The biopic of the British code-breaker persecuted for his sexuality took home the coveted Grolsch People’s Choice Award.
To the delight of Cumberboys and Cumbergirls citywide, TIFF brass took to the InterContinental earlier this afternoon to announce that the coveted Grolsch People’s Choice Award, the festival’s top honour, belonged to Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, an Alan Turing biopic starring Sherlock himself, Benedict Cumberbatch. Voted by audiences throughout the festival, the prize is seen as a bellwether for future awards success, owing to the strong track record of prior winners and Oscar darlings like Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, and, just last year, 12 Years a Slave. As per tradition, the award also comes with a free public screening at the Ryerson Theatre at 6 p.m., with prospective audiences already starting to line up around the mega-theatre for tickets, to be dispersed at 4 p.m.
The festival also announced the winners of programme-specific awards. The Grolsch People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award went to Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement for What We Do in the Shadows, their mockumentary about a trio of New Zealand flatmates who also happen to be vampires. The Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award went to Hajooj Kuka for Beats of the Antonov, which profiles Sudanese refugees following their displacement as a consequence of the civil war.
In addition to the audience-selected honours, the festival also announced the winners of the Special Presentations and Discovery programmes, selected by the international FIPRESCI jury of critics, including Toronto’s own Thom Ernst. The Special Presentations prize went to Oren Moverman’s Time Out of Mind , starring Richard Gere as a homeless man, in one of about half a dozen films at the fest about the homeless. Abd Al Malik took top honours in the Discovery programme, devoted to first-time feature directors, for May Allah Bless France! Of the win, the jury beamed that, “while the startling cinematography is purely black and white, Malik managed to show the different shades of grey in his daring debut.”
Canadian films also got special honours. The Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film—juried by Toronto filmmaker Ingrid Veninger, and Torontoist contributor Jason Anderson, among others—went to Maxime Giroux’s Felix and Meira, which collected the same cool $30,000 cash prize Bruce McDonald famously promised to spend on a “a big chunk of hash” when he won for Hard Core Logo. Meanwhile, the City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film, no slouch itself at a $15,000 cash value, went to Jeffrey St. Jules for Bang Bang Baby, which the jury celebrated as a sophisticated blend of genres and tones. Who knows how much more it could have snagged if Cumberbatch was in the mix?