“Nomadland” is the winner of this year’s People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The recession-era road trip drama, starring Frances McDormand, tells the story of a woman travelling the American West alone in her van.

Directed by Chloe Zhao, “Nomadland” is already a favourite with critics, and picked up the Golden Lion for best film at Venice Film Festival earlier this month.

But the TIFF People’s Choice win helps solidify its buzz ahead of awards season.

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Several previous People’s Choice winners have gone on to pick up the best-picture Oscar, including “Green Book”, “12 Years a Slave” and “The King’s Speech”.

Last year, “Jojo Rabbit” won the prize before picking up six Academy Awards nominations.

The TIFF People’s Choice honour has usually carried a $15,000 prize, but organizers say no cash prize is attached this year.

“Nomadland” beat out Regina King’s directorial debut “One Night in Miami”, which reimagines a real-life 1964 meeting between Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown. Her film was the first runner-up.

Canadian filmmaker Tracey Deer’s coming-of-age drama “Beans,” set around the Oka Crisis, was the second runner-up.

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The 2020 People’s Choice Documentary Award winner was Michelle Latimer’s “Inconvenient Indian” while the Midnight Madness People’s Choice Award went to Roseanne Liang’s “Shadow In The Cloud” starring Chloe Grace Moretz. The Canada Goose Amplify Voices Award which heralds under-represented filmmakers was awarded to three films: “Night Of The Kings” from Côte d’Ivoire, “The Disciple” from India, and “Inconvenient Indian” which picked up the Amplify Voices Best Canadian Feature prize.

The first-ever Shawn Mendes Foundation Changemaker prize chosen by the TIFF Next Wave committee of young film lovers was awarded to Kelly Fyffe-Marshall’s short film “Black Bodies”.

“It is such a blessing to receive this award, to be acknowledged, to be seen and to be heard,” said Fyffe-Marshall via press statement. “Thank you to the Shawn Mendes Foundation and to the Toronto International Film Festival. I want to use this special moment to further push for change. This year the world seemed to have paused, and we finally heard the call for equality. What we are being called to do doesn’t take much. We just need each of
us to do what we can, where we can, and make ripples where we are.”