Nadine Labaki's "Where Do We Go Now?" has won the Cadillac People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF officials announced at an awards brunch on Sunday.
The film uses comedy and music to tell the story of a group of women in an isolated community in Lebanon who use a variety of schemes and ploys to distract their men from the outside tensions that threaten to disrupt the town's cordial relatioinships between its Christians and Muslims.
A surprising TIFF winner over such high-profile crowd-pleasers as "The Artist" and "The Descendants," the film was recently selected as Lebanon's official entry into the Academy's Foreign-Language race.
"Starbuck" and "A Separation" were named runners-up, while audience award winners in the Documentary and Midnight Madness categories were "The Island President" and "The Raid," respectively.
In picking up the festival's top prize, "Where Do We Go Now?" joined a slate of TIFF audience award winners that over the years has included Oscar Best Picture winners “Slumdog Millionaire,” “American Beauty,” “Chariots of Fire” and last year's winner, "The King's Speech."
In previous years, the prize has also been won by “Eastern Promises,” “Tsotsi,” “Hotel Rwanda,” “Whale Rider,” Bella” and “Zatoichi.”
The People’s Choice Award is voted on by festivalgoers who rank each film on a scale of one-to-five at all public screenings. It is the chief award handed out at TIFF, which does not convene a jury to vote on honors the way festivals like Cannes and Venice do.
TIFF does use small juries to select the winners of the three awards for Canadian films. Those awards carry cash prizes of $30,000 (Best Canadian Feature Film, which went to "Monsieur Lazare"), $15,000 (Best Canadian First Feature Film, "Edwin Boyd") and $10,000 (Best Canadian Short Film, "Doubles With Slight Pepper").
People’s Choice Award: "Where Do We Go Now?," Nadine Labaki
Runners-up: "A Separation," Asghar Farhadi, and "Starbuck," Ken Scott
People’s Choice Award for Documentary: "The Island President," Jon Shenk
Runners-up: "Pearl Jam Twenty," Cameron Crowe, and "First Position," Bess Kargman
People’s Choice Award for Midnight Madness: "The Raid," Gareth Evans
Runners-up: "You're Next," Adam Wingard, and "God Bless America," Bobcat Goldthwait
FIPRESCI Prize for the Discovery Section: "Avalon," Axel Petersen
FIPRESCI Prize for the Special Presentations Section: "The First Man," Gianna Amelio
Best Canadian Feature Film: "Monsieur Lazare," Philippe Falardeau
Best Canadian First Feature Film: "Edwin Boyd," Nathan Morlando
Best Canadian Short Film: "Doubles with Slight Pepper," Ian Harnarine