"Jojo Rabbit" won the Toronto International Film Festival's top honor on Sunday, scoring a major win for director Taika Waititi as Hollywood's award season heats up.
The festival's People's Choice award has a history of predicting Academy Award success. Over the past ten years, almost every Toronto audience award winner has gone on to be nominated for best-picture at the Oscars.
"Jojo Rabbit" is a coming-of-age comedy about a 10-year-old boy growing up in Germany during World War II who finds out his mother, played by Scarlett Johansson, is hiding a young Jewish girl.
Throughout the film, Jojo confides in his imaginary friend Adolf Hitler, who is played by Waititi.
The festival's audience cheered Waititi's "anti-hate satire," while critics gave it mixed reviews.
The New Zealand filmmaker, who is known for directing "Thor: Ragnarok" and "Hunt for the Wilderpeople," also took home the festival's director award.
"Jojo Rabbit" beat out runners-up "Marriage Story," director Noah Baoumbach's divorce drama starring Johansson and Adam Driver, as well as Cannes Palme d'Or winner "Parasite" from South Korean director Bong Joon-ho.
Meryl Streep won the festival's inaugural actress prize for her role in the Panama Papers thriller "The Laundromat," while Joaquin Phoenix took home the inaugural actor award for his leading role in "Joker."
The winner of last year's People's Choice award, "Green Book," later snagged best-picture at the Academy Awards.
rs/aw (AP, AFP, Reuters)