‘Faces Places’ Wins TIFF People’s Choice Award for Documentary

Faces Places
Courtesy of TIFF

By Pat Mullen

The people have spoken! Agnès Varda and JR’s jubilant and life-affirming Faces Places (Visages Villages) scooped the People’s Choice Award for documentary at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The doc, helmed by 89-year-old Varda and street artist JR, had audiences gushing with praise. It was hard to find a doc fan who didn’t love it. The POV team at TIFF seemed to be in unanimous agreement that Faces Places was TIFF’s documentary standout. (Read the POV review of Faces Places here.)

The runner-up for documentary was one for the home team as Jennifer Baichwal and Nick de Pencier’s Tragically Hip doc Long Time Running came in second place. The bittersweet behind the scenes glimpse at the Hip’s final tour following Gord Downey’s cancer diagnosis was a favourite going into the festival. It delivered on all fronts, not only to Hip fans but for anyone looking for a doc that, like Faces Places, would move them and inspire them in unexpected ways. (Read the POV review of Long Time Running here.)

The second runner-up prize went to Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken. Many critics and audience members called it the director’s best film since the original Super Size Me. (Read more on Super Size Me 2 in our interview with TIFF programmer Thom Powers.)

Outside of the People’s Choice Award for documentary, TIFF’17’s award ceremony was a strong showing for documentary culture. Wayne Wapeemukwa’s innovative and daring hybrid film Luk’Luk’I won the City of Toronto Award for Best First Canadian Feature. The film was a collaboration between the director and residents of Vancouver’s East Side, who played themselves in the film. Upon accepting the award, Wapeemukwa noted that a large portion of the prize money would be split between his actor collaborators. (Read our interview with Wayne Wapeemukwa here.) The festival’s award for Best Canadian Feature went to Robin Aubert’s zombie horror flick Les Affamés.

Additionally, the darkly funny mockumentary I, Tonya capitalized on its status as the sleeper hit of the festival and scooped the runner-up prize for the Grolsch People’s Choice Award. The film can expect to carry TIFF’s legacy of audience favourites that go on to become award season contenders, particularly for its scene-stealing performance by Allison Janney in the Best Supporting Actress race. (Read our review of I, Tonya here.)

The big prize of the day for the overall People’s Choice award went to Martin McDonagh’s black comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri starring a foul-mouthed Frances McDormand. There was an audible gasp in the room when Billboards was announced the winner and presumed favourite The Shape of Water, directed by Guillermo Del Toro and shot in Toronto, was shut out.

The festival’s Platform prize went to Australian director Warwick Thornton’s badass and brilliant western Sweet Country. Upon accepting the award, Thornton thanked the jury for recognizing the need for Indigenous filmmakers to correct history through film.

TIFF offers free screenings of both Three Billboards and Sweet Country tonight.

Visit the POV TIFF Hub for more coverage from this year’s festival.

TIFF runs Sept. 7-17. Visit TIFF.net for more information.