Monday, September 19, 2011

Toronto Festival Winners - Lebonese, French, Iranian, and a USA Doc

The Toronto International Film Festival is not competitive, which means it has no jury. It gives only two awards, both chosen by the festival attendees. The sought-after award is the Cadillac People's Choice Award.
The Cadillac People's Choice Award for a feature film went to Where Do We go Now? It is listed as a comedy/drama. The movie was written, directed, and also co-stars Nadine Nabaki, who is Lebanese. Her first movie Caramel was well received at the 2007 Toronto IFF.

The original title is French, Et maintenant, on va où? For my Middle Eastern friends, the Arabic title is, Ou Halla La Weyn?
The story line is, "A group of Lebanese women try to ease religious tensions between Christians and Muslims in their village."

The budget for this multi-lingual movie (Arabic, Russian, English) was approximately $6 million. It does not have a U.S. distributor at the moment, but is distributed in Europe by Pathe, and has opened in France and Finland. It is scheduled to open in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria next week, opening in Kuwait and the UAE November 10.
The runners-up for the Cadillac People's Choice Award were:  A Separation, a drama, and Starbuck, a comedy. A Separation is an Iranian movie, filmed in Iran, written, directed and produced by Asghar Farhadi (About Elly, 2009), and the language is Persian.
The budget was $300,000, and it grossed aprox. $5 million in France in July. It won a number of awards at this year's Berlin International Film Festival including the top jury prize, Golden Bear, and a Silver Bear for the acting ensemble.

Starbuck is a Canadian production, filmed entirely in Quebec, and the language is French, directed by Ken Scott, co-written by Scott and Martin Petit. It has nothing to do with the chain of coffee houses.

The title refers to the pseudonym of the main character, David, because he was an avid sperm donor in his youth. Now, at 42, he discovers he is the father of 533 children, 142 of whom have filed a class action lawsuit to determine the identity of their biological father, known only as Starbuck.

The Cadillac People's Choice Award for Best Documentary Feature went to The Island President, directing and cinematography by Jon Shenk, who shared the Independent Spirit Award in 2003 with Megan Milan for the documentary, Lost Boys of Sudan. It is a USA production and the language is English. Look for it on PBS (Independent Lens or P.O.V.).

This is a documentary about Mohamed "Anni" Nasheed, real-life president of the Maldives, a low-lying Pacific island nation, and his fight to save the islands as they face the crisis of being flooded because of Global Warming. The Republic of Maldives is located in the Indian Ocean toward the southwest of India and Sri Lanka.

For more pictures and information about these films, I refer you to Roger Ebert's Suntimes Blog. Please click the title of this post to go there.                           Toronto IFF Web Site

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