Current global unrest and tensions swayed a discerning Toronto film festival audience as they voted overwhelmingly for Taika Waititi’s ‘Jojo Rabbit’, a stinging satire on fascism in the 21st century, for its People’s Choice Award.
‘Jojo Rabbit’, which had its world premiere at the 44th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) held during September 5-15, tells the story of a young German boy and his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler. Set in Second World War Germany, ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ director Waititi’s new film has a riotous cast, including Scarlett Johansson, Alfie Allen, Waititi himself, and Sam Rockwell, who won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar last year for ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri’.
The Toronto festival’s Grolsch People’s Choice Award, its top prize awarded by the audience, is considered a predictor of the Best Picture Oscar. Among the People’s Choice Award winners which have gone on to win the Best Picture Oscar include ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ (2009), ‘King’s Speech’ (2011), and ’12 Years a Slave’ (2014).
American filmmaker Noah Baumbach’s ‘Marriage Story’ was adjudged the First Runner-Up and this year’s Palme d’Or-winner ‘Parasite’ by South Korean director Bong Joon-ho was Second Runner-Up.
There were four Indian films in TIFF’s official selection this year. In 2015, ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’ directed by Pan Nalin, was adjudged the First Runner-Up of Grolsch People’s Choice Award.
This year marked the 42nd year that Toronto audiences were able to cast a ballot for their favourite festival film for the Grolsch People’s Choice Award. The top prize carries a purse of 15,000 Canadian dollars (approximately Rs 8 lakh).
Syrian documentary, ‘The Cave’, by Feras Fayyad, about a team of women doctors saving lives in an underground hospital in civil war-ridden Syria, won the Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award.
Lebanese film ‘1982’, a love story set in the backdrop of Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, by Oualid Mouaness won the Best Asian Cinema award. The award is given by the Network for the Promotion of Asian Pacific Cinema (NETPAC). Indian director Shonali Bose’s ‘Margarita, with a Straw’ had won the NETPAC Best Asian Cinema award in 2014. (UNI)
The jury cited ‘1982’, the debut film of Mouaness, for its “adventurous, imaginative style and subtle, confident filmmaking, bravely juxtaposing and framing the universal innocence and charm of youth within harrowing historical context”.
The Best Short Film award went to the Swiss entry, ‘All Cats Are Grey in the Dark’ by Lasse Linder, an intimate study of one man’s ardent longing to expand his multi-species household. “This unexpectedly touching, exceptionally composed, and tender tale of a man’s love for his cats (along with the best employed use of Alexa) surprised the jury with its observational filmmaking and memorable feline performances,” the citation said. The IWC Short Cuts Award for Best Short Film carries a purse of 10,000 Candian dollars (approximately Rs 540,000).
“TIFF 2019 was a stellar year,” said festival co-head and artistic director Cameeron Bailey and and Joana Vicente, its co-head and executive director. “The films and talent featured in this year’s festival have left us inspired, awestruck, and excited for the future of cinema,” they added.
The 44th Toronto International Film Festival, which began on September 5, concluded last night with the closing film, ‘Radioactive’, about the life and work of twice Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie in a male-dominated scientific community, directed by Iranian-born director Marjane Satrapi.
The 45th edition of TIFF will be held during September 10-20 next year.