Taika Waititi scoops People's Choice Award at Toronto

By Te Ao - Māori News

Māori film director extraordinaire Taika Waititi's latest movie has won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Jojo Rabbit, a satire, written and directed by Waititi follows Jojo "Rabbit" Betzler, a lonely German boy whose worldview is turned upside down when he discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in her attic. Waititi also stars in the film, portraying Jojo's imaginary friend Adolf Hitler. 

When asked why he would play such an audacious role Waititi stated online, "What better way to insult Hitler than having him portrayed by a Polynesian Jew?"

The People's Choice Award is Waititi's second at Toronto this year, having collected the inaugural Ebert Director Award last week.

Popular Māori movie, Whale Rider, filmed on location at Whangara on the East Coast won the same award at Toronto in 2002, with lead actress Keisha Castle-Hughes earning an Oscar nomination in 2004.

Jojo Rabbit's win has also created an Oscar Award buzz within the community, with 7 of the last winners of this award going on to receive Oscar nominations, including Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, La La Land, Room and Silver Linings Playbook. Other winners in recent years have gone on to win the Oscar for Best Picture, including Slumdog Millionaire. The King's Speech, 12 Years a Slave and last years winner Green Book.