By William Wolf

TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL AWARDS 2009  Send This Review to a Friend

All during the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) one kept hearing a buzz about how deeply moving the film “Precious” is. So it came as no surprise that “Precious,” a film about a teenager’s struggles against the battering life had dealt her, copped the Festival’s Audience Award. At various pubic screenings, filmgoers are asked to fill out forms voting for their favorites, which many do conscientiously.

“Precious,” based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire, has Oprah Winfrey as its executive producer and stars Gabourey Sidibe in a potentially award-winning performance. There could be honors too for Mo’Nique, who plays the mother of Precious.

The Toronto Festival is not structured like other festivals with respect to giving out awards in typical categories. But there is a battery of special honors to recognize outstanding achievements. There were two additional audience awards this year. A documentary award went to “The Topp Twins,” about Jools and Lynda Topp, New Zealand lesbian singing twins, and to an Australian selection from the Midnight Madness program, the horror film “The Loved Ones.”

The festival understandably makes a point of spotlighting Canadian films, and the award for Best Canadian Feature went to “Cairo Time,” directed by Ruba Nadda and starring Patricia Clarkson. “Danse Macabre,” directed by Constant van Hoeven was honored as Best Canadian Short Subject. “The Wild Hunt,” directed by Alexandre Franchi was chosen Best Canadian First Feature.

The International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) weighs in with its choices made by member critics. A Special Presentations Prize went to “Hadewijch,” directed by the French Bruno Dumont, and the organization’s Discovery Prize was given to “The Man Beyond the Bridge,” by Indian director Laxmikant Shetgaonkar.

Choosing films to honor from the festival is a major challenge, given the quantity—more than 350 films from around the world—shown in the popular 10-day movie marathon.


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