‘American Fiction’ Wins Toronto Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award – Oscar Harbinger?

The People’s Choice Award from the just-wrapped 2023 Toronto Film Festival has gone to Cord Jefferson’s American Fiction. First Runner-Up is Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers. Second Runner-Up is Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron. The Documentary Award goes to Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe, and the Midnight Madness winner is Dicks: The Musical.

Orion and MRC’s American Fiction stars Jeffrey Wright and comes from writer-director Jefferson. It is a scathing satire on the publishing industry and its treatment of serious works by Black writers, one whose name is Thelonious “Monk” Ellison. He travels back to his hometown of Boston to attend a book festival, but the turnout is low in favor of another book seminar with author Sintara Golden’s (Issa Rae) bestseller We Lives in Da Ghetto. It is scheduled to be released in theaters in November.

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Voted by audience members since 1978 and often considered a harbinger for the Best Picture Oscar, the TIFF People’s Choice Award has been won by such eventual Best Picture Academy Award winners as Nomadland, Green Book, 12 Years a Slave, The King’s Speech, Slumdog Millionaire, American Beauty and Chariots of Fire. Among those that went on to Best Picture nominations include last year’s winner The Fabelmans as well as Belfast, JoJo Rabbit, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, Room, La La Land, The Imitation Game, Silver Linings Playbook, Precious, Life Is Beautiful, Places in the Heart and The Big Chill.

Here is a list of all the 2023 TIFF Award Winners:


Short Cuts Award for Best Film: Electra, dir. Daria Kashcheeva
Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Film: Motherland, dir. Jasmin Mozaffari
Share Her Journey Award: Shé (Snake), dir. Renee Zhan
Honourable Mention: Gaby’s Hills, dir. Zoé Pelchat
Jayant Digambar Somalkar’s A Match

Seagrass, dir. Meredith Hama-Brown

Best BIPOC Canadian Feature: Kanaval, dir. Henri Pardo
Best BIPOC Canadian First Feature Award: Tautuktavuk (What We See), dirs. Carol Kunnuk, Lucy Tulugarjuk

The 2023 Amplify Voices Trailblazer Award was presented to Damon D’Oliveira, producer.  

Solo, dir. Sophie Dupuis
(Honorable Mention): Kanaval, dir. Henri Pardo

We Grown Now, dir. Minhal Baig.

Dear Jassi, dir. Tarsem Singh Dhandwar.


The TIFF 2023 People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award winner is Dicks: The Musical dir. Larry Charles.
The first runner-up is Kill dir. Nikhil Nagesh Bhat.
The second runner-up is Hell of a Summer dirs. Finn Wolfhard, Billy Bryk.

The TIFF 2023 People’s Choice Documentary Award winner is Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe dir. Robert McCallum. 
The first runner-up is Summer Qamp dir. Jen Markowitz.
The second runner-up is Mountain Queen: The Summits of Lhakpa Sherpa dir. Lucy Walker.

The TIFF 2023 People’s Choice Award winner is: American Fiction dir. Cord Jefferson.
The first runner-up is The Holdovers dir. Alexander Payne. 
The second runner-up is The Boy and the Heron dir. Hayao Miyazaki.  

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