‘The Imitation Game’ Wins Toronto Audience Award

Runner-up honors go to “Learning to Drive” and “St. Vincent,” documentary prize to “Beats of the Antonov”

“The Imitation Game” has been named winner of the Grolsch People’s Choice Award at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF announced at an awards lunch on Sunday.

The Weinstein Company release, directed by Morten Tyldum and starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the British mathematician who helped break Germany’s Enigma Code in World War II, but was persecuted after the war for being gay, won the strongest reaction from TIFF-goers who deposited their ticket stubs while leaving the theater or cast ballots online.

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Runner-up were Isabel Coixet’s “Learning to Drive,” with Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley, and Theodore Melfi’s “St. Vincent,” with Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy.

The last seven Oscar Best Picture winners have all screened at TIFF. In that time, the Oscar winner has captured the TIFF audience award three times: “Slumdog Millionaire” in 2008, “The King’s Speech” in 2010 and “12 Years a Slave” last year.

Hajooj Kuka‘s “Beats of the Antonov” won the People’s Choice Award as the festival’s best documentary. Ethan Hawke‘s character portrait “Seymour: An Introduction” was a runner-up, along with “Do I Sound Gay?”

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In the Midnight Madness section, the winner was “What We Do in the Shadows” by Taika Waititi and New Zealand actor-director (and Flight of the Conchords member) Jemaine Clement. Kevin Smith‘s “Tusk” was named first runner-up, with Jalmari Heleander’s ” Big Game” taking second runner-up.

An international critics’ jury gave prizes to Oren Moverman‘s “Time Out of Mind” and Abd Al Malik’s “May Allah Bless France.”

The awards for Canadian features went to Maxime Giroux’s “Felix and Meira” (Canadian feature film) and Jeffrey St. Jules’ “Bang Bang Baby” (Canadian first feature), while the award for the best Asian film went to Shonali Bose’s “Margarita With a Straw.”

In previous years, winners of the audience award included Oscar winners “American Beauty” and “Chariots of Fire,” as well as “Silver Linings Playbook,” Where Do We Go Now,” “Tsotsi,” “Hotel Rwanda,” “Whale Rider,” “Shine,” “Strictly Ballroom,” “The Fisher King,” “Roger & Me,” “The Princess Bride” and “The Big Chill.”

The award is open to any film that screened at the festival, apart from shorts and entries in the TIFF Cinematheque section. This year’s other contenders included “The Theory of Everything,” “Top Five,” “Wild,” “Foxcatcher,” “Nightcrawler,” “Mr. Turner” and “Whiplash.”

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Audience members are allowed to cast ballots for as many films as they want. To avoid giving an unfair advantage to films that screen in larger theaters, the winning film is selected not by the total number of ballots cast, but by the percentage of a film’s total audience that votes for that film.

The winners:

Grolsch People’s Choice Award: “The Imitation Game,” Morten Tyldum
Runners-up:
“Learning to Drive,” Isabel Coixet, and “St. Vincent,” Theodore Melfi
People’s Choice Documentary Award:
“Beats of the Antonov,” Hajooj Kuka
Runners-up:
“Do I Sound Gay?,” David Thorpe, and “Seymour: An Introduction,” Ethan Hawke
People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award:
“What We Do in the Shadows,” Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement
Runners-up:
“Tusk,” Kevin Smith, and “Big Game,” Jalmari Heleander

Best Canadian First Feature: “Bang Bang Baby,” Jeffrey St. Jules
Best Canadian Feature Film:
“Felix and Meira,” Maxime Giroux

International Critics (FIPRESCI) Prize for Special Presentations: “Time Out of Mind,” Oren Moverman
International Critics (FIPRESCI) Prize for Discovery Program: “May Allah Bless France,” Abd Al Malik
NETPAC Award for Best Asian Film: “Margarita With a Straw,” Shonali Bose

International Short Film: “A Single Body,” Sotiris Dounokous
Canadian Short Film: “The Weatherman and the Shadowboxer,” Randall Okita
   Honorable Mention: “What Doesn’t Kill You,” Rob Grant