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“Nomadland” Wins The Audience Award At The Toronto International Film Festival!

It’s still very early, but it’s impossible not to take notice of what Chloe Zhao’s film Nomadland is doing right now. The fall film festival season has launched other movies, like Regina King’s One Night in Miami…, but none like Nomadland. Today, the flick added a pretty big feather in its cap, taking the prestigious Audience Award from the Toronto International Film Festival (with the aforementioned One Night in Miami… as runner up). Taking this prize from TIFF is a huge deal, even in an unusual awards season like this one. What does it mean for its Oscar aspirations? Read on to find out…

So, what exactly does this mean for Nomadland? Looking specifically at the Audience Award and thinking in terms of its history, this is a somewhat reliable indicator of prestige, especially with the Academy. Nomadland now joins a group that has seen a half dozen prior Best Picture winners, along with a whole host of nominees since the prize was introduced in the late 1970’s. Last year, Jojo Rabbit took the prize, the year before that, Green Book won the whole shebang, while previously La La Land became an absolute nomination behemoth, not to mention how Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri did quite well for itself too. There are outliers, but it’s undeniably a good thing to be in this company. Buzz alone is worth a ton to those who are pushing this one for awards (Searchlight Pictures, specifically), in terms of getting anticipation out there for the film. Searchlight especially knows the value of this prize, having won it multiple times in the past. Just look here at the list of what has won since the Audience Award was originally instituted:

1978 – Girlfriends
1979 – Best Boy
1980 – Bad Timing
1981 – Chariots of Fire
1982 – Tempest
1983 – The Big Chill
1984 – Places in the Heart
1985 – The Official Story
1986 – The Decline of the American Empire
1987 – The Princess Bride
1988 – Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
1989 – Roger & Me
1990 – Cyrano de Bergerac
1991 – The Fisher King
1992 – Strictly Ballroom
1993 – The Snapper
1994 – Priest
1995 – Antonia
1996 – Shine
1997 – The Hanging Garden
1998 – Life Is Beautiful
1999 – American Beauty
2000 – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
2001 – Amélie
2002 – Whale Rider
2003 – Zatōichi
2004 – Hotel Rwanda
2005 – Tsotsi
2006 – Bella
2007 – Eastern Promises
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire
2009 – Precious
2010 – The King’s Speech
2011 – Where Do We Go Now?
2012 – Silver Linings Playbook
2013 – 12 Years a Slave
2014 – The Imitation Game
2015 – Room
2016 – La La Land
2017 – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
2017 – Green Book
2019 – Jojo Rabbit
2019 – Nomadland

Here now are all of the TIFF Award Winners:

A longstanding tradition at TIFF, the People’s Choice Award is celebrating its 43rd year. Audiences watching films at the RBC Lakeside Drive-In at Ontario Place, the Visa Skyline Drive-In at CityView, the West Island Open-Air Cinema at Ontario Place, OLG Play Stage at Ontario Place, TIFF Bell Lightbox, and at home via digital screenings on the Bell Digital Cinema platform voted online. All films in TIFF’s Official Selection were eligible.
The TIFF 2020 People’s Choice Award winner is: N​omadland​, dir. Chloé Z​hao.The first runnerup is ​One Night in Miami…,​ dir. Regina King. The second runner up is B​eans,​ dir. Tracey Deer.
The TIFF 2020 People’s Choice Documentary Award winner is I​nconvenient Indian,​d​ir. Michelle Latimer. The TIFF 2020 People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award winner is S​ hadow In The Cloud​, dir. Roseanne

Presented by the Shawn Mendes Foundation, the 2020 Changemaker Award is awarded to a Festival film that tackles issues of social change, and comes with a $10,000 cash prize. The winning film was selected by TIFF’s Next Wave Committee, a group of young film lovers who recognize cinema’s power to transform the world. The Shawn Mendes Foundation will also be making an annual contribution in support of TIFF Next Wave, helping TIFF deliver key initiatives to elevate young voices. The jurors for the Changemaker Award are members of TIFF’s Next Wave Committee: Saharla Ugas, Sia Mehta, Emanuel Ntwig, Julia Yoo, Daeja Sutherland, Lina Zhang, Delphine Winton, Joe Ning, Caterina Ferrari, Visaree Bradshaw-Coore, Andrea Landaeta, and Diego Lopez.
The 2020 Changemaker Award is awarded to ​Black Bodies​, a short film by​ Kelly Fyffe-Marshall.
On making the announcement, the jury said Fyffe-Marshall’s film perfectly fits the criteria and aims of the award. Through its striking visuals and sound design, combined with spoken word, the film powerfully captures the emotional and physical trauma Black people experience and the injustice of police brutality against them. These are issues the Committee felt are particularly important and relevant to young people today.
“KellyFyffe-Marshall’sB​ lackBodies​p​ owerfullyshowswhatitislikeforBlackpeopletoliveinanunjust society,” said the Committee. “It is moving because the words are too real, it hurts because of all the lives lost to police brutality, and it reminds us how unjust it is that we live in a world where we as young people need to fight to affirm that Black Lives Matter. It is activism against police brutality in moving colour. We’re honoured to award this prize to such a talented and important emerging filmmaker and social activist in our community.”
“It is such a blessing to receive this award, to be acknowledged, to be seen and to be heard,” said Fyffe-Marshall. “Thank you to the Shawn Mendes Foundation and to the Toronto International Film Festival. I want to use this special moment to further push for change. This year the world seemed to have paused, and we finally heard the call for equality. What we are being called to do doesn’t take much. We just need each of us to do what we can, where we can, and make ripples where we are.”

