Toronto Flashback: In 2009, Tyler Perry Made His TIFF Debut With ‘Precious’

Toronto Flashback: In 2009, Tyler Perry Made His TIFF Debut With ‘Precious’

Tyler Perry might be a first-time writer-director at Toronto, presenting his film A Jazzman’s Blues on Sunday before it hits Netflix on Sept. 23, but he’s no TIFF newbie. Thirteen years ago, Perry attended the fest with Precious, on which he and Oprah Winfrey served as executive producers.

Directed by Lee Daniels and starring Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz, Precious was based on Sapphire’s novel Push about a 16-year-old (Sidibe) who is twice impregnated by her father and seeks a fresh start at a new school. The film first screened at Sundance, where it won the audience award and grand jury prize for drama, plus a special jury prize for Mo’Nique as Precious’ abusive mother. Lionsgate execs called Perry from Park City to ask him to board as a producer.

“They brought it to me and I watched it and I called Oprah and said, ‘You’ve got to watch this film,’ and she said, ‘I’ve got it, I’ve had it for a month,’ ” Perry recalled to THR. “Then we were like, ‘What can we do to make this film get to an audience?’ ”

It won TIFF’s people’s choice award and scored six Oscar nominations (including for best picture), with wins for adapted screenplay and supporting actress for Mo’Nique. Precious remains true to its name for those involved; Daniels and Mo’Nique publicly reconciled this year after a long feud, with the director gushing that the film “was God working through both of us.”