Chiwetel-Ejiofor-in-12-Years-a-SlaveSteve McQueen’s highly anticipated 12 Years a Slave made its unofficial debut out in Telluride before its official bow at TIFF, and the reviews have been nothing but impressive so far – you can read our own review from Toronto here.

With the festival wrapping last night, it was of course time for the annual awards to be handed out, with the top three categories put to the vote from festivalgoers for the Blackberry’s People Choice Awards. And it should come as no surprise that 12 Years a Slave, which is based on a true story, has walked away as the People’s Choice Award winner.

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars in the lead, with a terrific ensemble led by Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Paul Giamatti, Scoot McNairy, Michael Kenneth Williams, Garrett Dillahunt, Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry, Ruth Negga, Alfre Woodard, and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o.

Sion Sono’s similarly anticipated Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (Jigoku de Naze Warui) has come away as the Midnight Madness winner in the People’s Choice Awards, telling the story of a renegade film crew becoming entangled with a yakuza clan feud in what promises to be a blood-soaked actioner.

And Jehane Noujaim’s The Square (Al Midan) has topped the Documentary category, for her chronicle of activism, unrest, and revolution in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

Last year, it was David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook that walked away from TIFF with the People’s Choice Award. The film of course went on to win Jennifer Lawrence an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, with a further seven nominations in a slew of categories, including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actor for Lawrence’s co-star, Bradley Cooper.

Naturally, with the buzz already surrounding McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, things are looking even better as the awards season gets ever closer. The film will continue on the festival circuit in the coming weeks, with stop-offs next month at the New York Film Festival, the BFI London Film Festival, the New Orleans Film Festival, and the Hamptons International Film Festival.

Sono’s Why Don’t You Play in Hell had its world debut last month out in Venice, and will also be continuing on the festival circuit in the coming weeks, with a stop-off next month here at the BFI London Film Festival as well. So if you’re looking for something with that Midnight Madness flavour, this is clearly going to be a solid choice.

It will then be heading into US cinemas starting with a limited release from October 18th, and has its UK release date set for 24th January, by which time we’ll know if it’s been lived up to the buzz and will be heading to the Oscars.


  • People’s Choice Award – 12 Years a Slave
  • Midnight Madness – Why Don’t You Play in Hell?
  • Documentary – The Square

In the Canadian Awards, as voted for by the Canadian Film Jury:

  • The City of Toronto & Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film – WHEN JEWS WERE FUNNY
  • Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film – ASPHALT WATCHES
  • YouTube Award for Canadian Best Short Film – NOAH

And the International Film Critics’ Award section:

  • FIPRESCI Prize – Discovery: IDA
  • FIPRESCI Prize – Special Presentation: THE AMAZING CATFISH
  • Grolsch Film Works Discovery Award – Gia Milani for ALL THE WRONG REASONS
  • NETPAC Award – QISSA
  • RBC Emerging Filmmakers Competition – Requiem For A Robot