The Toronto International Film Festival, 2000 edition, wrapped on Sunday,
September 17th with the annual Awards Brunch at the Four Seasons Hotel.
Incredibly, the public box office tally for a mere 10 days amounted
to $1.7 million Canadian.
|The People's Choice
BENSON & HEDGES FILM PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD:
Yes, Toronto still honors unfashionable sponsorships from Big Tobacco.
This year, Festival audiences were sufficiently overwhelmed by Ang Lee's
instant classic "CROUCHING
TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON " to award it the People's Choice
Award. Does this award signify a potential Oscar blitz for Lee? I have
serious doubts that a martial arts fantasy will ever receive anything
more than a technical award from the stodgy ol' Academy, and a quick
look at past People's Choice Award recipients reveals that the TIFF
is hit and miss when it comes to mirroring future Best Picture winners.
Only "American Beauty" and "Chariots Of Fire", previous
People's Choice winners, have gone on to win the Oscar for Best Picture,
although "Shine", "Life Is Beautiful", "Antonia's
Line", and "Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown"
have won the golden statue in other categories (the TIFF seems to be
a better barometer of "Best Foreign Language Film" more than
Second prize went to Rob Sitch's "THE
DISH". I thought Sitch's feature might well have taken
first, since it received one of the most enthusiastic standing ovations
I've ever witnessed at a TIFF premiere. Tied for third place were Paul
Cox's "INNOCENCE" and Stephen Daldry's "BILLY
THE VOLKSWAGEN DISCOVERY AWARD:
|I won't tell you how I voted, but suffice to say, I was more than
pleased with the People's Choice announcement <g>.
The press votes for this award, and this year, two films tied for first
place. "GEORGE WASHINGTON", David Gordon Green's look
at life in the American South; and Baltasar Kormákur's "101
REYKJAVÍK", about sexual confusion in contemporary Iceland.
A tie occurred in second place as well: Marziyeh Meshkini's "THE
DAY I BECAME A WOMAN", a look at the fate of Iranian women
imprisoned in their own homes; and Yongyooth Thongkonthun's "THE
IRON LADIES", about a championship Thai volleyball team comprised
of transsexuals and transvestites.
For the ninth consecutive year, the Festival offered an international
FIPRESCI foreign press award to a feature having its world premiere
at the Toronto International Film Festival. This year's winner was "the
achingly beautiful" Thailand gangster drama "BANGKOK DANGEROUS"
directed by twins Oxide and Danny Pang.
NFB/ JOHN SPOTTON AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN SHORT FILM
Sponsored by the National Film Board of Canada, this award carries
a cash prize of $2,500 along with $7,500 worth of NFB Filmmakers' Assistance
Program (FAP) benefits to be applied against the costs of a future production.
The award for best Canadian short film went to Michèle Cournoyer
for "LE CHAPEAU", an animated film about a dancer's
childhood memory. Honourable mention was given to Keith Behrman's disfunctional
family drama "ERNEST" (how disfunctional? A 13 year
old boy is audited by this father!).
CITYTV AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN FIRST FEATURE FILM
Sponsored by Toronto-based Citytv, the award carries a cash prize of
$15,000 and is presented to a Canadian filmmaker whose first feature
film is considered exemplary. Philippe Falardeau's "LA MOITIÉ
GAUCHE DU FRIGO" utilized a "mockumentary" approach
in its story of two underemployed thirtysomethings who decide to document
their relationship and lives on video verite.
Honourable mention went to Anthony Couture's "RED DEER",
a character-based ensemble piece set around a boarding house which takes
its cues from the early films of Wim Wenders circa "Paris Texas".
TORONTO/CITY AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN FEATURE FILM
Presented annually at the Toronto International Film Festival and co-sponsored
by The City of Toronto and Citytv, the Toronto/City Award for Best Canadian
Feature Film carries a cash prize of $25,000.
Gary Burns, whose films "The Kitchen Party" and "The
Suburbinators" were past TIFF premieres, was overcome by emotion
when accepting the award for his new film "WAYDOWNTOWN",
a digitally-shot comedy about a group of young people who bet a month's
salary to see who can outlast each other, "Survivor"-meets-"Dawn
Of The Dead" style, while in isolation in a Calgary shopping mall.
Honourable mention went to Denis Villeneuve's "MAELSTRÖM",
a drama about a self-destructive young woman whose life turns around
after a traumatic accident, and to "GINGER
SNAPS" for Karen Walton's "wicked, insightful, and
So there you have it, long overdue and, well...long. The varied venues
have returned to their natural state: Roy Thompson Hall will soon be
hosting the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Isaac Hayes (not, it should
be noted, on the same programme), the Uptown is paying the bills until
the next TIFF by offering a home to Sly Stallone and Mickey Rourke in
"Get Carter" redux (Torontonians are nothing if not charitable),
and Steven Seagal--in town shooting "Exit Wounds" is likely
eyeing DeNiro's favorite table at Sotto, Sotto (from the sidewalk, nose
pressed up against the glass...). I'm still haunted by Cronenberg's
dream of a cinema-induced aging disease, although I believe that the
virus has quite the opposite effect. I discovered several near-masterpieces
in under a week, and saw many directors working in wildly different
genres honour film's relatively recent past but not at the expense of
embracing new technology and trailblazing fresh modes of storytelling.
Not all of these films will find the audiences, much less the distributors,
they deserve, but the fact that they exist at all is enough to keep
the years at bay.
-Robert J. Lewis