For the 39th year in a row, audiences in Toronto, Canada, cast a ballot for their favorite festival films at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, and the Dev Patel starrer, “Lion,” and Mira Nair’s biographical drama film, “The Queen of Katwe,” snagged the first- and the second-runner up spots, respectively.
The two films won the Grolsch People’s Choice Award, which is the audience award for the favorite feature-length film shown at the fest.
The top prize was given to “La La Land,” a musical written and directed by Damien Chazelle.
Patel, Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman star in Garth Davis’ “Lion,” one of the most buzzed-about films of 2016.
“Lion” is a true story of Saroo Brierley, who was adopted by an Australian couple after being separated from his parents in India at the age of five, and who then located his family using Google Earth 25 years later.
Describing this remarkable journey, which is based on Saroo Brierley’s 2013 memoir, “A Long Way Home,” TIFF said that it shows how “home transcends borders and family transcends blood.”
This moving story of hope and faith boasts an international star cast that includes actors Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Tannishtha Chatterjee and Deepti Naval.
“Slumdog Millionaire,” featuring Patel and Freida Pinto in the lead roles, was the recipient of the award in 2008.
During a media interaction in Toronto, Patel was quoted as saying, “In terms of Toronto, it’s really been special. I keep saying, I walked up here with ‘Slumdog’ in my school shoes and a borrowed suit. It’s so nice to be back here, with a bit of facial hair.”
“Queen of Katwe,” which had its world premiere at the fest, follows the true life story of 10-year-old Phiona Mutesi, a chess prodigy from Uganda’s slums. The 124-minute-long film stars “12 Years a Slave” Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo (“Selma”).
Terming the film a “thrilling story of hope and discovery,” TIFF went on to describe the film as a “rousing tale of a brilliant Ugandan girl whose humble life is transformed after she realizes her gift for chess.”
The winners were announced at a ceremony at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto Sept. 18.
The festival roster also included a host of films by Indian American filmmakers, and from India, including Konkona Sen Sharma’s directorial debut “A Death in the Gunj” and Oscar-nominated Indo-Canadian screenwriter, director, and producer Deepa Mehta’s drama, “Anatomy of Violence.”