People/Biz

TIFF ’21: “The Rescue” and “Dionne Warwick” highlight doc award winners

The 2021 Toronto International Film Festival concluded on Saturday, Sept. 18, unveiling award recipients for the 46th edition of the festival. The TIFF 2021 People’s Choice Documentary Award was won by ...
September 20, 2021

The 2021 Toronto International Film Festival concluded on Saturday, Sept. 18, unveiling award recipients for the 46th edition of the festival.

The TIFF 2021 People’s Choice Documentary Award was won by The Rescue, directed by E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, a film covering the rescue of a Thai soccer team that was trapped in a cave for 16 days.

Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over, a documentary directed by Dave Wooley and David Heilbroner on the singer’s six-decade career in music and Black and LGBTQ activism, was named the first runner-up to the award. And Flee, an animated documentary from Danish director Jonas Poher Rasmussen about a man’s journeys as a child refugee from Afghanistan, was named the second runner-up.

Audiences watching movies at various cinemas around Toronto, and via digital screenings online, vote on TIFF’s People’s Choice Awards each year. All of the films in TIFF’s official selection that screened in person and digitally at the festival were eligible.

Indigenous documentary filmmaker, writer and activist Alanis Obomsawin, of the Abenaki Nation, was honored at the TIFF awards event with the Jeff Skoll Award in Impact Media, for work throughout her career creating stories since 1967 that focus primarily on First Nations issues in Canada. Obomsawin’s new short film Honour to Senator Murray Sinclair, which intersperses testimonies from residential school survivors in a speech given by the former senator, premiered at TIFF this year.

Warwick was also honored with a Special Tribute Award by TIFF following the world premiere of Don’t Make Me Over at TIFF.

Payal Kapadia’s documentary A Night of Knowing Nothing was also recognized at TIFF this year with one of the festival’s Amplify Voices awards. The documentary is structured around letters from an unseen protagonist to an estranged lover, interwoven with handheld documentary footage captured around India over several years. The Amplify Voices Awards recognize three feature films made by under-represented filmmakers, as chosen by a jury. All feature films in TIFF’s official selection by emerging BIPOC and Canadian filmmakers were eligible for these awards, with winners receiving a $10,000 cash prize.

“2021 brought an exceptional selection of films that excited Festival audiences around the world,” said Joana Vicente¬†and Cameron Bailey, TIFF co-heads, in a statement.

“Our lineup showcased beloved auteurs alongside fresh voices in filmmaking, including numerous women powerhouses. TIFF welcomed guest press, industry, international stars, and directors back to the city and into cinemas. The sweeping range in cinematic storytelling from around the world is a testament to the uniqueness of the films that are being made.”

The TIFF Tribute Awards were broadcast on Saturday evening, raising funds for the festival’s diversity, equity and inclusion fund, Every Story.

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