National Newswatch

TORONTO — Canadian-American actor Brendan Fraser got emotional as he reflected on his onscreen resurgence at a Toronto International Film Festival awards gala.

Fraser's took to the stage at the TIFF Tribute Awards on Sunday to thank organizers for the "affirmation" of receiving the TIFF Tribute Award for performance for his leading role in "The Whale."

He also expressed his gratitude to the film's director Darren Aronofsky and writer Samuel Hunter for casting him in what he described as a "redemption story" about a 600-pound man attempting to reconnect with his daughter.

"Art is about taking a risk, and you should know that they took a chance on me," Fraser said in his acceptance speech.

He suggested that his character's "superpower" was to see the good in others, even when they can't see it themselves.

"I am a firm believer that we need a little bit more of that in this world," Fraser said. "It's the audience that gives cinema life, so I must thank you for keeping me in the job that I love."

TIFF flexed the full return of its in-person star power action at Sunday's red-carpet fundraiser, convening some of Hollywood's biggest names to fete one another's achievements.

Pop sensation Harry Styles picked up a trophy for his turn to acting in "My Policeman," sharing the TIFF Tribute Award with co-stars Emma Corrin, Gina McKee, Linus Roache, David Dawson and Rupert Everett for their ensemble performance in the period romance.

"Thank you so much to everyone here on behalf of all of us for this wonderful, wonderful award," Styles told the glittering crowd gathered at Toronto's Fairmont Royal York Hotel.

"I think we all loved working on this film so much and we hope you enjoy it."

"Everything Everywhere All at Once" star Michelle Yeoh shimmered in gold as she accepted the inaugural TIFF Share Her Journey Groundbreaker Award, which recognizes a leader in the film industry who has championed women throughout their career.

In her speech, Yeoh reminisced about some of the "nicks, bumps" and "scrapes" she's incurred over her action-packed filmography, which includes credits such as "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Crazy Rich Asians."

For women in Hollywood, success often comes with a "heavy burden," Yeoh said, pointing to persistent gender inequity at the top levels of the film industry.

"In addition to needing to be twice as good, and often half as compensated, we must also be leaders role models and beacons for the next generation," Yeoh said.

"With this award, I guess I am officially a ground breaker," she continued. "Now that the ground has been broken, it is up to the next generation of women — all of you out there — to build the foundation of something even greater."

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Sam Mendes was also among the honourees, accepting the TIFF Ebert Director Award. Mendes' love letter to cinema "Empire of Light" is playing the festival.

Mendes's feature debut, "American Beauty," played at TIFF in 1999, launching it on a trajectory to win several Academy Awards.

"I'm thrilled to be back and even more thrilled to be being given a completely unnecessary prize," Mendes said with a laugh on the red carpet ahead of the ceremony.

Legendary Cree artist and activist Buffy Sainte-Marie, the subject of the documentary "Carry It On," was also on hand to receive the Jeff Skoll Award in Impact Media. The honour recognizes leadership in uniting social impact and cinema.

Canadian directors Sarah Polley and Jason Reitman and English actor Olivia Colman were among the presenters who toasted this year's awards recipients.

Launched in 2019, the Tribute Awards celebrate the film industry's "outstanding contributors" and raise funds for TIFF's year-round programs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 11, 2022.

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press
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