Sunday, September 20, 2015

Toronto International Film Festival announces award winners for 2015

The Toronto International Film Festival® today announced award winners from the 40th Festival, which wraps up this evening.


The short film awards below were selected by a jury comprised of the head of the shorts program and creations unit at Canal+ France, Pascale Faure, film writer John Anderson (The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times), and actor Rizwan Manji (Outsourced, The Wolf of Wall Street).

The Shorts Cuts Award for Best Canadian Short Film goes to Patrice Laliberté for Overpass. The jury remarked, “For its seductive, elliptical and graceful manner of exploring the nature of grief and the unconventional ways that families react to loss, all of which was elevated by the performance of Téo Vachon Sincennes.” The award offers a $10,000 cash prize.

The jury gave an honourable mention to Sol Friedman’s Bacon & God’s Wrath, “For its whimsical and wry examination of religious conviction and intellectual conversion, and the acknowledgment that courage and transformation can be achieved at any age and involve any manner of pork by-product.”

The Short Cuts Award for Best Short Film goes to Maïmouna Doucouré’s Maman(s). The jury remarked, “For its daring and revelatory exploration of a family's dysfunction and upheaval through the eyes of a child and its refusal to cast characters as villains but rather as complex, and highly conflicted, human beings the jury selects Maman(s). The jury also wanted to acknowledge the vulnerable, defiant performance of the gifted Sokhna Diallo.” The award offers a $10,000 cash prize.

The jury gave an honourable mention to Fyzal Boulifa’s Rate Me, “For its blithely unconventional approach to new media and new mores, and a sense of humour as wry as it was rude.”

The Canadian awards below were selected by a jury comprised of filmmaker Don McKellar (The Grand Seduction), Jacqueline Lyanga (Director of AFI Fest), and Ilda Santiago (Programming and Executive Director of Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival).

The City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film goes to for Andrew Cividino’s Sleeping Giant. The jury remarked, “For its sophisticated plotting, indelible characters and insightful critique of masculinity through a fateful rite of passage on the north shore of Lake Superior, the jury selects Sleeping Giant.” This award carries a cash prize of $15,000, made possible by the City of Toronto.

The Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film goes to Stephen Dunn’s Closet Monster. The jury remarked, “For its confidence and invention in tackling the pain and yearning of the first love and coming of age of a young gay man in Newfoundland, the jury recognizes the remarkable artistry and vision of first-time feature director Stephen Dunn for Closet Monster.” This award carries a cash prize of $30,000 and a custom award, sponsored by Canada Goose.

The jury gave an honourable mention to Philippe Falardeau’s My Internship in Canada, “For its dexterous intelligence and cinematic wit.”

The Festival welcomed an international FIPRESCI jury for the 24th year. The jury members composed of jury president Engin Ertan (Turkey), Chris Alexander (Canada), Francisco Ferreira (Portugal), Kerstin Gezelius (Sweden), Pierre Pageau (Canada), and Alissa Simon (USA).

Prize of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) for the Discovery programme is awarded to Marko Škop for Eva Nová. The jury remarked, “For exploring themes of humanity, dignity, addiction and redemption in a naturalistic, deceptively simple and non-exploitative manner, FIPRESCI is pleased to present the prize in the Discovery programme to Marko Škop's haunting debut feature Eva Nová.”

Prize of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) for Special Presentations is awarded to Jonás Cuarón’s Desierto. The jury remarked, "For using pure cinema to create a strong physical sensation of being trapped in a vast space and hunted down by hatred in its most primal form, FIPRESCI presents the prize in the Special Presentations programme to Desierto by Jonás Cuarón."

As selected by a jury from the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema for the 4th consecutive year, the NETPAC Award for World or International Asian Film Premiere goes to Sion Sono for The Whispering Star. Jury members include jury chairperson Anne Misawa (USA), Heather Keung (Canada), and Nashen Moodley (Australia). The jury remarked, “For its poetic, moving and brave attempt to express a grief that's inexpressible, combining all too real elements with lo-fi sci-fi, the NETPAC jury awards the prize to The Whispering Star.”

This is the inaugural year for Platform, the Festival’s new juried programme that champions director’s cinema from around the world. The Festival welcomed an international jury composed of acclaimed filmmakers Jia Zhang-ke, Claire Denis and Agnieszka Holland, who awarded the first ever Toronto Platform Prize to Alan Zweig for Hurt. The jury remarked, "Following a long discussion, the jury has chosen unanimously to give the Platform prize to Hurt. It is a film that explores the complexity and fragility of human destiny in a country that much of the world sees as a paradise." The award offers a $25,000 cash prize and a custom award.

The jury gave honourable mentions to Gabriel Mascaro’s Neon Bull, He Ping’s The Promised Land, and Pablo Trapero’s The Clan.

This year marked the 38th year that Toronto audiences were able to cast a ballot for their favourite Festival film for the Grolsch People’s Choice Award. This year’s award goes to Lenny Abrahamson for Room. Told through the eyes of five-year-old-Jack, Room is a thrilling and emotional tale that celebrates the resilience and power of the human spirit. To Jack, the Room is the world... it's where he was born, where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. But while it's home to Jack, to Ma it's a prison.

