Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Belfast’ wins TIFF Audience Award – The Journal
Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical film “Belfast”, a black-and-white family drama about the tumultuous Northern Irish city of the late 1960s, won the People’s Choice Award at the International Film Festival on Saturday. Toronto, a telltale indicator of Oscar odds.
Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical film “Belfast”, a black and white family drama about the Northern Irish city during the uproar of the late 1960s, won the People’s Choice Award at the International Film Festival on Saturday. Toronto, a telltale indicator of Oscar odds.
The festival’s biggest honor, voted on by festival-goers at TIFF, is widely seen as a harbinger of the Oscars. The previous nine winners have all earned Oscar nominations for Best Picture, as have 13 of the last 14 People’s Choice award winners. These include Best Picture winners “12 Years a Slave”, “Green Book” and last year’s pick, “Nomadland” by Chloe Zhoe.
“Belfast”, which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival, is inspired by Branagh’s own childhood in Belfast. The film, which stars Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds, will be released on November 12 by Focus Features
The awards wrapped up a muted Toronto International Film Festival that has taken place over the past 10 days. Usually one of the most massive film showcases in the world, this year’s TIFF was a scaled-down pandemic hybrid, taking place both in social distancing screenings and virtually online. The other major autumn festivals – in Venice; Telluride, Colorado; and New York – opted for all in-person editions.
But it was also a much more robust TIFF than last year’s almost entirely virtual festival. The list of around 100 feature films was down from the typical Toronto 250 films, but included many of the most anticipated fall films – including Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi show “Dune,” the Western melodrama by Jane Campion “The Power of the Dog” and The Princess by Pablo Larraín Biopic on Diana “Spencer”. And on Saturday, only one positive COVID-19 case of a festival goer was reported by TIFF.
“Dune” and “Spencer” did not make themselves eligible for the People’s Choice Award, which required both in-person screening and availability on the festival’s digital portal. Normally, festival volunteers hand out ballots to moviegoers after screenings. This year, due to the pandemic, all votes were taken online.
In a presentation that aired in Canada and streamed online worldwide, other awards included the Platform Award – an award chosen by a jury led by actor Riz Ahmed – awarded to Indonesian director Kamila Andini, ” Yuni, “a coming-of-age drama about a teenage girl approaching the prospect of an arranged marriage.
The festival said the closest contestants to “Belfast” in terms of votes were “The Power of the Dog” (second runner-up) and “Scarborough” by Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson (first runner-up), who follows three children to the during a school year in the Toronto neighborhood.
The People’s Choice award for the documentary went to “The Rescue” by E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, a non-fictional account of the 2018 mission to save the youth football team trapped in the cave of Tham Luang in Thailand.