"Oh wow, this is huge!" Says Palestinian-British filmmaker Basil Khalil in his acceptance video upon receiving the coveted FIPRESCI award, for his feature debut A Gaza Weekend which world premiered at TIFF. The Toronto International Film Festival is famously devoid of competition juries and relies on a few sponsored prices, and three People's Choice Awards, including one for Documentaries and one for their Midnight Madness section.
Khalil is in great company, with Steven Spielberg's autobiographical oeuvre The Fabelmans winning the People's Choice Award for Narrative feature.
"Thank you FIPRESCI people, whoever you are. I love you," continues the handsome Khalil, holding a bottle of bleach as a stand-in for the award... Or maybe an Oscar? Inshallah.
"This film is only here by mistake," says Khalil and explains about the premise of the film, which he pitched to a producer while on a beach in Cannes. It was a "bullshit pitch," as the filmmaker admits in his video -- and also explained in his Director's Statement to the press --meant to entice the producer. But what started that way ended up as a funny, irreverent look at the Israeli Palestinian situation, world premiering at one of the most prestigious festivals in the world, and winning a prize.
As the TIFF announcement thread says, "Movies are dreams that you never forget."
The FIPRESCI prize was decided by five international critics -- Andrea Crozzoli (Italy), Márcio Sallem (Brazil), Max Borg (Switzerland), Andrew Kendall (Guyana) and Marriska Fernandes (Canada) -- and is awarded by the International Federation of Film Critics.
We reviewed A Gaza Weekend here on MIME.
Congratulations to all the winners, which you can find on the TIFF Twitter account page.