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Toronto International Film Festival 2022 Wrap Up

The Toronto Film Festival has ended with a message to Hollywood: Steven Spielberg’s new drama, The Fabelmans, could be the film to beat going into awards season after taking home the TIFF People’s Choice Award.

While Toronto is not a prize-driven festival and does not have an official jury like the Cannes and Venice festivals, its highly coveted People’s Choice Award – voted only by audiences – is almost always a harbinger of a best picture nominee, with films like Green Book, La La Land and Jojo Rabbit, all winners that went on to receive Oscar love.

The Fabelmans is based on Spielberg’s own childhood in Arizona where he discovered his passion for movie making, and stars newcomer Gabriel LaBelle alongside Paul Dano, Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen.

“Above all, I am glad I brought this film to Toronto,” Spielberg said in a statement. “This is the most personal film I have made, and the warm reception from everyone in Toronto made my first visit to TIFF intimate and personal for me and my entire ‘Fabelmans’ family.”

The audiences alternated between crowd pleasers and more critical fare with their votes. The first runner-up, Women Talking, was directed by female filmmaker Sarah Polley and stars Frances McDormand, Rooney Mara, Claire Foy and Ben Whishaw. The second runner-up, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, is set to become another box-office blockbuster like its predecessor Knives Out and also boasts an all-star cast including Kate Hudson, Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Ethan Hawke, and Janelle Monáe.

Other crowd favorites emerging from the festival included The Woman King, directed by Gina Prince-Blythewood and starring Viola DavisThe Menu, starring Ralph FiennesThe Whale, which earned a performance prize for much-hyped actor Brendan Frasier at the black-tie gala event a few nights earlier. “This is new for me,” the humbled Canadian American actor said when accepting the award right after a triumphant Venice festival appearance. “Normally I’m the guy at the podium handing these things out. The last time I waited to hear my name called out to receive an award was in grade 4 and it was from the Peewee Bowling League!”

The People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award went to another high-profile premiere, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, starring Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe in the title role. Audiences lined up for hours and covered more than three blocks to see the film and hear the Q&A featuring Yankovic himself, along with Radcliffe, Evan Rachel Wood and director/co-writer Eric Appel. First runner-up was Pearl, directed by Ti West, and second runner-up was The Blackening, directed by Tim Story.

“2022 brought an exceptional selection of films that excited festival audiences around the world,” TIFF’s CEO Cameron Bailey said in a statement. “Our lineup showcased beloved auteurs alongside fresh voices in filmmaking, including numerous women powerhouses. The sweeping range in cinematic storytelling from around the world is a testament to the uniqueness of the films that are being made.”

The People’s Choice Best Documentary Award winner was Black Ice directed by Hubert Davis, with first runner-up Maya and the Wave directed by Stephanie Johnes, and second runner-up 752 is Not a Number directed by Babak Payami. Notable in its omission was the documentary, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed which had become one of the only documentaries to take home the Golden Lion prize at Venice a week earlier but didn’t seem to register with Toronto audiences.

In a festival famous for kicking off many Oscar campaigns, crowds were back in full force to indulge in the diverse program, from Taylor Swift campaigning for an Oscar with her sold-out 35mm screening and Q&A for the musical short film, All Too Well, to Hilary and Chelsea Clinton showcasing their documentary series, Visionaries.

Nicolas Cage made an appearance to promote his western drama, Butchers’ Crossing, and director Gabe Polsky possibly dropped some news when he declared Cage “a guy that came here from the hospital because he just had a newborn and is so psyched about the film.” Cage reminisced about his first TIFF appearance in the 1987 Oscar winner, Moonstruck, before declaring what most talent say they have experienced during their Canadian visit. “It was important for me to be here because I think you’re the greatest audience in the world!”


Below is a list of the remaining winners:

Best Short FilmSnow in September (dir. Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir)

Best Canadian ShortSimo (dir. Aziz Zoromba)

#ShareHerJourney AwardNanitic (dir. Carol Nguyen)

NETPAC AwardSweet As (dir. Jub Clerc)

FIPRESCI Jury AwardA Gaza Weekend (dir. Basil Khalil)

Amplify Voices Award for Best Canadian Feature FilmTo Kill a Tiger (dir. Nisha Pahuja)

Amplify Voices AwardLeonor Will Never Die (dir. Martika Ramirez Escobar) and While We Watched (Vinay Shukla)

Shawn Mendes Foundation Changemaker Award Something You Said Last Night (dir. Louis De. Filippis)

Platform Jury Award: Riceboy Sleeps (dir. Anthony Shim)