TORONTO, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- British filmmaker Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" proved to be a big hit with fans at the 38th Toronto International Film Festival, as it took home the People's Choice Awards on Sunday.
Based on the autobiography of Solomon Northup, 12 Years a Slave tells the harrowing story that a freeborn educated African American man in the 19th century was kidnapped and sold into slavery for 12 years of his life before finally regaining his freedom.
Besides featuring a star-studded cast including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch and many others, TIFF's CEO Piers Handling said it is ultimately the emotions and honesty permeating throughout the film that struck a chord with its Toronto audience.
"The Toronto audience is very smart, they really are, they're very smart and also very emotional, and so the film works on them both emotionally and intellectually," he said.
The film has been getting all the buzz since it premiered at TIFF last week. Handling therefore sees great commercial potential in this film and said it "will have a good release in the marketplace."
Known for being a strong predictor of awards show success, this annual award is one of the most highly anticipated event for filmmakers. Films that win the vote of the Toronto audience often go on to win other prestigious awards.
"The Toronto audience has a great track record of recognizing some of the strongest films of the year," said Cameron Bailey, TIFF's artistic director.
The runner-ups to the award this year includes Stephen Frears' Philomena and Denis Villeneuve's Prisoners.
TIFF is also a deal-making Mecca for filmmakers, as over the last 11 days, over 30 films that screened at the event were sold across the world.
"After the last three or four years where it's been a little more cautious after the economic recession, people were just a little bit more hesitant to actually commit," Handling explained.
"There were a lot more deals being done after the festival in Toronto, I think this year you actually saw a lot of the deals done during the 11 days of the event."
The awards brunch officially wraps up this seasons TIFF, which brought 366 feature-length and short films to Toronto on Sept. 5-15.