TORONTO (Reuters) - “The Imitation Game,” a biopic about British mathematician and World War Two code-breaker Alan Turing, won the top prize at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday.
The film, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, took the Groslch People’s Choice award for best film at the 39th edition of the festival.
Accepting the award on behalf of director Morten Tyldum, Elevation Pictures’ Noah Segal said simply, “Yummy, delicious,” a reference to an audience member who had declared the same about Cumberbatch during a question-and-answer session following the film’s screening during the festival.
“It was unnerving, but true,” said Segal.
The award, which is chosen by audience members and has in the past gone to Oscar best picture winners such as “Slumdog Millionaire,” and last year’s “12 Years a Slave,” will likely ramp up the buzz around the film.
In the movie, Turing is the brilliant mathematician who breaks the Germans’ Enigma code, helping to bring the war to an end. He took his own life at 41 after he was convicted for being a homosexual.
Cumberbatch, one of the most sought-after actors in film and television, gave an immediate “yes” to playing Turing, he told Reuters last week.
“There is a huge burden, an onus of responsibility,” the 38-year-old Englishman said. “This was an extraordinary man and sadly, bizarrely not that well known a man of his achievements.”
The runner-up for the prize was “Learning to Drive,” a film about a Manhattan writer, played by Patricia Clarkson, who finds comfort in her lessons with a Sikh driving instructor, played by Ben Kingsley.
“St. Vincent,” starring Bill Murray, took second runner-up.
The People’s Choice award for top film in the Midnight Madness program, which often showcases horror and offbeat films, went to “What We Do in the Shadows,” a mockumentary about vampires living in a New Zealand suburb.
“I’d like to use this forum to bring attention to a more serious matter: the disgusting sport of vampire hunting,” said co-director and co-star Jemaine Clement.
The People’s Choice award for top documentary went to “Beats of the Antonov,” which follows refugees from the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains in Sudan.
Started in 1976, the Toronto festival now ranks with Cannes and Sundance as one of the world’s top movie gatherings. The festival often serves as a launching point for films and performances that go on to win Academy Awards, as well as international films seeking distribution deals.
This year saw the festival’s highest film sales after a bidding war ended with Paramount buying Chris Rock’s “Top Five” for a reported $12.5 million, organizers said. Forty-one film sales have been announced so far, including 24 major sales to U.S. distributors.
Additional reporting by Mary Milliken; Editing by Mohammad Zargham