‘Promises’ wins best film in Toronto

David Cronenberg thriller tops 'Juno' at fest

TORONTO — David Cronenberg’s thriller “Eastern Promises” drew the audience prize for best film at the 32nd Toronto Film Festival, which wrapped Saturday.

The Focus feature starring Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts explores the world of a notorious Russian mob family in London when a midwife goes looking for the truth after a teenager dies in childbirth.

First runner-up was Jason Reitman’s teen pregnancy comedy “Juno,” followed by “Body of War,” a doc exploring the consequences of the Iraq war from Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro.

“Cochochi,” the tale of two Raramuri boys and their efforts to find a lost horse, from first-time directors Israel Cardenas and Laura Amelia Guzman, took the Diesel Discovery award, selected by the fest’s 1000 accredited international media.

The Fipresci international critics prize went to Rodrigo Pla’s debut feature “La Zona,” a Spain-Mexico co-production that explores the rich/poor divide in Mexico.

Anahi Berneri’s second feature, “Encarnacion,” a tale of the price of emancipation in Argentina starring Silvia Perez, took the Artistic Innovation Award, selected from 13 eligible films in the fest’s Visions program.

Canadian feature kudos went to Guy Maddin’s offbeat “docu-fantasia” portrait of his childhood and hometown, “My Winnipeg,” while the Canuck first-feature nod went to “Continental, un film sans fusil” (Continental, A Film Without Guns), from Stephane LaFleur. Christopher Chan Fui Chong’s “Pool,” a portrait of post-tsunami Indonesia, took Canadian short.

As attendees headed home, fest organizers put the word out that more money needs still needs to be raised to complete financing for the new home of the Toronto Intl. Film Festival Group, currently under construction and recently dubbed Bell Lightbox. Total raised to date is C$137 million ($133 million) of the required $191 million. Director Ivan Reitman and his family and the Daniels Corp. kicked the campaign off in 2002, when they donated land and development fees totalling $21 million.

Since then the federal and Ontario governments have kicked in $24 million each, and other contributors include the CIBC, the Copyright Collective of Canada, NBC Universal Canada, Visa, Allan Slaight and family, the Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation and the fest org board of directors and staff.

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