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Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, directed by out filmmaker Lee Daniels, was given the top audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday. The film centers on an overweight, pregnant, illiterate teenager in Harlem, and has been steadily gaining in prestige since it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January and picked up Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry as executive producers.
The film introduces Gabourey Sidibe in the title role, and costars Mo'Nique as her abusive mother and Mariah Carey as a guidance counselor. In one of the fest's most star-studded premieres, Winfrey walked the red carpet with Daniels and the film's cast.
"The audience award holds such an important meaning... I made this film for every person out there who ever looked in the mirror and felt unsure about the person looking back," Daniels said in a statement.
The Toronto audience award has been an indicator of potential Academy Award honors in years past, as best picture winners Slumdog Millionaire and American Beauty similarly took the Toronto honors.
In other Toronto news, The Topp Twins, a film about the New Zealand lesbian sister singing-comedy duo, beat Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story, for the audience award for best documentary.
Though the acquisition market was sluggish at this year's fest, and "The days of the bidding wars are over to a certain extent," according to festival codirector Piers Handling, Tom Ford's directorial debut A Single Man was picked up by the Weinstein Co. in a high-profile bidding war with Focus Features and Summit Entertainment.