By William Wolf

TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2006 (I)  Send This Review to a Friend

Although the Toronto International Film Festival isn’t competitive in the sense that the Cannes, Venice and Berlin festivals are, certain awards of recognition are made. Interestingly, they often elevate films that are shown without the hoopla involving the much-more publicized films showcased during the 10-day binge that dazzles viewers. This year, 352 films where screened during the Sept. 7-16 festival period, also jam-packed with press conferences, parties and crowds gathered outside the major hotels in the hope of spotting celebrities.

One of the most popular prizes is the People’s Choice Award because it results from ballots cast by audience members after they attend the various screenings. This year’s People’s Choice crown went to the American film “Bella,” set in New York City and directed by Alejandro Gomez. The first runner-up, receiving honorable mention, was Patrice Leconte’s French film, “My Best Friend,” and the second runner-up designation went to the documentary “Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing,” a documentary directed by Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck about the career of the singing group that stirred controversy when one of its members said that President George Bush made her ashamed to be from Texas.

The Swarkovki Cultural Innovation Award, given for the first time, went to “A Man’s Fear of God,” a Turkish/German production, about a man whose religious beliefs are tested. Joachim Trier’s “Reprise,” a film from Norway, took the Diesel Discovery Award, voted on by members of the press attending the festival. This year the press corps totaled 900.

The Prize of the International Critics (FIPRESCI PRIZE) was given Gabriel Range’s controversial mock documentary “Death of a President,” a film from the United Kingdom that imagines the assassination of George W. Bush and its aftermath.

Other prizes:

CityTV Award for Best Canadian First Feature to “Sur La Trace D’Igor Rizzi,” starring Jean-Marc Thomas as an ex-soccer player who emigrates from France to Montreal and eventually becomes a hitman.

Toronto-City Award for Best Canadian Feature film to “Manufactured Landscapes,” Jennifer Baichwal’s documentary portrait of Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky.

Short Cuts Canada Award to Maxime Giroux for his short film “Les Jours” dealing with loss after a tragic death.


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