Patricia Clarkson

Opening Weekend: Mirages of romance

Looking for love abroad in ‘An Education,’ ‘Cairo Time’ and ‘Couples Retreat’

‘Precious’ wins Oscar’s Toronto primary

It was wrap yesterday for the Toronto International Film Festival, as it staged its awards ceremony at a hotel brunch. This is always a low-key affair. Unlike the othe major festivals—Cannes, Berlin, Venice and Sundance—Toronto prides itself on being a non-competitive event. Which is why a lot of filmmakers feel comfortable unveiling their work here. There are no losers. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t winners. Although there’s no formal competition, awards are given out, and this year there were more than ever. Juries honoured three categories of Canadian films with cash prizes—Ruba Nadda’s lush and delicate romance, Cairo Time, won $30,000 for best Canadian feature, Alexandre Franchi’s The Wild Hunt, about role-playing games, won $15,000 for best Canadian first feature, and Pedro Pires’s Dance Macabre, a dark ballet conceived by Robert Lepage, won $10,000 for best Canadian short. But the prize that has taken on more and more significance over the years is the People’s Choice Award, which is voted by audiences—and has come to serve as a bell-weather for Oscar success. Past winners have included Chariots of Fire, American Beauty, Crash and Slumdog Millionaire. To no one’s surprise, at least not mine, the 2009 winner was Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire. By turns harrowing and inspirational, this tale of an abused, obese, illiterate Harlem teen is this year’s Slumdog.Unlike Slumdog, it wasn’t discovered at TIFF but at Sundance, and that’s when fairy godmother Oprah Winfrey jumped on board as executive producer. But Toronto was where Oprah launched the Oscar campaign for Precious.

Photo Gallery: Toronto Film Festival 2007

The stars just seem to shine brighter north of the border. Exclusive pictures of celebrities on the red carpet and in their own habitat (aka hotel rooms) at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival. Check out Matt Damon, Jennifer Garner, George Clooney and Brad Pitt — erm, with an itchy nose.


Photo Gallery: Toronto Film Festival 2006

Juilette Binoche epitomized the “blonde bombshell” look at Breaking and Entering
premiere, along with co-star Jude Law — who had an impish grin for festival paparrazzi. The Dixie Chicks came to town with a hot documentary that followed the backlash after their dig at President George Bush. From Ashton Kutcher to Zach Braff, see all the celebs that invaded Toronto this past September.