Woo hoo!

Denys Arcand’s Barbarian Invasions wins best Cdn feature at Toronto film fest
TORONTO (CP) — The Barbarian Invasions, Quebec filmmaker Denys Arcand’s much-lauded sequel to his 1980s film Decline of the American Empire, was a big winner at the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival.
A reflection of the intergenerational changes going on in Quebec society, it won the Toronto-City Award for best Canadian feature film, while a Japanese film, Takeshi Kitano’s Zatoichi — a mythic story of a seemingly frail masseur who is actually the deadliest swordsman in the land — won the People’s Choice Award, voted on by festival audiences.
“This is a great festival, by the way,” Arcand said as he accepted his trophy at an awards brunch Sunday. “You people don’t know how lucky you are. I mean, this is the greatest, such a great festival run by people who love films and filmmakers and who treat us so wonderfully. You’re very lucky and I am very lucky, so thank you very much.”
Arcand’s film was the festival’s opening gala Sept. 4.
Other winners include:
— Rhinoceros Eyes, a Canada-U.S. co-production by Toronto’s Aaron Woodley, about a man with a loose grip on reality, won the Discovery Award.
— Aspiration, by Montrealer Constant Mentzas, a lyrical examination of a man’s silent anguish and isolation, took the Best Canadian Short Film award.
— Love, Sex and Eating the Bones, by Torontonian Sudz Sutherland, a fun and sexy look at contemporary urban relationships, won the Citytv Award for Best Canadian First Feature.
— November, from Spanish director Achero Manas, won the FIPRESCI Prize, awarded by a jury of international film critics for “its freshness, its original blending of fiction and documentary techniques, its humanistic message and the high quality of all performances.”
Over its 10-day run, the festival, now regarded as the most important in North America and second only to Cannes globally, showed 339 films from 55 countries, including 63 world and 104 North American premieres.
Festival director Piers Handling concluded the 28th edition of the annual film fest was pretty amazing.
“We ducked the bullet of SARS, luckily,” Handling said, conceding they were wondering just what kind of festival it would be after months of uncertainty over the outbreak that wreaked havoc on the city’s economy and kept tourists away in droves.
“Whether the films would be here, whether the stars would be here, and clearly at the end of it all, it was perhaps our most successful edition.”
Arcand, who had just returned to Toronto overnight from promotional visits to London, Paris and Berlin, admitted he was jet-lagged but immensely pleased and grateful.
“A lot of filmmakers would love to be in my shoes right now, I’m not complaining,” he said. “It’s a nice feeling when you see that you’ve touched people, that they appreciate what you do.”
Admitting he was overwhelmed and stunned by his award, Woodley could offer only a “Wow!” at first.
He said just to be invited to the festival was honour enough, but had a special thanks for his mother, Denise Cronenberg, who was also the film’s costume designer as well as, he added, an inspiration.
“This award is for you, mom, thank you!” he said to applause.
Aspirations director Mentzas carried humility to new lengths when he conceded to the audience that he thought his short film was slow-moving.
“It has really not had high ratings among viewers. You know, most people think it’s really slow and they really took a wonderful risk in screening it. And I really would like to thank the jury for (sitting) through it and not falling asleep.”
Sutherland said he began as a volunteer at the Toronto festival and that it was a dream to be invited now as a filmmaker.
“You know the story. It’s sweat and tears and blood.”
Runners-up in the People Choice Award category included Ron Mann’s Go Further and The Corporation by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott.
Neither Manas nor any representative of his film was present so the award was accepted by FIPRESCI jury president Dan Fainaru.
“I am going to take this diploma with me, carry it to San Sebastian where the film is being shown in competition, and give it to him personally. At least I know he’ll get it.”