TORONTO loves the movies. With 70 downtown screens and about a dozen neighbourhood cinemas, weekly film festivals, summertime outdoor screenings, TIFF’s galleries, research library, and cinematheque, and three film studio complexes – the Toronto International Film Festival is the cherry on top.
“Room”, an Irish/Canada co-production, took the top prize this year – The People’s Choice Award. It’s a mother-and-son abduction drama that could well be Oscar material. Based on Canadian author Emma Donoghue‘s novel, the story follows a mother and young son <Vancouver’s Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson> who live in a 10 by 10 foot space. The boy – for the moment anyway – believes this is the entire world. But his curiosity is growing, along with his mother’s desperation.
Top prize in the Platform program for global drama went to TORONTO filmmaker Alan Zweig. He took the $25,000 prize for HURT, a documentary about Steve Fonyo, the cross-country Canadian runner who raised millions of dollars for cancer research 30 years ago, and has fallen on hard times since. Twelve international films competed for this prize. Jurors from China, Holland and France joked there was no chance this was an ‘inside job‘ because “we’re not Canadian!”
“To get this prize from this jury, who are not a bunch of people from TORONTO who know me, they’re filmmakers whose films are exactly the kind of films that I saw here that blew my mind and stretched me, it’s amazing,” Zweig said.
With 3,000 volunteers, large and comfortable cinemas, films from the four corners of the world (39 from Canada this year), open to the public, financial support from three levels of government, and stars galore – after 40 years, TIFF remains a smashing success and a well-earned feather in TORONTO’s cap. We do this very well indeed.