Black Ice is the festival favourite for documentary as selected by the TIFF audience. The film by Hubert Davis won the People’s Choice Award for documentary at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The awards were announced today during a breakfast event at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Davis’s film had its world premiere in TIFF’s galas programme and energized audiences with its study of systemic racism in hockey.
Runners up in the People’s Choice documentary race are Maya and the Wave, directed by Stephanie Johnes, and 752 Is Not a Number, directed by Babak Payami. The former is a portrait of Brazilian big wave surfer Maya Gabeira and the latter observes Toronto father Hamed Esmaeilion as it searches for answers after losing his family during the attack on Ukrainian Flight PS752. Both films had their world premieres in the TIFF Docs programme.
Two documentaries also won the juried awards at TIFF, which were rebranded as the Amplify Voices Awards in 2020. Nisha Pahuja won the award for Best Canadian Feature for her documentary To Kill a Tiger. The film is a powerful study of a father’s devotion to his daughter when she decides to hold her rapists accountable for their crime. An honourable mention went to Stéphane Lafleur’s comedy Viking. The Amplify Voices Awards also acknowledged Vinay Shukla’s documentary While We Watched, which observes the fight for the free press in India. Also winning in the category was the drama Leonor Will Never Die, directed by Martika Ramirez Escobar. Each winner of the Amplify Voices Award received $10,000 each, courtesy of Canada Goose. An honourable mention was also given to Madison Thomas as best emerging BIPOC director for her documentary Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On.
TIFF’s Platform Award for the best film in the competitive programme devoted to auteur cinema went to Vancouver-based filmmaker Anthony Shim for his drama Riceboy Sleeps. The film is Shim’s second feature and offers a personal account of a young Korean-Canadian boy growing up in Canada with his widowed mother. The jury called the film a “deeply moving story and precisely-observed characters as they navigate racism, dislocation, family, and love.” The TIFF Next Wave committee, meanwhile, awarded the Shawn Mendes Changemaker Award to Luis De Filippis for her debut feature Something You Said Last Night. The film is an intimate portrait of a transgender woman on holiday with her family. The FIPRESCI Prize went to Basil Khalil’s A Gaza Weekend.
The big winner, finally, went as expected. Steven Spielberg conquered TIFF in his first appearance at the festival with The Fablemans. The semi-autobiographical drama was the early favourite and arguably the biggest title among the TIFF world premieres. Runners-up for the overall TIFF People’s Choice Award were Sarah Polley’s Women Talking and Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.