In a nice boost for its increasing awards season profile 12 Years A Slave has just won the People’s Choice Audience award from the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. (Full winners below.) It’s a good omen for Oscar as such recent Best Picture winners as The King’s Speech, Slumdog Millionaire, American Beauty, and Chariots Of Fire were also winners that went on to take the Oscar for Best Pic. Several nominees have also been the recipient of the Toronto honor including last year’s Silver Linings Playbook and Precious among many others. Fox Searchlight will begin a slow rollout of Slave on October 18. The film, which debuted at Telluride Film Festival to loud buzz has generated much Oscar talk for director Steve McQueen, star Chiwetel Ejiofor and supporting players Michael Fassbender and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o. Tree Of Life team Brad Pitt (who has a supporting role), Dede Gardner and Bill Pohlad are among the producers. Runners-up for the People’s Choice were Philomena and Prisoners.
The Square took the People’s Choice for Documentary while Why Don’t You Play In Hell won for Midnight Madness section and When Jews Were Funny took the Best Canadian Feature honor. Ida won the International Critics Prize (Fipresci).
The fest closed Saturday night with the World Premiere of Life Of Crime, a very black comedy based on Elmore Leonard‘s novel The Switch. The film stars Jennifer Aniston in a change of pace role as an upper class wife who is kidnapped for ransom by an inept group of criminals led by John Hawkes. Tim Robbins plays her philandering husband who refuses to pay to win her freedom. The film is directed by Daniel Schecter. Leonard, who died last month at the age of 87, has an Executive Producer credit representing the last film version of his many works in which he was involved. In remarks before the film rolled at the Roy Thomson Hall (where one observer said it “played through the roof”) Schecter spoke about Leonard. “Elmore has always been my storytelling hero and I hope this film can be a worthy tribute to him. One of my many dreams has always been to adapt one of his great novels into a feature… If I can leave you guys with one thing, please go out and buy one of his books. And if you’re not hooked after one chapter, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle,” he said.
Aniston attended along with other cast members including Will Forte, Robbins and Mark Boone Junior. Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions bought the film at Toronto earlier this week. I saw it last Sunday at a press and buyer’s screening and found it, per usual for most Leonard film adaptations, to be highly entertaining and gritty fun. It’s no surprise it was picked up quickly.
Here are the full Toronto winners:
YouTube Award for Best Canadian Short Film
Noah, Walter Woodman and Patrick Cederberg
Honourable mentions: Kevan Funke’s Yellowhead and Fraser Munden and Neil Rathbone’s The Chaperone 3D
City of Toronto + Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film
When Jews Were Funny, Alan Zweig
Special jury citation: Jennifer Podemski, Cara Gee and Shay Eyre
Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film
Asphalt Watches, Shayne Ehman and Seth Scriver
Honourable mention: Afflicted
Prize of the International Critics (FIPRESCI) for Special Presentations
Ida, Pawel Pawlikowski
Prize of the International Critics (FIPRESCI) for the Discovery programme
The Amazing Catfish, Claudia Sainte-Luce
BlackBerry People’s Choice Award
12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen
Runner up: Philomena, Stephen Frears
Second runner up: Prisoners, Denise Villeneuve
BlackBerry People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (Jigoku de Naze Warui), Sion Sono
Runner Up: Oculus, Mike Flanagan
Second runner up: Witching & Bitching, Alex de la Iglesias
BlackBerry People’s Choice Documentary Award
The Square, Jehane Noujaim
Runner Up: Hi-Ho Mistahey!, Alanis Obomsawin
Second runner-up: Beyond the Edge, Leanne Pooley
NETPAC Award for World or International Asian Film Premiere
Qissa, Anup Singh
Grolsch Film Works Discovery Award
All the Wrong Reasons, Gia Milani
RBC Emerging Filmmakers Competition
Requiem for a Robot, Christoph Rainer
Honourable mention: Tales of Santa Fe by Dan Popa and Destroyer by Kevan Funk
Awards Columnist Pete Hammond - tip him here.