Docs

TIFF ’13: Zweig, Noujaim win top awards

When Jews Were Funny picked up the prize for Best Canadian Feature, while The Square (pictured) won the People's Choice Documentary Award at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.
September 15, 2013

When Jews Were Funny picked up the prize for Best Canadian Feature, while The Square (pictured) won the People’s Choice Documentary Award at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

When Jews Were Funny, a documentary about Jewish humor from Canadian director Alan Zweig, was the surprise winner of the Best Canadian Feature award, beating out all eligible Canadian narrative works.

In taking to the stage to accept the CAD$30,000 (US$29,130) prize at TIFF’s awards brunch yesterday (September 15), Zweig joked: “I’ve been on juries, I know how these compromise wins happen. You guys are going to have a lot of explaining to do.”

He went on to add: “Basically, for the last couple months I’ve been walking around thinking that I’m making my worst film ever. And when it got into TIFF I was like, ‘Oh, this is horrible. My worst film ever at TIFF.’ I just made my best film, it was at Hot Docs, how come you couldn’t reverse things?”

Meanwhile, TIFF audiences chose to laud three female directors with the People’s Choice Documentary Award. Jehane Noujaim’s The Square took the prize, with Alanis Obomsawin’s Hi-Ho Mistahey! named first runner-up and Leanne Pooley’s Beyond the Edge named second runner-up.

For The Square, which follows protesters in Egypt, the victory marks a remarkable double – an earlier version of the film picked up the audience award for world cinema documentary at Sundance in January. In addition, the doc also received the Tim Hetherington Award at this year’s Sheffield Doc/Fest.

Taking to the stage to accept the audience award, Noujaim dedicated The Square‘s win to “people who are fighting relentlessly for their rights, even when there is no hope or light at the end of the tunnel” in Egypt. She also dedicated the prize to John Greyson and Tarek Loubani, who remain imprisoned in Egypt.

Finally, Neil Rathbone’s animated documentary The Chaperone 3D received an honorable mention in the Best Canadian Short Film Category.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.

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