Lebanese foreign film submission ‘Where Do We Go Now?’ wins Toronto’s People’s Choice Award

Posted by · 11:24 am · September 18th, 2011

I can’t say I’m all that aware yet of Nadine Labaki’s “Where Do We Go Now?,” which Guy recently called “a serious-minded comedy with musical elements that premiered to warm reviews in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section, where it earned a special mention from the Ecumenical Jury.” But the film has swooped in and nabbed the Toronto Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award when many were predicting “The Artist” would charm its way to the prize. Expect a domestic distributor to pounce any day now.

The film was recently submitted by Lebanon into the foreign film race, and one of the runners-up in Toronto, Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation,” was also slotted by Iran. So for a festival that usually paves the way for the major categories in an Oscar race (more on that tomorrow), Toronto has actually heated up the race for Best Foreign Language Film. Unexpected and, I might say, entirely refreshing, that.

The audience’s choice for Best Documentary went to “The Island President,” which I was sad to miss at Telluride. The Midnight Madness award went to “The Raid,” which blew up on Twitter the night it screened. Other awards went to “Monsieur Lazhar,” “Avalon,” “The First Man” and short film “Doubles with Slight Pepper.”

So now it looks like, just judging from what I’ve seen/heard from others, we have three solid contenders for a nomination in the foreign film category: “A Separation,” “In Darkness,” “Le Havre” and now, “Where Do We Go Now?” Guy expects “Pina” to get in, but I don’t see that happening, while “Attenberg” and “The Turin Horse” seem incredibly unlikely (but never discount the power of the executive committee).

[Photo: Pathé]

→ 29 Comments Tags: , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

29 responses so far

  • 1 9-18-2011 at 11:49 am

    Gareth Thomas said...

    Very happy for foreign language films to get some spotlight at Toronto!

  • 2 9-18-2011 at 11:58 am

    Lucas said...

    Such a strange win. I didn’t hear the film mentioned once during various chats with people in different lines. Everyone seemed really high on The Descendants and the Pearl Jam film. Incidentally, most people who saw The Artist that I spoke with were disappointed – the hype is too big, and I imagine that’s why it didn’t Peoples Choice.

  • 3 9-18-2011 at 11:59 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    “Incidentally, most people who saw The Artist that I spoke with were disappointed – the hype is too big, and I imagine that’s why it didn’t Peoples Choice.”

    I KNEW this would kick in eventually.

  • 4 9-18-2011 at 12:02 pm

    JJ1 said...

    My expectations are lowered for ‘The Artist’. My impression is that it’s very small, looks nice, well acted, and sweet. Could be dead wrong. But that’s what I’m going with and hoping to be surprised, haha.

    That happened with me last year with ‘The Illusionist’. For whatever reason, my expectations were much higher than what I got.

  • 5 9-18-2011 at 12:16 pm

    Dooby said...

    I think you could Le Havre to your ‘solid contenders’.

  • 6 9-18-2011 at 12:30 pm

    Andrej said...

    Interesting. Looks like the Middle East’s having a strong showing this year with Where Do We Go Now, A Separation, The Island President, and probably Footnote, if the israeli streak’s still kicking.

    I wonder if Chicken with Plums will resurface sometime around the season, though.

  • 7 9-18-2011 at 12:44 pm

    Simone said...

    I’m glad a small FL indie film won the top prize. It did not register on my radar while I was at TIFF. This win helps it’s chances of finding distribution, and be nominated in the FL Oscar category.

    I LOVED the Artist btw.

  • 8 9-18-2011 at 12:45 pm

    Brock Landers said...

    Yeah, I went to a screening of The Artist and while people seemed to enjoy it (including myself), the reaction wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic as I expected. It’s a perfectly good movie, but not spectacular.

    The Descendants reaction was much more enthusiastic (standing ovation, as well as laughter, applause and tears throughout), and I expected that to win. I’d say it’s the front runner for BP at this point, but things are not nearly as clear cut or even as narrowed down as they have been the past few years.

    Haven’t even heard of the one that won.

  • 9 9-18-2011 at 12:51 pm

    Michael said...

