Imitation Game wins Toronto top prize

By Genevieve Hassan
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

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image captionDirector Morten Tyldum has described the film as "a tribute to being different"

Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game has won the People's Choice award at the Toronto Film Festival.

Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch stars in the drama about the British code breaker who helped decrypt the Enigma machine during World War Two.

In a message, director Morten Tyldum said it was "an amazing honour" to win the prize.

"For film fans to support the Imitation Game means so much to me, the entire cast and film-making team," he said.

Turing was credited with bringing about the end of the war and saving hundreds of thousands of lives after decoding German Naval messages.

He is also considered to be the founding father of the modern-day computer.

However his later life was overshadowed after a conviction in 1952 for gross indecency when homosexuality was illegal in Britain.

He was chemically castrated and committed suicide in 1954.

Earlier this week Tyldum described the film as "a tribute to being different".

Winners of the People's Choice award - voted for by the public - have previously gone on to win the Oscar for best picture, including The King's Speech, Slumdog Millionaire and last year's 12 Years a Slave.

The Imitation Game's victory suggests it may feature prominently in this coming awards' season.

Sir Ben Kingsley's romantic comedy Learning to Drive, in which the actor stars as a Sikh taxi driver and driving instructor alongside Patricia Clarkson, was named first runner-up for the top prize.

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image captionLearning to Drive was the first runner-up for the top prize

Comedy drama St Vincent, starring Bill Murray as a cantankerous war veteran who finds himself having to look after his neighbour's young son, was the second runner-up.

The People's Choice documentary award went to Hajooj Kuka's Beats of the Antonov which follows the story of Sudanese cattle farmers.

Do I Sound Gay?, directed by US journalist and film-maker David Thorpe, was the first runner-up with Ethan Hawke's musical documentary, Seymour: An Introduction, the second runner-up.

The third People's Choice prize in the Midnight Madness programme went to vampire film What We Do in the Shadows.

Flight of the Conchords star Jermaine Clement, who wrote, directed and starred in the movie, collected the award, joking that the "subject matter" of the film were unable to attend the ceremony because it was during the day.

Kevin Smith horror Tusk and Samuel L Jackson film Big Game were the first and second runners-up respectively.

Speaking at the awards' brunch on the last day of the festival, chief executive officer Piers Handling said it had "been a fun 11 days - the buzz of the city was fantastic".

Artistic director Cameron Bailey added: "It's sad, but it's only 356 days to the next one."

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image captionRichard Gere stars in the Oren Moverman film Time Out of Mind

The Toronto Film Festival will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2015.

Other prize winners determined by jury were as follows:

  • Award for world or international Asian film premiere: Margarita, with a Straw - directed by Shonali Bose
  • Jury prize for best special presentation film: Time Out of Mind - directed by Oren Moverman
  • Critics prize: May Allah Bless France! - directed by Abd Al Malik
  • Best Canadian feature: Felix and Meira - directed by Maxime Giroux
  • Best Canadian first feature: Bang Bang Baby - directed by Jeffrey St Jules
  • Best international short film: A Single Body - directed by Sotiris Dounoukos
  • Best Canadian short film: The Weatherman and the Shadow Boxer - directed by Randall Okita.