Toronto Film Fest Honors Its Best

by W. Andrew Powell
TIFF 2003
TIFF 2003

After unspooling 339 films, which included 63 world premieres and 104 North American premieres, over 10 days, the 28th Toronto International Film Festival has faded to black – wrapping up yesterday with its annual Awards Brunch.

Some of the winners included Love, Sex and Eating The Bones for Citytv’s Best Canadian First Feature Film, and Zatoichi, for the AGF People’s Choice Award.

The big prize for the fest however, the City Award for the Best Canadian Feature Film, went to Denys Arcand‘s Les Invasions Barbares, which is a sequel to his critically acclaimed The Decline of the American Empire. Along with the fancy award, Archand also takes home a prize of $30,000.

Here’s the full list of winners:

AGF People’s Choice Award
Sponsored by one of the Festival’s major supporters, the AGF People’s Choice Award is voted on by Festival audiences – known worldwide for their enthusiasm and love of cinema.

The 2003 award goes to Takeshi Kitano‘s Zatoichi, the mythic story of a blind, roving, seemingly frail masseur who is also the deadliest swordsman in the land.

The first runner-up is Ron Mann‘s Go Further, which follows actor and activist Woody Harrelson and a crew of fellow activists on what Harrelson calls the Simple Organic Living tour down the Pacific Coast of the USA.

The second runner-up, The Corporation, by filmmakers Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott, is a timely, critical, and engaging documentary that probes the history, ideology, and impact of this most dominant institution of our times.

Discovery Award
The press corps, which consists of more than 750 international media, voted on the Discovery Award.

The recipient of the Discovery Award is Toronto filmmaker Aaron Woodley for Rhinoceros Eyes, a dark fantastical tale about a prop-house employee, Chep (Michael Pitt), who has a loose grip on reality.

Award For Best Canadian Short Film
The Award for Best Canadian Short Film, a $10,000 cash prize, was presented to Montreal’s Constant Mentzas for Aspiration, a lyrical examination of a man’s silent anguish and isolation.

The jury was composed of actor Arsinée Khanjian and filmmakers Philip Hoffman and Philippe Falardeau.

“This work challenges the inherent boundaries of the short film by inventing a powerful construction of cinematic time. It is an uncompromising exploration of the essence of being.”


The Citytv Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film and the Toronto – City Award for Best Canadian Feature Film were selected by a jury composed of Kyle Rae, City of Toronto Councillor, filmmaker Jeremy Podeswa, filmmaker William D. MacGillivray, Fiona Mitchell, Independent Film Production and Distribution Consultant, and Isme Bennie, Director of Programming and Acquisitions for Space, Bravo! and Drive-In Classics.

Citytv Award For Best Canadian First Feature Film
For its fast paced, brazen look at contemporary relationships, the Citytv Award for Best Canadian First Feature goes to Toronto filmmaker Sudz Sutherland for Love, Sex And Eating The Bones.

This fun and sexy film welcomes a fresh and vibrant new voice. Established by sponsor Citytv, the award carries a cash prize of $15,000 and is presented to a Canadian filmmaker whose first feature film is considered exemplary.

This award acknowledges the fresh new talent emerging within Canadian cinema.

Toronto – City Award For Best Canadian Feature Film
“In this film, the profound complexities of the modern world are reflected through the lives of its beautifully wrought characters,” says the jury.

“This work exhibits a clarity and refinement of storytelling from a filmmaker at the peak of his form. For its wit, wisdom and compassion, the Toronto – City Award for Best Canadian Feature Film goes to Denys Arcand‘s Les Invasions Barbares.”

Presented annually at the Toronto International Film Festival and generously co-sponsored by The City of Toronto and Citytv, the Toronto – City Award for Best Canadian Feature Film carries a cash prize of $30,000.

Fipresci Prize
The Fipresci Prize is awarded to November, from Spanish director Achero Mañas, “for its freshness, its original blending of fiction and documentary techniques, its humanistic message, and the high quality of all the performances.”

For the 12th consecutive year, the Festival welcomed an international Fipresci jury. This prize is annually bestowed upon a feature film directed by an emerging filmmaker, and making its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The 2003 jury was comprised of Jury President, Dan Fainaru of Screen International, Sheila Benson from Seattle Weekly, and Luc Chaput from Séquences. For more on the TIFF, check out

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