    Wow, this is such a nice change of pace. As you mentioned, this winning the people’s choice award over expected Oscar fare totally makes this season so much more entertaining and exciting for once. It’s almost like anything is possible now, and I really like that a lot. I hope this improves the chances that “Where Do We Go Now?” will get nominated, even if nothing about the premise sounds like a film that I would be interested in at all.

  • 10 9-18-2011 at 1:00 pm

    Bill_the_Bear said...

    I loved “Caramel,” so I’m really looking forward to seeing “Where Do We Go Now?”

    “Monsieur Lazhar” won the award for Best Canadian Feature, which sort of makes me wonder if it has a chance of being chosen as the Canadian candidate for the Foreign-Language Film Oscar. They’d have to give it a qualifying run, though, since it’s not opening here in Québec until late October. (They did that, a few years ago, with Denys Arcand’s “L’âge des tenèbres,” so they could do it this year.)

  • 11 9-18-2011 at 1:33 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Dooby: Indeed, Le Havre, too.

  • 12 9-18-2011 at 1:40 pm

    Bryce H. said...

    Looked at the updated predictions: what made you put Theron as a good bet? Have you heard good things?

  • 13 9-18-2011 at 2:48 pm

    brace said...

    Just saw trailer for Where Do We Go Now? looks like the kind of foreign films Academy likes.

  • 14 9-18-2011 at 3:16 pm

    Danny said...

    From reading the description of Where Do We Go Now on Wikipedia, I second brace’s notion.

  • 15 9-18-2011 at 4:11 pm

    Fei said...

    I think that A Separation is still the favorite for the Oscar, based on its buzz all year among critics AND audiences. But the Foreign Language Film race might just be narrowed down to that and Where Do We Go Now? at this point.

  • 16 9-18-2011 at 6:10 pm

    ninja said...

    I`m so thrilled that TIFF award didn`t boost any of those yawn-inducing Oscar hopefuls that appeal to critics,bloggers and movie buffs only.
    Like I said before, i`m a big epic movie fan so go Harry Potter. Won`t happen but, yeah, many of those ADM, Shame, Descendants, Idles of March,etc types won`t happen either, tee-hee, although movies similar to them happen eevry year. Zzzzzzzz.

  • 17 9-18-2011 at 8:51 pm

    Jack said...

    I’m actually rather surprised that it beat out A Separation, which I did consider as a possibility along with The Artist (expected frontrunner) and The Descendants (my own personal prediction).

  • 18 9-18-2011 at 9:33 pm

    daveylow said...

    Well, I must have talked to different people because when I saw The Artist at the Elgin (a very large audience) everyone around me liked it and the audience cheered loudly at the screening. Not all of them could have been Weinstein plants. I thought the film was thoroughly delightful and I was expecting to be underwhelmed. The two leads are especially fine and that dog!

    I don’t see how the Audience Award is chosen. The Lebanese film was shown in smaller venues than other films so how do they count votes? Based on percentages rather than actual numbers.

    I attended the premier screening of The Descendants at the Elgin and that film got an extremely positive response from the audience so I’m kid of surprised that didn’t win.

    I wanted to see The Separation but it was shown in such small theaters I couldn’t get a ticket. Same for Monsieur Lazhar, which was one of my first choices.

    I can’t complain, though, I saw 35 films and many of them were worthwhile.

  • 19 9-18-2011 at 10:02 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    But the Foreign Language Film race might just be narrowed down to that and Where Do We Go Now? at this point.

    Errr… steady, guys. The Foreign Language Film race can rarely be narrowed down to two titles five days before the ceremony, much less five months. Who saw Departures coming in September? (Pat yourself on the back if you’re the annoying person who did.)

  • 20 9-18-2011 at 10:37 pm

    red_wine said...

    I saw the trailer of ‘Where Do We Go Now?’ and it seemed like a chick flick, or atleast geared towards women more. Dunno how that will sit with the Academy.

    A Seperation has maintained its buzz right since Berlin being a favorite with both critics and audiences (now) and it seems to play well everywhere it goes. If it has a US release for 2011, I wonder if it might make in-roads into some other categories apart from just Foreign Language Film?

