Danny Boyle, Freida Pinto, Dev Patel

Matt Carr/Getty Images

Slumdog Millionaire ended up the top dog.

The 2008 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival wrapped today, with the Bombay-based movie about a teen one question away from the grand prize on the Indian Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, directed by Danny Boyle and starring Freida Pinto and Dev Patel, scoring the fest's biggest kudo, the People's Choice Award. It capped a 10-day cinema orgy that featured Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston deftly avoiding each other, Roger Ebert bonked by a fellow film critic and, perhaps most shockingly, Mickey Rourke continuing to solidify his place on the Oscar map.

Rourke's performance, a portrait of a broken-down fighter in Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler that has wowed filmgoers at both Venice and Toronto, marks a career and life turnaround for the actor. And he knows it.

"I was very immature, very uninformed, very uneducated about that. I wish I knew differently, because I put myself and a lot of other people through a lot of hell that I regret," he said.

Aside from Slumdog Millionaire, there were other winners Saturday. The Prize of the International Critics (aka FIPRESCI Prize) for Special Presentations went to Steve Jacobs' Disgrace, a story of moral and physical assaults that destroy the life of a professor (John Malkovich) at a South African university. The FIPRESCI's Discovery Award went to Lymelife, a story of 1970s suburban American life twisted beyond recognition by an outbreak of Lyme disease.

The Diesel Discovery Award, selected by the 1,000 accredited media at the festival, went to Steve McQueen's Hunger, about a hunger strike by Irish Republican Army terrorist Bobby Sands in a Northern Ireland prison. The Inuit survival drama Before Tomorrow won Best Canadian Feature, while Block B, a film about expatriate Indians in Malaysia, was named Best Canadian Short.

Despite fears of sluggish ticket sales and lackluster film deals, TIFF codirector Cameron Bailey said he was pleased. Final ticket sale numbers may be slightly lower than last year's 350,000, he said, but this year's free events, including outdoor screenings, drew 150,000 people. To add one last boost to the film festival's profile this year, TIFF is holding a public closing party downtown and showing Slumdog Millionaire free at one of the gala theaters.

Fellow TIFF codirector Piers Handling noted there were "brisk," if not outstanding sales from Toronto including a few big movies, topped by The Wrestler and Steven Soderbergh's Che with Benicio Del Toro, as well as The Hurt Locker, Skin, Fear Me Not, Edge of Love, It Might Get Loud, Goodbye Solo, Is There Anybody There, Valentino and Me and Orson Welles, starring some guy named Zac Efron.

And there was plenty of diversity for the movie-mad locals. All told, 62 countries represented this year.

Indeed, at the closing ceremony, TIFF codirector Bailey declared this year's fest a success and promised 2009 would be "even better."

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