‘Free Solo’ Wins TIFF People’s Choice Award for Documentary

Free Solo
Courtesy of TIFF


By Pat Mullen

The people have spoken! This year’s Toronto International Film Festival wrapped with the annual awards ceremony honouring the festival favourites. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s Free Solo won the People’s Choice Award for Documentary after wowing audiences with its captivating and spectacularly shot portrait of climber Alex Honnold. The film took audiences to daring heights as the film crew followed Honnold’s ambitious climbs scaling cliffs and rock faces without the help of a rope or safety net. Expect a big awards push from National Geographic as the film opens theatrically at the end of the month. Read the POV review of Free Solo here.


The first runner-up for the documentary prize was Tom Donohue’s crowd-pleasing rallying cry for gender parity in the film industry, This Changes Everything. The doc featured an A-list roster of Hollywood talent including Geena Davis, Meryl Streep, Sandra Oh, and Julie Dash speaking about inequality and systemic gender bias in the industry. The film premiered following the festival’s Share Her Journey rally on Saturday where it pledged to achieve gender parity by 2020. Read more on This Changes Everything here.

The second runner-up for the People’s Choice for Documentary was John Chester’s upbeat and inspiring The Biggest Little Farm. The easygoing eco doc chronicled the efforts of Chester and his wife Molly as they pursued their dream of opening an organic farm. The film played its final screening shortly before the awards ceremony. POV was in the audience bright and early this morning, so stay tuned for a review of The Biggest Little Farm.

Other winners included Peter Farrelly’s Green Book as the overall favourite for the People’s Choice Award. The drama featured Viggo Mortensen and Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali in a crowd-pleasing tale of race relations. Runners-up were Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk and Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, which are destined to continue TIFF’s legacy of leading films to the Academy Awards.

The Platform prize went to the Chinese drama Cities of Last Things directed by Wi Ding Ho, while Sébastien Pilote’s The Fireflies Are Gone won the award for best Canadian feature.

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