  • 21 9-18-2011 at 11:42 pm

    Fei said...

    Guy: I did use the word “might,” after all. But let’s be honest here; at this point, with all of the top-tier international festivals done, what other movie looks to have a better shot at the Oscar than A Separation?

    I wouldn’t agree that Foreign Language Film category can “rarely” be predicted more than a few days before the ceremony. I’d say that it’s only been the case for the last few years. In some other years, there were clear buzz leaders that did become winners. Ten years ago, the race was clearly down to Amelie (presumed front runner) and No Man’s Land (Golden Globe and eventual Oscar winner). The following year, Nowhere in Africa had the most buzz and dominated people’s predictions. Same with The Barbarian Invasions, The Sea Inside, Tsotsi, and The Counterfeiters. The 2006 race was clearly down to The Lives of Others and Pan’s Labyrinth by this time in the year. Most people picked Pan’s Labyrinth because it had more buzz and nominations, but The Lives of Others pulled an “upset” simply because it was the kind of movie that had more appeal for the voters of the category. The situation was a repeat of what happened five years earlier between Amelie and No Man’s Land. Departures was the only one that none but a few (who changed predictions almost at the last minute) saw coming. Even the the winners of the last two years had more people predicting them.

    A Separation looks better right now than almost any other movie of the last decade at the same point. It has consistently proven to be one of the top two or three crowd-pleasers and critical darlings everywhere that it goes. It’s a straightforward live-action narrative that isn’t “too art house.” Its subject matter is both “important” and sentimental, i.e., perfect for the Academy. I really have a hard time seeing how any movie can beat it, but I know well enough to “never say never.”

  • 22 9-19-2011 at 3:41 am

    mickche said...

    saw Pina today, and i’m definetley rooting for that.

  • 23 9-19-2011 at 6:13 am

    americanrequeim said...

    does anyone feel like this is the most wide open race weve seen in a while?

    also, let me know if you disagree, but id argue we have yet to see the film that will win best picture yet.

  • 24 9-19-2011 at 7:31 am

    daveylow said...

    I think The Descendants and even The Artist could win best picture, having seen them.

    But the Eastwood and Speilberg films haven’t been seen yet and that could totally change things.

  • 25 9-19-2011 at 11:53 am

    Fei said...

    I definitely agree that no movie has the most heat for a BP or a BD win. The Descendants, The Artist, War Horse, and maybe TTSS all make a good case based on what we have seen so far. But to be fair, we’re just midway through September, and the festival circuit has just effectively concluded. We don’t know how those movies will play outside of festivals. War Horse, J. Edgar, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and Young Adult haven’t been seen at all. To call the race “wide open” at this point is jumping the gun; we usually don’t have a good feel of the race until November or December.

  • 26 9-19-2011 at 1:23 pm

    john said...

    I heard that a separation will not be submitted by Iran for political reasons. On the other hand, what about of miss bala if submitted by Mexico? I love the movie

  • 27 9-19-2011 at 1:42 pm

    Filmoholic said...

    I’m surprised Labaki’s film is getting some attention. Caramel was barely noticed when it premiered in 2007 but I hope this will encourage people to give it a look. It’s a sweet little film and Labaki’s very good in it.

  • 28 9-19-2011 at 2:27 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    John: A Separation has already been submitted by Iran, so no need to worry about that.

    Miss Bala is tremendous, and I can see it gathering enough heat to get nominated (if Mexico submits it, of course), but my sense is that it’s too cool, too hard, too genre for the win.

  • 29 9-19-2011 at 4:59 pm

    via collins said...

    This is going to be an absolute crackerjack year the way things are running now. Monsieur Lazhar is a terrific pic, and I’d be surprised if it wasn’t Canada’s selection. It will win lots of people, it manages to be “what the academy likes” while simultaneously having some tough edges.

    I’ve not seen Labaki’s new picture yet, but am also a fan of Caramel which was mucho enjoyable, but far from a great film. A Seperation is a great film, Le Havre is a wonderful film and it would be great to have it win just to see Kaurismaki and posse tearing up The Oscars!

    Like I say, it’s a bumper year for foreign film watchers. And Guy, I’d like to know who that annoying person was too!