Despite the big buzz surrounding films with serious topics like war and corruption at this year's Toronto International Film Festival, tense, bloody Russian mob drama "Eastern Promises" turned out to be the picture that moviegoers favored most at the yearly event.
The flick, directed by Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg, took top prize of Cadillac People's Choice Award on the final day of the ten-day festival, Saturday, September 15, 2007. The honor, given based on votes from the festival's audience, often is an indicator of Academy Award nominations with past recipients including Oscar's Best Picture winners "Chariots of Fire" and "American Beauty."
"It's great that it's a Canadian film by one of our monsters, somebody that we're really closely associated with," festival's director Piers Handling remarked in an interview after the awards presentation. "It couldn't be a better finish for us."
Cronenberg, however, was unable to accept the trophy in person because he at that time was in New York to promote the movie, which opened in limited release Friday, September 14 and has already collected $553,000 from fifteen North American screens in its weekend debut.
Voted the People's Choice first runner-up was Jason Reitman's comedy "Juno" while independently financed documentary "Body of War" became the second runner-up. Mexican feature "La Zona", in the meantime, got awarded the Fipresci prize, chosen by international critics, with "Continental, un film sans fusil", "My Winnipeg", and short film "Pool" all landing Canadian film honors.
Other winners at the festival included Israel Cardenas and Laura Amelia Guzman's "Cochochi" and Argentine's "Encarnacion" which secured the Diesel Discovery Award and a cultural innovation award, respectively.