWC Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Short Film went to Chloé Robichaud for Delphine. The IWC Short Cuts Award for Best Short Film went to Lasse Linder for All Cats Are Grey in the Dark. The City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film went to Matthew Rankin’s “The Twentieth Century,” which was scooped up by Oscilloscope Laboratories. The Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film went to Sophie Deraspe’s “Antigone.”