13 films recognized at TIFF 23 awards, including: American Fiction, Mr. Dressup, and Dicks

by W. Andrew Powell
American Fiction

After 10 days of screenings, conversations, and events, the Toronto International Film Festival drew to a close with a number of awards recognizing the best of the fest.

In total, TIFF recognized 13 films and one trailblazing producer, with $90,000 in award money and bursaries.

The coveted TIFF 2023 People’s Choice Award winner was American Fiction, while Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe won for the People’s Choice Documentary Award, and Dicks: The Musical won the Midnight Madness Award.

Director Sophie Dupuis’ Solo was selected as the 2023 Best Canadian Feature winner. The jury noted that the film “is a specifically intimate and deeply affecting film, full of palpable care and honesty. Whatever your entry point to this film, there is a place for you as part of a larger story and conversation, which is more critical than ever.”

The Amplify Voices Awards, presented by Canada Goose, were awarded to: Kanaval by director Henri Pardo for Best BIPOC Canadian Feature; Tautuktavuk (What We See) by directors Carol Kunnuk and Lucy Tulugarjuk for the Best BIPOC Canadian First Feature Award; and the Amplify Voices Trailblazer Award was presented to Damon D’Oliveira, producer.

Each of the Amplify winners receives a cash prize of $10,000, thanks to Canada Goose.

The 2023 NETPAC Jury selected Jayant Digambar Somalkar’s A Match as this year’s winner, announcing in their statement that they commend “the courage of this year’s winner, a first time feature director, for taking a risk and delivering a story that is enlightening and entertaining. The director worked with a cast of non-actors that not only resulted in a stellar performance, but achieved a level of authenticity needed to drive home the social message. An immersive portrayal of life in an Indian village, highlighting its oppressive patriarchal customs, the NETPAC award this year goes to A Match by Jayant Digambar Somalkar.”

Seagrass by director Meredith Hama-Brown was selected the 2023 FIPRESCI winner, and the jury called it an “intimate, endearing, and wonderfully framed first feature film by young Canadian actor and director Meredith Hama-Brown [that] skillfully deals with subjects like masculinity, family taboos, motherhood, and structural anti-Asian racism.”

Short Cuts Awards for Best Film, Best Canadian Film, and the Share Her Journey Award for best film by a woman were each awarded a bursary of $10,000.

The winners were: Electra, by director Daria Kashcheeva, for Short Cuts Award for Best Film; Motherland by directir Jasmin Mozaffari for Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Film; Shé (Snake) by director Renee Zhan for the Share Her Journey Award. Gaby’s Hills by director Zoé Pelchat was recognized with an Honourable Mention.

The Changemaker Award, “presented to a festival film that explores issues relevant to young people and is focused on themes of social change and youth empowerment,” was awarded to We Grown Now by director Minhal Baig, with a $10,000 prize.

Baig thanked the Next Wave Committee for the award and said, “When I first began interviewing former Cabrini-Green residents years ago, I was deeply moved and surprised by the experiences they shared with me. They spoke both of the challenges and joys of life in a public housing project… I hope the film sparks meaningful cultural conversation.”

Finally, TIFF presented the Platform Award and a $20,000 prize to Dear Jassi by director Tarsem Singh Dhandwar.

“Dear Jassi was a unanimous choice for this year’s Platform Award for its honest and poignant portrayal of a subject matter that still affects large portions of individuals forced to live under the inhumanity of bitter caste systems throughout the globe. The film has the perfect blend of craft, purpose, and faith in its audience, creating a world that is both richly cinematic and steadfastly realistic,” the jury said in a statement.

“We’re grateful to all the audience members, artists, industry professionals, and supporters who graced Toronto’s cinemas, red carpets, meeting spaces, and streets,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF CEO said. “As we recognize award winners today, we thank everyone who contributed to this glorious, collective gift.”

“From the most revered veterans to the freshest new voices, this year’s Festival played host to the diverse range of filmmakers Toronto is known for,” said Anita Lee, TIFF Chief Programming Officer. “And Toronto’s filmgoers turned up in huge numbers to be a part of the celebration. We’re grateful to our film jurors for their invaluable contributions, for championing emerging talent, and for enriching the film community with their expertise and passion.”

TIFF 2018

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