Canada Goose embraces diversity in all its forms and definitions, including technique and passion that transports storytelling to the screen. This year, Canada Goose presents the Amplify Voices Awards to the three best feature films by under-represented filmmakers. All feature films in Official Selection by BIPOC and Canadian filmmakers were eligible for these awards, and the three winners will receive a cash prize of $10,000 each, made possible by Canada Goose.
The three Amplify Voices Awards presented by Canada Goose winners are:
Amplify Voices Award for Best Canadian Feature Film:​ ​Inconvenient Indian,​ dir. Michelle Latimer
Jury’s statement: “Michelle Latimer’s documentary is a deeply thought-provoking adaptation of Thomas King’s classic non-fiction book. It is a scorching indictment that interrogates the narratives we tell about ourselves and whose humanity is valued in that exercise. Expansive yet pulsing with energy and life, it ponders big questions and harkens the coming of a new era of truth and reclamation.”
Special Mention:​ ​Fauna,​ dir. Nicolás Pereda (Canadian Film)
Jury’s statement: “​ ​Tonally precise, with a cunning sense of humour, and led by brilliant performances, this film unpacks the influence of violent stereotypes in popular culture on the Mexican psyche.”
Amplify Voices Award: ​The Disciple​, dir. Chaitanya Tamhane
Jury’s statement:​ “​Masterful in its restraint, this film about a struggling classical Indian musician explores the tension between traditional discipline and the contemporary impulse to be instantly validated. The Disciple is a visually sumptuous and insightful journey into the life of an artist.”
Amplify Voices Award:​ N​ ight of the Kings,​ dir. Philippe Lacôte
Jury’s statement:​ “​A bold distinctive voice that pushes the boundaries of traditional cinematic storytelling, weaving together myth and reality in a beguiling trance of a movie. The film seduces with its captivating performances from newcomer Koné Bakary and a chorus of performers moving in rhythmic harmony.”
SpecialMention:​Downstream toKinshasa,​​d​ir.Dieudo Hamadi
Jury’s statement:​ “​A visceral gut punch of a documentary that explores the courage and determination of survivors of war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A harrowing boat journey becomes a visual metaphor of their struggle to be recognized and their resilience in the face of adversity.”

The 2020 jurors for the Amplify Voices Awards presented by Canada Goose are actor Sarah Gadon, filmmaker Danis Goulet, and producer Damon D’Oliveira.
The2020IMDbProShortCutsAwardsareforBestFilm,BestCanadianFilm,and,newthisyear,theS​ hare Her Journey Award​ for best film by a woman. IMDbPro will provide each of the three winners with a bursary of $10,000 CAD and a one-year membership to ​IMDbPro,​ the essential resource for entertainment industry professionals, to help them continue achieving success in their careers. These awards build on IMDbPro’s nearly 20-year history of empowering entertainment professionals to discover new talent and projects, and on its ongoing commitment to supporting and collaboratively working with organizations that create greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in the entertainment industry, including TIFF’s Share Her Journey campaign. The winners of the three awards are:
IMDbPro Short Cuts Award for Best Film:​ D​ ustin,​ dir. Naïla Guiguet
Jury’s statement: “Dustin Muchuvitz’s performance pulled us on a journey from night into morning that still lingered with us long after the film ended. Naïla Guiguet has offered us a relatable yet often unseen perspective on growing apart.”
IMDbPro Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Film:​ Benjamin, Benny, Ben,​ dir. Paul Shkordoff
Jury’s statement: “A quiet yet powerful fim that told us so much about race and class through simple but focused direction.”
IMDbPro Short Cuts Share Her Journey Award:​ ​Sing Me a Lullaby​, dir. Tiffany Hsiung
Jury’s statement: “This film offered viewers an emotional look at resolving generational trauma.”
Honourablemention:​OBlackHole!,​​d​ ir.ReneeZhan
The 2020 jurors for the IMDbPro Short Cuts Awards are filmmakers Stella Meghie, Adam Piron, and Chloé

Stay tuned fore more on Nomadland!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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