20 September, 2010
by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is unique among A-list film festivals because it still is a non-competitive event. Unlike its other stellar events, including Cannes, Berlin, Venice, San Sebastian and Sundance, TIFF does not bother with the formality of competition juries and all the drama that surrounds their sometimes dubious choices. Instead, the audience determnes the winners, specially of the Cadillac People's Choice Awards, which were announced on Sunday, the final day of TIFF's 11-day film marathon.
For a festival that is so attuned to the vagaries of the film business, a prize conferred by contented audience members is more of a coup, since they speak to potential box office returns and end-of-year critical prizes. This year's Cadillac People's Choice winner will certainly make this prediction a reality.
The Cadillac People's Choice Award was won by THE KING'S SPEECH, a UK/Australia co-production directed by Tom Hooper. The film's two leads, Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, are the early favorites for Golden Globe and Oscar recognition. The film tells the story of King George VI, who reluctantly assumes the throne in 1937 following the abdication of his brother, despite a stuttering problem that makes him a pariah in a world invaded by radio. When he engages the helpof an unorthodox Australian speech therapist, the lines of class and privilege are crossed....a harbinger of the diluted role of the monarch in 20th century democratic England. The Award includes a $15,000 cash prize. Runner up was FIRST GRADER, another UK film directed by Justin Chadwick, marking this as a strong cinema year for England.
The Cadillac People's Choice Midnight Madness Award which goes to a film in the Festival's (rather gory) genre program, was won by STAKE LAND, a vampire saga by American indie director Jim Mickle. The ghoulish tale is set in the aftermath of a vampire epidemic, when a teen is taken in by a grizzled vampire hunter on a road trip through a post-apocalyptic America.
The Cadillac People’s Choice Documentary Award stayed local with the Canadian film FORCE OF NATURE: THE DAVID SUZUKI MOVIE by director Sturla Gunnarsson. The film is a loving portrait of David Suzuki, a passionate environmentalist who still has the fire to spread his message at the age of 75.
Following eleven days and more than three hundred films, the Cadillac People’s Choice Awards definitely gives a tremendous boost to the films acknowledged and makes them, if not Oscar contenders, then at least staples of the film festival circuit over the upcoming months. For more information on the Festival, visit: www.tiff.net