Alan Zweig’s documentary Hurt has won the Toronto International Film Festival’s first Platform Prize. The prestige alone is nice, but it’s also sweetened with 25,000 Canadian dollars. Announcing the lineup in August, TIFF declared that “the new juried program… champions director’s cinema from around the world.” And what jurors: Claire Denis, Agnieszka Holland, and Jia Zhangke. The decision’s unanimous, they say. Hurt “is a film that explores the complexity and fragility of human destiny in a country that much of the world sees as a paradise.” Honorable mentions go to Gabriel Mascaro’s Neon Bull, He Ping’s The Promised Land, and Pablo Trapero’s The Clan.
Adam Nayman‘s reviewed Hurt for Cinema Scope: “Real-life stories don’t come much more metaphorically resonant than that of Steve Fonyo, the B.C.-born amputee who followed in Terry Fox’s footsteps in a cross-Canada run for cancer research in 1985—an inspirational route that has led him 30 years later into total ruin. The mystery of how a national hero was so severely diminished in every aspect of his life is at once addressed and sidelined by Alan Zweig’s film, which is more interested in Fonyo as a kind of picaresque character—hobbling, drug-addled but unbowed, between rundown homes and romantic partners—than as a case study in self-destructive celebrity pathology.”
Zweig “ensures the doc is more than just white-trash reality TV,” argues Whitney Mallett at Filmmaker. “Firstly, because of the palpable respect, he has for the characters on-camera. But also because he weaves in footage of Fonyo from the height of his 15 minutes of fame, full of patriotic pomp and ceremony. Zweig does it in a way that suggests lionizing people sometimes has consequences. He asks, do our heroes owe us something or do we actually owe them?”
The People’s Choice Award goes to Lenny Abrahamson’s Room. First runner-up: Pan Nalin’s Angry Indian Goddesses. Second runner-up: Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight.
People’s Choice Award For Documentary: Evgeny Afineevsky’s Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom. First runner-up: Avi Lewis’s This Changes Everything. Second runner-up: Brian D. Johnson’s Al Purdy Was Here.
People’s Choice Award For Midnight Madness: Ilya Naishuller’s Hardcore. First runner-up Todd Strauss-Schulson’s The Final Girls. Second runner-up: Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room.
Best Canadian Feature Film: Stephen Dunn’s Closet Monster. Honorable mention: Philippe Falardeau’s My Internship in Canada. The City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film goes to Andrew Cividino’s Sleeping Giant.
The Shorts Cuts Award for Best Canadian Short Film goes to Patrice Laliberté’s Overpass. Honorable mention: Sol Friedman’s Bacon & God’s Wrath. The Short Cuts Award for Best Short Film goes to Maïmouna Doucouré’s Maman(s). Honorable mention: Fyzal Boulifa’s Rate Me.
The Prize of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) for the Discovery program goes to Marko Škop’s Eva Nová. And the FIPRESCI Prize for Special Presentations is awarded to Jonás Cuarón’s Desierto.
The Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) Award for World or International Asian Film Premiere goes to Sion Sono for The Whispering Star.
Updates, 9/24: “Zweig’s camera is both empathetic and demanding, fixing on Fonyo’s disarray yet also often intervening with challenging questions, suggestions, and towards the end, professional help,” writes Eric Hynes of Hurt for Film Comment. “The film doesn’t have to be about Zweig in order for him to participate in it—nor does the inclusion of his own voice necessarily make the film about him. In a sense he’s a conduit for an exasperated audience, pressing Fonyo to reckon with his delusions and self-destructiveness, but he’s also an honest, present, intimate witness: an unseen but deeply vital character.”
“To say that it was one of the delights at TIFF may not seem to fit its subject, but it held my interest—and more—as much as anything at the festival,” adds David D’Arcy at Artinfo. “Hurt is a tour of the dark side of celebrity, told by a man who sank from stardom to addiction, but may have found fame again, or at least notoriety, with this documentary.”