Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The People have spoken!

This years Toronto Film Festival has come to the end (September 10-19) and director Lee Daniels’ Precious, based on the novel Push by Sapphire has taken top honors, becoming the first film in history to win audience awards at both Toronto and Sundance. However, even before winning these prestigious awards, this film had a leg up as Oprah Winfrey is one of its Executive Producers. When Oprah speaks, people listen!
Precious is an overweight, illiterate teen, living in Harlem and is pregnant with her second child. Feeling invisible and rejected, she is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction. Precious is set to be released in November of this year.

The runner-up for the audience award went to Australian director Bruce Beresford’s Mao’s Last Dancer. This film is based on the autobiography by Li Cunxin. At the age of 11, Li was taken from a poor to Beijing to study ballet. In 1979, during a cultural exchange to Texas, he fell in love with an American woman. Two years later, he managed to defect and went on to perform as a principal dancer for the Houston Ballet and as a principal artist with the Australian Ballet. Although I assume this film will get North American distribution, so far distribution has not been announced.

Other winners at TIFF this year included:

Leanne Pooley’s The Topp Twins - which follows New Zealand’s lesbian twin sister country and western singers, won in the documentary category, taking honors over a much more high-profile runner-up, Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story. The Topp Twins does not currently have North American distribution.

Sean Byrne’s prom-set horror film The Loved Ones won the people’s choice award for Midnight Madness, the midnight screening series at the festival. A gore-filled shocker that goes for laughs by paying homage to the outlandish low-budget films of the '70s and '80s, blending together Misery, Saw, Prom Night, The Evil Dead and Carrie.

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