“Belfast” Wins Audience Award at Toronto International Film Festival


Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press

Posted Saturday, September 18, 2021, 8:16 p.m. EDT

Last updated Saturday, September 18, 2021 at 9:19 p.m. EDT

TORONTO – British star Kenneth Branagh’s “Belfast” directorial endeavor gained momentum in awards season after winning the People’s Choice award at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The family drama inspired by its own childhood in Belfast, Ireland took the spotlight at the TIFF Tribute Awards broadcast Saturday on CTV, which ended 10 days of pandemic-friendly in-person screenings and digital home viewing .

Caitriona Balfe, Jamie Dornan and Judi Dench star in the black and white coming-of-age tale, set amid the turmoil of Northern Ireland in the late 1960s.

Branagh, who is also an esteemed actor with an Oscar nominated tour in “Henry V,” said he was “deeply grateful” for the award chosen by online votes.

“Our first Belfast screening at TIFF was one of the most memorable experiences of my entire career,” the writer-director said in a pre-recorded video of the show, which also featured a live element with masked participants. during an evening with TIFF. co-directors Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey.

“That so many moviegoers are so deeply connected to ‘Belfast’ was absolutely overwhelming for me and Jamie Dornan, and we talked about it for a long time during a memorable night of laughs and tears in your great city.”

Audience Award has been seen as a predictor of Oscar success.

Last year’s winner, the road drama “Nomadland” took home the Oscar for Best Picture.

Other People’s Choice winners for Best Picture included “Green Book”, “12 Years a Slave”, “The King’s Speech” and “Slumdog Millionaire”.

This year’s People’s Choice run had a caveat, however, that films that did not screen on the festival’s digital site were not eligible for the award, including the hottest titles’ Spencer ‘and’ Dune ”.

Organizers said votes for People’s Choice were tallied on Saturday morning.

The first runner-up was the Canadian drama “Scarborough,” directed by Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson and based on the award-winning 2017 novel by Toronto author Catherine Hernandez about the city’s eastern suburbs. The film also won the Shawn Mendes Foundation Changemaker Prize, which comes with a cash prize of $ 10,000.

The second runner-up for People’s Choice was Jane Campion’s Wild West drama “The Power of the Dog,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch as a Montana ranch owner.

Cumberbatch was among the winners of the Tribute Awards, which also announced that “Yuni” by Indonesian filmmaker Kamila Andini was the winner of the Platform Prize, chosen by an international jury led by renowned Riz Ahmed.

Other winners announced by TIFF after Saturday’s broadcast included “Ste. Anne, ”Manitoban Rhayne Vermette’s first feature film, described as an“ examination of the home through places and people ”. It won the Amplify Voices award of $ 10,000 for best Canadian feature film.

“The Rescue” by E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, about a Thai football team trapped in a cave in the summer of 2018, won the People’s Choice Documentary Award.

Launched in 2019, the Tribute Awards honor talent in the film industry and raise funds for TIFF programs throughout the year.

This year’s show also honored actor Jessica Chastain, singer Dionne Warwick, filmmakers Denis Villeneuve, Alanis Obomsawin and Danis Goulet, and cinematographer Ari Wegner.

All of the winners had projects at TIFF and attended in person, with the exception of Wegner.

Stars who appeared on the show included Sigourney Weaver, Shamier Anderson, Kirsten Dunst, Rebecca Ferguson, Gladys Knight, Eva Longoria, David Oyelowo and Kiefer Sutherland.

This year’s festival marked a return to the red carpets with stars, more covered theaters and a larger film offering than last year’s largely digital event.

It still wasn’t a typical TIFF, however, with theaters operating at 50% capacity and COVID-19 protocols including mask wear and proof of a full vaccination or negative COVID-19 test. .

Predicting which movie might win Audience Choice was trickier without the usual audience chatter and lounging in theaters, but strong responses on social media and in theaters helped, Bailey said.

“There was this amplified reaction because people were so happy to be in a movie theater again,” he said in an interview. “But sometimes something goes to that extra level, and there were a few movies this year where it felt like people were just rhapsodic in their reaction and felt something together.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 18, 2021.


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