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TORONTO – The search for the next Oscar frontrunner out of the Toronto International Film Festival has a tailwind from The Hunger Games behind it.
Silver Linings Playbook, in which Jennifer Lawrence stars alongside Bradley Cooper, was named the top audience prize winner in Toronto on Sunday, which is often a barometer of future Academy Award nominations.
Silver Linings Playbook joins previous TIFF audience award winners like Slumdog Millionaire, American Beauty and The King’s Speech that rode a wave out of Toronto to Academy Awards glory.
The Oscar shot for Silver Linings Playbook, which also stars Robert De Niro, concerned about his bipolar son, played by Cooper, trying to regain his bearings, follows a world premiere in Toronto on September 8.
The Hunger Games star and David O. Russell were not on hand to accept the People’s Choice Award trophy for Silver Linings Playbook as Lawrence is back in the role of Katniss Everdeen on the set of the Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire.
The top award in Toronto was instead accepted by Mark Slone, an exec at Alliance Films, the title’s Canadian distributor that will also release in Canada most of the Toronto prize winners this year. The Weinstein Co. will release the film domestically November 21.
Other audience award winners in Toronto included Martin McDonagh‘s Seven Psychopaths, which stars Colin Farrell and Christopher Walken, winning the audience award for the most popular film in the Midnight Madness sidebar. (Watch exclusive video of McDonagh, Farrell and co-star Sam Rockwell in The Hollywood Reporter’s TIFF Video Lounge here.)
And the People’s Choice award for best documentary went to Bartholemew Cubbins’ Artifact, about the modern film business.
Elsewhere, Deco Dawson‘s Keep a Modest Head, a 19-minute biographical documentary about Quebec surrealist artist Jean Benoit, won for best Canadian short film. “This is incredible. The festival has been very dear to me, and very encouraging and supportive,” Deco Dawson said on accepting his award.
A special mention was given to Crackin’ Down Hard by Trailer Park Boys creator Mike Clattenburg.
And Mikael Marcimain‘s Call Girl, based on the real-life prostitution scandal that threatened to topple the Swedish government in the 1970s, grabbed the FIPRESCI critics prize for the best title in the Discovery sidebar.
In addition, the FIPRESCI critics prize for best title in the Special Presentations program went to Francois Ozon‘s In The House, about a relationship between a professor and his student.
And prolific Japanese director Sion Sono won the best Asian film prize in Toronto for The Land of Hope, a drama about a rural family’s struggle to survive in the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake and the resulting nuclear crisis.
And Xavier Dolan picked up the best Canadian feature film trophy for Laurence Anyways, which bowed in Cannes on its way to Toronto, while fellow Canadian filmmaker Jason Buxton and his film Blackbird shared the best Canadian first feature film award with Brandon Cronenberg and his first effort, Anti-Viral, which screened in Toronto after bowing in Cannes.
“So I’m drawing a blank, but thanks to all the great brains I worked with on this film, which made it what it is,” Cronenberg, the son of veteran Canadian director David Cronenberg, told the awards luncheon. (Watch exclusive video of Cronenberg and stars Sarah Gadon and Caleb Landry Jones in THR‘s TIFF Video Lounge here.)
On the market side, around 40 TIFF titles sold to international buyers this year, including 29 films securing U.S. distribution. “Toronto continues to be a must-attend festival for buyers and sellers from around the world,” TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey said as the 37th edition came to a close.
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