12 Years a Slave, based on an 1853 memoir of a free black man sold into slavery, won the top prize at the Toronto International Film Festival tonight.
The film, by Shame director Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, with Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch, took home the BlackBerry People's Choice award, while the top documentary award went to The Square, by Jehane Noujaim.
The film divided audiences on its first showing, with some people walking out during scenes of horrific brutality against slaves.
Recent winners of the People's Choice award, which is selected by Toronto festival audiences, include Oscar-winners The King's Speech and Slumdog Millionaire. Last year, Silver Linings Playbook won the festival award.