TIFF: “American Fiction” wins Toronto Film Festival

TIFF: “American Fiction” wins Toronto Film Festival

Cord Jefferson’s directorial debut addresses the stereotypes about black people in the US literary industry. The satire thrilled audiences at the Toronto Film Festival.

Cord Jefferson’s biting satire “American Fiction,” about an African-American academic who challenges stereotypes about blacks in the literary industry, is the winning film at the 48th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

Based on Percival Everett’s novel Erased, Jefferson’s directorial debut portrays a disillusioned author (Jeffrey Wright) who is annoyed that books by black authors only seem to succeed when they limit themselves to stories of slavery, trauma or poverty.

When his agent (John Ortiz) tells him that his latest work isn’t “black enough,” Thelonious “Monk” Ellison (Wright) hatches a plan: under a pseudonym, he writes a book that, in his opinion, is the worst and worst contains the most pandering clichés in the representation of black people. But the work, intended as a parody, becomes a sensational success – and Monk has to continue the charade.

Enthusiastic audience

Wright plays the angry Monk with cynical precision: his frustration with the question of who defines “blackness” quickly turns him into someone who puts others in boxes. His obsession with proving that he doesn’t fit the stereotype of the poor, incarcerated black man becomes an insult to his fellow black writers and makes him increasingly condescending.

“American Fiction,” which also stars Sterling K. Brown and Tracee Ellis Ross, thrilled the Toronto audience, which traditionally chooses the winner at TIFF instead of a jury.

“Thank you for this incredible honor. Winning this award is beyond my wildest dreams,” Jefferson said in a video message on X, formerly Twitter, after the winning film was announced. The experienced TV writer has worked on hit series such as “Watchmen” and “Succession”. Presenting his first film at TIFF “was the greatest honor of my life,” said Jefferson.

Second place went to Alexander Payne’s “The Holdovers,” starring Paul Giamatti as a grumpy boarding school teacher who takes in a handful of students over the Christmas holidays in the 1970s. Hayao Miyazaki’s anime film “The Boy and the Heron” came in third.

Best Documentary: “Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe”

For best documentary, the audience voted Robert McCallum’s “Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe,” about the life and career of children’s show entertainer Ernie Coombs. Second place went to “Summer Qamp” by Jen Markowitz, followed by Lucy Walker’s “Mountain Queen: The Summits of Lhakpa Sherpa.”

The Platform Award, which is awarded by an international jury, went to the drama “Dear Jassi” by Tarsem Singh Dhandwar. This year’s Platform jury consisted of Barry Jenkins, Nadine Labaki and Anthony Shim.

At the ten-day film festival in Toronto, almost 240 films competed for the audience’s attention. Among other things, Hanna Slak’s drama “Kein Wort” with Maren Eggert, as well as “Achilles” by Farhad Delaram and the road movie “Arthur & Diana” (Sara Summa) celebrated their world premiere at the TIFF. The 48th season of the film festival was influenced by the Hollywood strike – significantly fewer stars came to Toronto than in previous years.

Source: Stern

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