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'Precious' wins TIFF's People's Choice Award

September 19, 2009 | 10:45 am


The 34th Toronto International Film Festival began to officially wind down today with the announcement of the festival's prize winners. "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" won the Cadillac People's Choice Award, voted on by audience ballots and the festival's main prize. Having Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry behind the bracing, tough-sell drama -- both were in Toronto to promote it -- seems to already have had a positive effect for the project, which earlier in the year won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. This latest prize certainly makes it a strong contender for the coming awards season. First runner-up with audiences in Toronto was Bruce Beresford's "Mao's Last Dancer" and second runner-up went to Jean-Pierre Jeunet's "Micmacs."

For the first time, TIFF also gave out audience prizes for documentary feature and the Midnight Madness section. "The Topp Twins," director Leanne Pooley's look at the New Zealand lesbian country-western duo, won the documentary prize, with runner-up going to Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story." The Midnight Madness prize went to the Australian teen horror film "The Loved Ones," directed by Sean Byrne, and runner-up went to Michael and Peter Spierig's "Daybreakers."

The FIPRESCI critics' prize went to Bruno Dumont's "Hadewijch," with the Discovery prize going to the Indian film "The Man Beyond the Bridge," directed by Laxmikant Shetgaonkar. Best Canadian Feature was awarded to Ruba Nadda's "Cairo Time," and Best Canadian First Feature was given to Alexandre Franchi's "The Wild Hunt."

Toronto International Film Festival's complete winners list:

Cadillac People's Choice Award: "Precious"

Cadillac People's Choice Award runners-up: "Mao's Last Dancer" and "Micmacs"

Cadillac People's Choice Award Documentary: "The Topp Twins"

Cadillac People's Choice Award Documentary runner-up: "Capitalism: A Love Story"

Cadillac People's Choice Award Midnight Madness: "The Loved Ones"

Cadillac People's Choice Award Midnight Madness runner-up: "Daybreakers"

FIPRESCI Special Presentation Prize: "Hadewijch"

FIPRESCI Discovery: "The Man Beyond the Bridge"

Best Canadian Feature: "Cairo Time"

Skyy Vodka Best Canadian First Feature: "The Wild Hunt"

Best Canadian Short: "Danse Macabre." Honorable Mention: "Armoire"


For "Precious" director Lee Daniels, it's personal: The filmmaker keeps returning to the world of the downtrodden, a vestige of his past. His latest work delves deep into the dark yet hopeful life of an abused, pregnant teenager. By Betsy Sharkey

Photo: Gabourey Sidibe in '"Precious." Credit: Lionsgate