Twine Jefferson’s “American Fiction,” a biting satire starring Jeffrey Wright as a disillusioned tutorial, has gained the Folks’s Selection Award on the Toronto Worldwide Movie Pageant, a much-watched bellwether within the Oscar race.

“American Fiction” is the directorial debut of Jefferson, the veteran TV writer of “Watchmen” and “Succession,” and an adaptation of Percival Everett’s 2001 novel “Erasure.” The movie, about an writer who resents that the literary business is simply fascinated by “Black books” that cater to the stereotypes of white audiences, emerged as a breakout hit at TIFF.

Toronto’s viewers award winner, voted on by competition attendees, has traditionally practically at all times signified a best-picture contender on the Academy Awards. Since 2012, each Folks’s Selection winner at TIFF has gone on to attain a best-picture nod. In 2018, when “Inexperienced Ebook” won, it announced the film as a surprise awards contender. (Peter Farrelly’s film went on to win best picture at the Oscars.) Last year, Steven Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans” won Toronto’s top prize.

First runner-up went to Alexander Payne’s “The Holdovers,” starring Paul Giamatti as a curmudgeonly boarding school teacher tasked with staying with a handful of students over Christmas break in the 1970s. Second runner-up was Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Boy and the Heron,” the long-awaited latest Studio Ghibli film from the Japanese anime master.

“American Fiction,” which MGM will release in theaters Nov. 3, co-stars Sterling K. Brown, Issa Rae and Tracee Ellis Ross. In an interview, Jefferson said he immediately connected with Everett’s book.

“I was having the exact same conversations with Black colleagues in both professions: Why are we always writing about misery and trauma and violence and pain inflicted on Blacks?” said Jefferson. “Why is this what people expect from us? Why is this the only thing we have to offer to culture?”

The Toronto International Film Festival, which wraps Sunday, was diminished this year due to the ongoing actors and writers strikes. Red-carpet premieres were mostly without movie stars, detracting from some of the buzz that the largest film festival in North American typically generates. It followed a similarly strike-affected Venice Film Festival, where the festival’s top prize, the Golden Lion, went to Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Poor Things.” (That film skipped TIFF.)

The People’s Choice winner for documentary went to Robert McCallum’s “Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe” and the midnight madness award went to Larry Charles’ “Dicks: The Musical.” The competition’s juried competitors awards got to Tarsem Singh Dhandwar’s “Pricey Jassi,” winner of the Platform part, and Meredith Hama-Brown’s “Seagrass,” which took the FIPRESCI award from worldwide critics.


This story corrects the spelling of Jeffrey Wright’s first identify.


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