Ernie Coombs and Fred Rogers | CBC Still Photo Collection/Robert Ragsdale

Mr. Dressup Wins TIFF People’s Choice Award for Documentary

Sophie Dupuis' Solo wins Best Canadian Feature

5 mins read

Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe is the winner of the People’s Choice Award for Documentary at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Directed by Robert McCallum, the film was named the audience favourite for documentary at the awards breakfast at TIFF Lightbox. Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe celebrates the legacy of Ernie Coombs and the beloved children’s television character who entertained and inspired generations of Canadians. The film opens in theatres beginning September 29.

The first runner-up for the People’s Choice Award for Documentary is Jen Markowitz’s Summer Qamp. The film takes audiences to the idyllic summer getaway of Camp fYrefly where queer youths can gather in a safe space for self-expression. The second runner-up is Mountain Queen: The Summits of Lhakpa Sherpa, directed by Lucy Walker. The film follows adventurer and mother Lhakpa Sherpa as she summits Mount Everest for the tenth time and provides inspiration for her daughters. Mountain Queen scored one of the festival’s most notable sales after premiering as a work in progress. Netflix snapped it up with an eye to launch the doc for next year’s award season. Consider it a strong contender in a future Oscar race.

On the Canadian front, Sophie Dupuis’ sumptuous drag scene drama Solo won the prize for Best Canadian Feature. Henri Pardo, meanwhile, received an honourable mention for Kanaval. The overall winner for the People’s Choice Award was the drama American Fiction, directed by Cord Jefferson. The Holdovers starring Paul Giamatti was the first runner-up, while festival opener The Boy and the Heron by Hayao Miyazaki was the second runner-up.

“We’re grateful to all the audience members, artists, industry professionals, and supporters who graced Toronto’s cinemas, red carpets, meeting spaces, and streets,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF CEO in a statement from the festival. “As we recognize award winners today, we thank everyone who contributed to this glorious, collective gift.”
“From the most revered veterans to the freshest new voices, this year’s Festival played host to the diverse range of filmmakers Toronto is known for,” added Anita Lee, TIFF Chief Programming Officer. “And Toronto’s filmgoers turned up in huge numbers to be a part of the celebration. We’re grateful to our film jurors for their invaluable contributions, for championing emerging talent, and for enriching the film community with their expertise and passion.”


The full list of 2023 Toronto International Film Festival Award winners is as follows:


People’s Choice Award for Documentary: Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe, dir. Robert McCallum

First runner-up: Summer Qamp, dir. Jen Markowitz

Second runner-up: Mountain Queen: The Summits of Lhakpa Sherpa, dir. Lucy Walker


People’s Choice Award: American Fiction, dir. Cord Jefferson

First runner-up: The Holdovers, dir. Alexander Payne

Second runner-up: The Boy and the Heron, dir. Hayao Miyazaki


People’s Choice Award for Midnight Madness: Dicks: The Musical, dir. Larry Charles

First runner-up: Kill, dir. Nikhil Nagesh Bhat
Second runner-up: Hell of a Summer, dirs. Finn Wolfhard, Billy Bryk


Best Canadian Feature: Solo, dir. Sophie Dupuis

Honourable mention: Kanaval, dir. Henri Pardo


Amplify Voices Award – Best BIPOC Canadian Feature: Kanaval, dir. Henri Pardo


Amplify Voices Award for Best BIPOC Canadian First Feature Award: Tautuktavuk (What We See), dirs. Carol Kunnuk, Lucy Tulugarjuk


Amplify Voices Trailblazer Award: Damon D’Oliveira


Short Cuts Award for Best Film: Electra, dir. Daria Kashcheeva


Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Film: Motherland, dir. Jasmin Mozaffari


Short Cuts Share Her Journey Award: Shé (Snake), dir. Renee Zhan

Honourable mention: Gaby’s Hills, dir. Zoé Pelchat


Platform Award: Dear Jassi, dir. Tarsem Singh Dhandwar


Changemaker Award: We Grown Now, dir. Minhal Baig


FIPRESCI Prize: Seagrass, dir. Meredith Hama-Brown


NETPAC Award: A Match, dir. Jayant Digambar Somalkar


Get more coverage from the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival here.

Pat Mullen is the publisher of POV Magazine. He holds a Master’s in Film Studies from Carleton University where his research focused on adaptation and Canadian cinema. Pat has also contributed to outlets including The Canadian Encyclopedia, Paste, That Shelf, Sharp, Xtra, and Complex. He is the vice president of the Toronto Film Critics Association and an international voter for the Golden Globe Awards.

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