Through her fierce love for her son, Ma has managed to create a childhood for him in their 10-by-10-foot space. But as Jack's curiosity is building alongside Ma's own desperation — she knows that Room cannot contain either indefinitely. The award offers a $15,000 cash prize and custom award, sponsored by Grolsch. The second runner up is Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight. The first runner up is Pan Nalin’s Angry Indian Goddesses.

The Festival presents a free screening of the award-winning film Room tonight. The screening takes place at 8 p.m. at Roy Thomson Hall. Tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 6 p.m. at Roy Thomson Hall.

The Grolsch People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award goes to Ilya Naishuller for Hardcore. Resurrected with no recollection of his past, a cyborg named Henry and his ally Jimmy must fight through the streets of Moscow in pursuit of Henry’s kidnapped wife, in the world’s first action-adventure film to be entirely shot from the first person perspective. The second runner up is Jeremy Saulnier for Green Room. The first runner up is Todd Strauss-Schulson for The Final Girls.

The Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award goes to Evgeny Afineevsky for Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight For Freedom. Chronicling events that unfolded over 93 days in 2013 and 2014, the film witnesses the formation of a new civil rights movement in Ukraine. What started as peaceful student demonstrations supporting European integration morphed into a full-fledged violent revolution calling for the resignation of the nation’s president. The second runner up is Brian D. Johnson’s Al Purdy Was Here. The first runner up is Avi Lewis’s This Changes Everything.

Earlier in the Festival, the winner of the Dropbox Discovery Programme Filmmakers Award was announced. The award went to Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah whose film, Black, was presented as part of the Discovery programme. The award carries a $5,000 cash prize along with free Dropbox for Business accounts.


The 40th Toronto International Film Festival® comes to a close with record highs for industry attendance, including more than 2,100 buyers for a 9% increase over last year. The Festival saw strong film sales: among the highlights was the sale of the Midnight Madness sci-fi action movie Hardcore, which sold to STX for a reported $10 million. To date, 36 films were sold during the Festival to multiple territories. There were substantial U.S. sales for Anomalisa (Paramount), Eye in the Sky (Bleecker Street), Forsaken (Momentum Pictures), Into the Forest (A24), ma ma (Oscilloscope), Mr. Right (Focus), The Program (Momentum) and Sunset Song (Magnolia). Platform titles Neon Bull (Kino Lorber) and Land of Mine (Sony Pictures Classics) both claimed U.S. deals, while Primetime crime series Trapped sold to The Weinstein Company.

The Festival’s Industry Office saw the number of registered delegates increase by 7% over 2014 with 5,450 delegates from 80 countries. The territories with the highest growth in registrants were Africa (33%), Europe (25%), and Australia/New Zealand (13%). Industry initiatives introduced this year included the Digital Screening Library and a live feed of popular Conference sessions direct to the Industry Centre.

“It’s been an exciting year for sales with significant deals being made at the Festival. It’s a major draw for the industry and a hub for buyers from around the world,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival. “Each year the TIFF Industry Office ensures that industry professionals who attend the Festival are provided with the opportunities, tools and information they need to successfully network and further their business, as well as creative goals. It’s a key component that drives the increase in numbers we see year after year.”

“Toronto’s enthusiastic audiences turned out for a cluster of high-profile titles, creating hype for Awards season and bolstering interest from international buyers,” said Kathleen Drumm, Director of TIFF’s Industry Office. “There were sales for the strong lineup of independent films showcased at the Festival along with substantial pre-sales.”

U.S. and international sales confirmed to date include: 3000 Nights, Angry Indian Goddesses, Anomalisa, The Ardennes, Baskin, Dheepan, Eye in the Sky, Families, Green Room, Hardcore, I Smile Back, In the Room, Ixcanul, Land of Mine, Last Cab to Darwin, Les Cowboys, Let Them Come, ma ma, Men & Chicken, Mr. Right, The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Neon Bull, The Other Side, Our Last Tango, The Program, Summertime, Sunset Song, Trapped, Truman, Truth, Un plus une and The Wave. Canadian films sold during the Festival include: February, Forsaken, Into the Forest and Sleeping Giant.

The 2015 Industry Conference delivered 53 sessions and 213 speakers from September 10 to 17. Over the course of the seven-day conference, industry professionals heard from cinematic masters, creative innovators and business visionaries. Notable presenters included Wendy Calhoun, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Stephen Frears, Asif Kapadia, Jia Zhang-ke, Mike Goodridge, Gigi Pritzker and Nicolas Chartier.

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About TIFF
TIFF is a charitable cultural organization whose mission is to transform the way people see the world, through film. An international leader in film culture, TIFF projects include the annual Toronto International Film Festival in September; TIFF Bell Lightbox, which features five cinemas, major exhibitions, and learning and entertainment facilities; and innovative national distribution program Film Circuit. The organization generates an annual economic impact of $189 million CAD. TIFF Bell Lightbox is generously supported by contributors including Founding Sponsor Bell, the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada, the City of Toronto, the Reitman family (Ivan Reitman, Agi Mandel and Susan Michaels), The Daniels Corporation and RBC. For more information, visit

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