The 2015 Toronto International Film Festival today announced award winners, and Room (pictured above) by Lenny Abrahamson is the winner of the Grolsch People’s Choice Award. Told through the eyes of five-year-old-Jack, Room is a thrilling and emotional tale that celebrates the resilience and power of the human spirit. To Jack, the Room is the world…it’s where he was born, where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. But while it’s home to Jack, to Ma it’s a prison. Through her fierce love for her son, Ma has managed to create a childhood for him in their 10-by-10-foot space. But as Jack’s curiosity is building alongside Ma’s own desperation — she knows that Room cannot contain either indefinitely. The second runner up is Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight. The first runner up is Pan Nalin’s Angry Indian Goddesses.
The Grolsch People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award went to Ilya Naishuller for Hardcore. Resurrected with no recollection of his past, a cyborg named Henry and his ally Jimmy must fight through the streets of Moscow in pursuit of Henry’s kidnapped wife, in the world’s first action-adventure film to be entirely shot from the first person perspective. The second runner up is Jeremy Saulnier for Green Room. The first runner up is Todd Strauss-Schulson for The Final Girls.
The Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award went to Evgeny Afineevsky for Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom. Chronicling events that unfolded over 93 days in 2013 and 2014, the film witnesses the formation of a new civil rights movement in Ukraine. What started as peaceful student demonstrations supporting European integration morphed into a full-fledged violent revolution calling for the resignation of the nation’s president. The second runner up is Brian D. Johnson’s Al Purdy Was Here. The first runner up is Avi Lewis’s This Changes Everything.
SHORTS CUTS AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN SHORT FILM
The Shorts Cuts Award for Best Canadian Short Film went to Patrice Laliberté for Overpass. The jury remarked, “For its seductive, elliptical and graceful manner of exploring the nature of grief and the unconventional ways that families react to loss, all of which was elevated by the performance of Téo Vachon Sincennes.”
The jury gave an honorable mention to Sol Friedman’s Bacon & God’s Wrath, “For its whimsical and wry examination of religious conviction and intellectual conversion, and the acknowledgment that courage and transformation can be achieved at any age and involve any manner of pork by-product.”
SHORT CUTS AWARD FOR BEST SHORT FILM
The Short Cuts Award for Best Short Film goes to Maïmouna Doucouré’s Maman(s). The jury remarked, “For its daring and revelatory exploration of a family’s dysfunction and upheaval through the eyes of a child and its refusal to cast characters as villains but rather as complex, and highly conflicted, human beings the jury selects Maman(s). The jury also wanted to acknowledge the vulnerable, defiant performance of the gifted Sokhna Diallo.”
The jury gave an honorable mention to Fyzal Boulifa’s Rate Me, “For its blithely unconventional approach to new media and new mores, and a sense of humor as wry as it was rude.”
CITY OF TORONTO AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN FIRST FEATURE FILM
The City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film goes to for Andrew Cividino’s Sleeping Giant. The jury remarked, “For its sophisticated plotting, indelible characters and insightful critique of masculinity through a fateful rite of passage on the north shore of Lake Superior, the jury selects Sleeping Giant.”
CANADA GOOSE AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN FEATURE FILM
The Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film goes to Stephen Dunn’s Closet Monster. The jury remarked, “For its confidence and invention in tackling the pain and yearning of the first love and coming of age of a young gay man in Newfoundland, the jury recognizes the remarkable artistry and vision of first-time feature director Stephen Dunn for Closet Monster.” This award carries a cash prize of $30,000 and a custom award, sponsored by Canada Goose.
The jury gave an honorable mention to Philippe Falardeau’s My Internship in Canada, “For its dexterous intelligence and cinematic wit.”
THE PRIZES OF THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF FILM CRITICS (FIPRESCI PRIZES)
Prize of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) for the Discovery program is awarded to Marko Škop for Eva Nová. The jury remarked, “For exploring themes of humanity, dignity, addiction and redemption in a naturalistic, deceptively simple and non-exploitative manner, FIPRESCI is pleased to present the prize in the Discovery program to Marko Škop’s haunting debut feature Eva Nová.”
Prize of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) for Special Presentations is awarded to Jonás Cuarón’s Desierto. The jury remarked, “For using pure cinema to create a strong physical sensation of being trapped in a vast space and hunted down by hatred in its most primal form, FIPRESCI presents the prize in the Special Presentations program to Desierto by Jonás Cuarón.”
As selected by a jury from the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema for the 4th consecutive year, the NETPAC Award for World or International Asian Film Premiere goes to Sion Sono for The Whispering Star. The jury remarked, “For its poetic, moving and brave attempt to express a grief that’s inexpressible, combining all too real elements with lo-fi sci-fi, the NETPAC jury awards the prize to The Whispering Star.”
TORONTO PLATFORM PRIZE
This is the inaugural year for Platform, the Festival’s new juried program that champions director’s cinema from around the world. The Festival awarded the first ever Toronto Platform Prize to Alan Zweig for HURT. The jury remarked, “Following a long discussion, the jury has chosen unanimously to give the Platform prize to HURT. It is a film that explores the complexity and fragility of human destiny in a country that much of the world sees as a paradise.”
The jury gave honorable mentions to Gabriel Mascaro’s Neon Bull, He Ping’s The Promised Land, and Pablo Trapero’s The Clan.
DROPBOX DISCOVERY PROGRAMME FILMMAKERS AWARD
Earlier in the Festival, the winner of the Dropbox Discovery Program Filmmakers Award was announced. The award went to Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah whose film, Black, was presented as part of the Discovery program.