Novice director wins at Toronto First-time Mexican director Alejandro Gomez Monteverde was the main winner at the Toronto Film Festival with his movie Bella winning the audience award.

The critics’ best film prize went to the controversial Death of a President, a mock documentary imagining the assassination of George Bush.

“I really hope that this is not a dream and that I don’t wake up at film school,” said Monteverde.

“This festival is my first. It’s my first film. It’s my first everything.”

The Canadian festival, which has been running for 10 days, played host to hundreds of premieres, with many independent films among the offerings.

The annual awards place an emphasis on audience favourites, with the critics’ opinions taking a back seat.

Last year’s People Choice award winner was South African film Tsotsi, which went on to win the best foreign language prize at the Academy Awards.

This year’s winner, Bella, is a tale of two people who meet in New York and how they go on to make an impact on each others’ lives.

Director Monteverde, 29, has previously made one short film, Waiting for Trains. His wife, Ali Landry, takes one of the lead roles in his first feature film.

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