The 34th Annual Toronto International Film Festival has wrapped up with the announcement of its awards winners. On Saturday, September 19 at the Awards Reception at the Intercontinental on Front Street, "Precious: Based on the Novel PUSH by Sapphire" was unveiled to be the title holder of 2009 Cadillac People's Choice Award.
The gritty tale about an abused teenage girl in Harlem got the most votes from ordinary moviegoers in Toronto and beat out first runner-up Bruce Beresford's "Mao's Last Dancer", and second runner-up Jean-Pierre Jeunet's "Micmacs". Having also won the audience and jury awards for best picture from this year's Sundance Film Festival, it became the only film ever to win the audience prizes at both festivals.
"The audience award holds such an important meaning," director Lee Daniels said in a statement from the San Sebastian Film Festival, where the movie was screened on Sunday evening, September 20. "I made this film for every person out there who ever looked in the mirror and felt unsure about the person looking back."
Grabbing the top prize at 2009 TIFF boosted the chance of "Precious" to collect nominations from the upcoming Academy Awards. Previous, Cadillac People's Choice Award-winner "Slumdog Millionaire" went on to collect eight Oscars' golden man statuettes including Best Motion Picture of the Year title as well as Achievement in Directing for helmer Danny Boyle.
Beside "Precious", a number of other movies also took home prizes from the festival held from September 10 to 19. "The Topp Twins", Leanne Pooley's movie about New Zealand lesbian country and western singing duo, was honored with the audience award for top documentary. Sean Byrne's drama "The Loved Ones", in the meantime, won Midnight Madness audience award.
Bruno Dumont's French drama "Hadewijch" and Pedro Pires' "Danse Macabre" earned the FIPRESCI critics prize and the best Canadian short film award respectively. Canadian filmmaker Alexandre Franchi's "The Wild Hunt" grabbed the best Canadian first feature film award, and Ruba Nadda's "Cairo Time" picked up the best Canadian feature film trophy.
"Precious" is set in Harlem in 1987 and revolves around Claireece "Precious" Jones, an overweight, illiterate sixteen-year-old African-American girl born into a life no one would want. Abused by her mother and raped by her father, she is pregnant for the second time and reaches the ninth grade without being able to read or write. Instead of being swallowed by depression, she tries to break from the chains of ignorance by digging deep into her own resources.
Originally titled "Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire", this drama film stars Gabourey Sidibe as Precious and is supported by Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz among others. The script is provided by Damien Paul. This Oprah Winfrey-produced movie will be released in limited U.S. theaters on November 6.