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Bella wins audience choice award... a bit early

Strongly suggesting that the "audience choice award" at the Toronto International Film Festival is not based on the actual ballots filled out by audience members, news of this year's winner, Bella, leaked almost an hour before the final screening of the film had even begun this afternoon.

Festivalgoers have long suspected that the ballots handed out at every screening at the festival were being shovelled into the nearest convenient furnace as soon as they are turned in, and TIFF's awkward timing with the Bella news may have inadvertently conceded the point. I was literally in the rush line at the Varsity with audience members hoping to get in to see the film when a Bella booster came around to announce the film's win and hand out celebratory postcards.

Now, the announcement has not yet reached the TIFF web site so this news must still be taken with a grain of salt. But the TIFF staff at the Varsity have confirmed that Bella is indeed the winner, and that the official announcement will be made prior to the film's final screening at 2:45 p.m.

I wonder if that final audience will be encouraged to vote or not.


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