Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Room' Wins Top Prize at Toronto International Film Festival

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Room' Wins Top Prize at Toronto International Film Festival

Article excerpt

'Room' wins top prize at TIFF


TORONTO - A seemingly cloudy Oscar race became a little clearer on Sunday as the Toronto International Film Festival awarded the harrowing drama "Room" the People's Choice prize, an honour that is often a predictor of Academy Award success.

The Canadian-Irish film stars Brie Larson and eight-year-old Jacob Tremblay of Vancouver as a mother and son who live in a shed that he thinks is the entire world.

Ireland's Lenny Abrahamson directed the suspenseful yet touching tale that's based on Canadian author Emma Donoghue's celebrated novel.

It won the $15,000 Grolsch People's Choice Award at the end of an 11-day festival in which there appeared to be no clear front-runner.

"We shot this film in Toronto and it's incredible that this happened," said "Room" producer David Gross.

"I know it's rare ... that a Canadian film actually wins this award."

Festival director Piers Handling said the balloting on the prize was "very, very close."

"'Room' kind of ignited audiences," he said. "I think it's a very serious film but it's a very emotional film."

The film even had Scottish star Gerard Butler "bawling" when he saw it at the fest, said the distributor, noting they urged the actor-producer to view it after hearing he was looking to cast a 10-year-old boy in his next film.

"When you get the toughest guy in Hollywood bawling in one of the screenings, you think you've got something special," said Noah Segal, co-president of Toronto-based Elevation Pictures.

Last year's People's Choice winner was "The Imitation Game," which went on to get eight Oscar nominations, nabbing one golden statuette for best adapted screenplay.

Several previous People's Choice winners have also gone one to nab best picture at the Oscars, including "12 Years a Slave," "The King's Speech" and "Slumdog Millionaire."

Another Canadian film won a major prize at Sunday's event -- the inaugural Platform award.

Veteran Canadian documentary maker Alan Zweig's "Hurt,'' a portrait of disgraced runner Steve Fonyo, beat out 11 other titles to win the $25,000 award that was chosen by an international jury. …

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