Eastern Promises: Cronenberg’s Thriller Wins Audience Award at Toronto Fest

David Cronenberg’s thriller “Eastern Promises” was chosen best film by audiences at the 32nd Toronto International Film Festival, which wrapped Saturday. Starring Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts, the Focus feature explores the underbelly of a notorious Russian mob family in London when a midwife goes looking for the truth after a teenager dies in childbirth.

First runner up for the award was Jason Reitman’s teen pregnancy comedy “Juno,” followed by “Body of War,” a documentary exploring the consequences of the Iraq war from Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro.

“Cochochi,” the tale of two Raramuri boys and their efforts to find a lost horse, from first time directors Israel Cardenas and Laura Amelia Guzman, took the Diesel Discovery award, selected by the fest’s 1000 accredited international media.

The 16th annual Fipresci international critics prize went to Rodrigo Pla’s debut feature “La Zona,” a Spain/Mexico co-pro that explores the rich/poor divide in Mexico.

Anahi Berneri’s second feature, “Encarnacion,” a tale of the price of emancipation in Argentina starring Silvia Perez, won of the Artistic Innovation Award, selected from 13 eligible films in the fest’s Visions program.

Best Canadian feature kudos went to Guy Maddin’s offbeat “docu-fantasia”

portrait of his childhood and hometown, “My Winnipeg,” while the best first Canuck feature nod went to “Continental, un film sans fusil (Continental, A Film Without Guns),” from Stephane LaFleur, and Christopher Chan Fui Chong’s “Pool,” a portrait of post-tsunami Indonesia, took top Canadian short.

Film Festival Group, currently under construction and recently dubbed Bell Lightbox. Total raised to date is C$137 million ($133 million) of the required $191 million. The Reitman family and the Daniels Corp. kicked the campaign off in 2002 when they donated land and development fees totalling $21 million.

“Quite simply, we would not have a new home on the horizon were it not for the generosity of these people,” said Piers Handling, director and CEO of fest organization. “We went to the marketplace five years ago with very stringent criteria for success for Bell Lightbox: great location, accessibility to public transportation, street presence, and an affinity for the charitable message and vision of TIFFG. Only one presentation came forward with all this and a significant gift as well and that was Ivan, his family and the Daniels Corp.”

Since then the federal and Ontario governments have kicked in $24 million each, and other contributors include the CIBC, the Copyright Collective of Canada, NBC Universal Canada, VISA, Allan Slaight and family, the Brian Linehan Charitable foundation and the fest org board of directors and staff.