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Toronto Film Fest awards new filmmakers

After 10 days, 352 films, and 27,747 minutes of enthralling cinematic pleasure, the 31st Toronto International Film Festival comes to a close today with a highly-anticipated Awards Reception at the Hilton Hotel Toronto. Four out of the seven winners this year are first time feature filmmakers showcasing the freshest voices in international cinema. Covering topics including family, desperation, spirituality, politics, and globalization, the international landscape of the Festival is highlighted through the winners this year.

The inaugural Swarovski Cultural Innovation Award honours the artistry, innovation and audacity of one of the Festival’s inventive Visions titles as selected by an international industry jury of major visual artists. This year’s award goes to Özer Kýzýltan’s TAKVA - A MAN’S FEAR OF GOD (Turkey/Germany), which follows a 45-year-old single man whose core belief in – and fear of – God is put to the test. The jury consists of acclaimed London based multi-media performance artist Beth Derbyshire, provocative filmmaker and photographer Olivo Barbieri, and renowned Copenhagen-based artist Jesper Just. Honourable mention goes to Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth’s KHADAK (Belgium/Germany/The Netherlands). The award offers a $10,000 cash prize.

The People’s Choice Award is voted on by Festival audiences. This year’s award goes to BELLA (USA), written and directed by Alejandro Gomez Monteverde, which tells the story of two individuals whose lives converge and turn upside down on a single day in New York City. Honourable mentions go to first runner-up, Patrice Leconte’s MON MEILLEUR AMI (France), and second runner-up, Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck’s DIXIE CHICKS: SHUT UP AND SING (USA).

Joachim Trier’s REPRISE (Norway) is the recipient of the DIESEL Discovery award. A comedic portrayal of two young men whose shared dream of becoming a writer is trampled upon by the harsh face of reality, REPRISE is Trier’s feature filmmaking debut. The Festival press corps, which consists of more than 900 international media, voted on the DIESEL Discovery Award. The award offers a $10,000 cash prize.

The Prize of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) is awarded to Gabriel Range’s DEATH OF A PRESIDENT (United Kingdom) “for the audacity with which it distorts reality to reveal a larger truth.” This prize is annually bestowed upon a feature film directed by an emerging filmmaker, and making its world premiere at the Festival. The Festival welcomed an international FIPRESCI jury for the 15th consecutive year. The 2006 jury consists of jury president Klaus Eder (Germany), Géza Csákvári (Hungary), Esin Kücüktepepinar (Turkey), Oscar Peyrou (Spain), and Norman Wilner (Canada).

The Citytv Award for Best Canadian First Feature goes to Noël Mitrani for SUR LA TRACE D’IGOR RIZZI. Laurent Lucas stars as Jean-Marc Thomas, a former professional soccer player who leaves his native France for Montréal in search of solace and comfort after the death of his Québécois ex-girlfriend. Turning to petty crime in order pay the bills, his life continues to spiral downward to the point where he accepts a job as a hitman. Established by sponsor Citytv, the award carries a cash prize of $15,000. The jury said of SUR LA TRACE D’IGOR RIZZI: “It is a rare treat when a new director’s debut embraces the medium with such originality; a truly cinematic meeting of style and substance [in which] dubious characters [are] in an unforgiving landscape consumed by a perversely romantic pursuit, wrapped in unique wit and a compassionate eye.”

The Toronto-City Award for Best Canadian Feature Film goes to Jennifer Baichwal’s compelling documentary MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES, a portrait of Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky. Baichwal and artistic collaborator and cinematographer Peter Mettler follow the much acclaimed Burtynsky while he travels the globe shooting landscapes transformed through commercial recycling, manufacturing and industrial production, providing an arresting portrait of the effects of globalization through the photographic eye. The jury notes: “From its astonishing first shot to its overwhelming conclusion, this film is a profoundly evocative dialogue between artists of the highest calibre; finding exceptional beauty in the peril of our planet.” Generously co-sponsored by the City of Toronto and Citytv, the Toronto-City Award for Best Canadian Feature Film carries a cash prize of $30,000. Honourable mention goes to Reg Harkema’s MONKEY WARFARE.

Winners of the Citytv Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film and the Toronto-City Award for Best Canadian Feature Film were selected by a jury of film industry professionals, consisting of director Jean-Marc Vallée, winner of last year’s Best Canadian Feature Film award for his film C.R.A.Z.Y.; Nick James, editor of Sight & Sound; celebrated film and television writer Karen Walton (GINGER SNAPS, “The Eleventh Hour”), and Academy Award® winning actress Anna Paquin.

The Short Cuts Canada Award offers a $10,000 cash prize. The award goes to Maxime Giroux for his short film LES JOURS. Giroux’s austere and exacting approach to composition, movement, and sound brilliantly reinforces this exploration of loss in the days that follow a tragic death in the woods. The jury selected LES JOURS “for its precision and craft, and its subtle exploration of grief.” The 2006 short film jury members are director Aubrey Nealon (A SIMPLE CURVE); short film programmer for the Sundance Film Festival and Outfest: the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival Kimberly Yutani; and producer Steve Hoban (RYAN, GINGER SNAPS).

Canada First! and Short Cuts Canada are generously sponsored by CHUM Television.
The Citytv Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film is generously sponsored by Citytv.
The Toronto-City Award for Best Canadian Feature Film is generously co-sponsored by the City of Toronto and Citytv.
Visions and the SWAROVSKI Cultural Innovation Award are generously sponsored by SWAROVSKI.
Discovery and the DIESEL Discovery Award are generously sponsored by DIESEL Canada.
The Awards Reception is generously sponsored by the Hilton Hotel Toronto.

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