Toronto: Pietro Marcello's 'Martin Eden' Wins Platform Prize

Martin Eden - TIFF - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of TIFF

Heather Young's 'Murmur' earned the FIPRESCI critics' prize.

Pietro Marcello's Martin Eden, an adaptation of the Jack London novel set in 1880s Naples, on Thursday was named winner of the Platform competition at the Toronto International Film Festival, while Heather Young's Murmur nabbed the FIPRESCI prize for the Discovery sidebar as juried trophy-giving got underway.

The Platform prize also comes with a cash award of $20,000, with the this year's jury composed of filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari, Berlinale artistic director Carlo Chatrian and film critic Jessica Kiang. The Platform competition, now in its fifth year, allows TIFF to move beyond the glitz and glamour of Hollywood stars to focus on auteur-driven titles, some of which are foreign-language pics.

Martin Eden bowed in Venice before shifting to Toronto for its North American premiere. Kino Lorber has picked up North American rights to the drama, which transplants London’s novel to 20th century Naples and follows the life of its title character, an unskilled laborer and sailor who falls in love with the daughter of a wealthy industrial family.

Marcello's film stars Luca Marinelli, Jessica Cressy, Denise Sardisco and Vincenzo Nemolato. Honorable mentions in the Platform competition were given to Kazik Radwanski's Anne at 13,000 ft. and Alice Winocour's Proxima.

Previous Platform selections include Alex Ross Perry’s Her Smell, Armando Iannucci's The Death of Stalin, Clio Barnard’s Dark River, Kamila Andini’s The Seen and Unseen, Pablo Larraín's Jackie and Barry Jenkins' Moonlight in 2016.

The FIPRESCI prize, which has no cash award, was earned by Canadian director Young's documentary-fiction hybrid about a woman, Donna, who battles alcohol dependence and loneliness by embracing rescue animals to ease her pain. Murmur, which had a world premiere in Toronto, has a cast of non-professional actors from Nova Scotia, many of whom play themselves in the film.

"Winning the FIPRESCI Prize for the Discovery program at TIFF is a wonderful surprise and a true honor. This film was made with a small budget and a small crew in Nova Scotia and I am so proud that everyone’s hard work has led us to this very special recognition," Young said in a statement.

Young's debut feature, which was produced by Martha Cooley, is set to open the Atlantic Film Festival after TIFF. Murmur is also set to make festival stops in Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal.

The FIPRESCI prize for the Special Presentations sidebar went to Coky Giedroyc's How to Build a Girl, starring Beanie Feldstein.

The first prize-giving on Thursday follows TIFF's confirmation that it will ditch its traditional awards ceremony on its final Sunday and opt to unveil its top audience award and juried competition winners via social media.