Alejandro Monteverde’s “Bella” from Mexico won the people’s choice prize at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival.

by Eugene Hernandez of Indie Wire (September 16, 2006)

While some industry insiders bemoaned the lack of deal-making midway through the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, organizers at the festival are confident that when all is said and done the event will see a record number of acquisitions of new films by U.S. distributors.

Toronto festival co-director Noah Cowan sat down for a lengthy conversation with indieWIRE yesterday to survey this year’s market and on Saturday he joined his colleague Piers Handling on stage to present the festival’s seven prizes, including the festival audience award to Alejandro Monteverde’s “Bella.”

Alejandro Monteverde’s “Bella” from Mexico won the people’s choice prize at the festival, while the FIPRESCI film critics award went to Gabriel Range’s “Death of a President” and the award for a film in the Discovery section was presented to Joachim Trier for his film, “Reprise.” In other awards, the new cultural innovation prize for a film in event’s Visions section went to “Takva – A Man’s Fear of God” directed by Ozer Kiziltan and in awards to Canadian films, Jennifer Baichwal’s “Manufactured Landscapes” won the best Canadian film award, while Noel Mitrani’s “Sur la trace d’Igor Rizzi” (“On the Trail of Igor Rizzi”) won the prize for best Canadian first feature film and Maxime Giroux’s “Les Jours” (“The Days”) won the Short Cuts Canada prize.

Set in New York, Monteverde’s feature directing debut “Bella” found its U.S. distribution prospects brightened in light of Saturday’s Toronto audience prize. An emotional story about a recently fired waitress who finds out she’s pregnant, the film sees her facing the prospect of no money and no emotional support until she finds a friend facing his own demons and through her new ally, she decides to reevaluate her own future. The Spanish language title, one of just two films being sold by ICM in Toronto, will be screened again in New York and Los Angeles for buyers as reps eye a deal for the film.

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