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The film follows a young loan shark as he goes about his business maiming debtors to collect insurance money. His ruthless course is interrupted by a stranger who claims to be his mother —and his acceptance of her opens in him a sense of pity for his former victims.
In the film, Hoffman plays a charismatic sect leader who both befriends and enthralls a World War II veteran, played by Phoenix, who is drowning in homemade swill and unable to find a job or a life purpose.
Hoffman accepted both awards on behalf of both Anderson and Phoenix, who had continued from Venice on to Toronto to promote the film. Hoffman apologized for being ruffled, saying he had just landed at the airport and had changed into his suit in a restroom.
The movie, set in Tel Aviv’s Hasidic community, tells the story of 18-year-old Shira, played by Yaron, who faces the choice of whether or not to marry the widower of her beloved sister after her death in childbirth.
Paradise: Faith, by Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl, took the special jury prize. The film, the second part in Seidl’s trilogy about three women from the same family on different quests, stars Maria Hofstaetter as a single woman who dedicates her vacation to missionary work.
“I am not blasphemous,” Seidl told the audience.
Best screenplay went to French director Olivier Assayas for Something in the Air.