TORONTO — Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was the filmgoers’ pick at the 25th annual Toronto Intl. Film Festival, winning the People’s Choice Award, presented at the festival wrap lunch Sunday.
“I couldn’t ask for a better vote of confidence than that of an audience,” said Andy Myers, exec VP of Blackwatch, the film’s Canadian distributor. Myers called the award a “foregone conclusion.” “It’s a great film. It swept everyone off their feet,” he said, adding that it could well go all the way to the Oscars.
Distributed in the U.S. by Sony Picture Classics, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” will open in the U.S. on Dec. 8 and in Canada Dec. 22.
Second prize went to the Australian film “The Dish,” a quirky behind-the-scenes take on the broadcast of the first footsteps on the moon, directed by Rob Sitch. “We knew the film had worked in Australia; we knew the audiences loved it,” said producer Michael Hirsh , adding that a vote from Toronto auds bodes well for the film’s international appeal. “We’ve won a silver medal at the film Olympics.”
Distributed in Australia by Village Roadshow, pic will open Down Under on Oct. 19. The film has no other distributors “as of press time,” Hirsh quipped.
Paul Cox’s “Innocence,” another Australian film, and Stephen Daldry’s “Billy Elliot,” from the U.K., tied for third place.
The Fipresci award, selected by a panel of international journalists, went to gangster tale “Bangkok Dangerous,” a film from Thailand directed by twin brothers Oxide and Danny Pang.
“George Washington,” David Gordon Green’s look at life in the American Deep South, tied for the Discovery Award with Baltasar Kormakur’s “101 Reykjavik,” an Iceland/Norway/Denmark/France co-production about sexual confusion and youth culture in Iceland. “The Day I Became a Woman,” an Iranian film from Marziyeh Meshkini, and “The Iron Ladies,” a Thai film about a championship volleyball team comprised mostly of transsexuals and transvestites, directed by Yongoon Thongkonthun, tied for second place.
Gary Burns’ “Waydowntown” received the City Award for best Canadian feature film, with honorable mention going to Karen Walton’s “Ginger Snaps” and Denis Villeneuve’s “Maelstrom,” which opened the Perspective Canada program.
Kudos for the best first feature from a Canuck director went to Philippe Falardeau for “La moitie gauche du Frigo,” with Anthony Coutre’s “Red Deer” receiving honorable mention.
The award for best Canadian short film went to Michele Cournoyer’s “Le Chapeau,” with honorable mention for Keith Behrman’s “Ernest.”