Toronto International Film Festival opens amid Hollywood strikes

Toronto International Film Festival opens amid Hollywood strikes
Toronto International Film Festival opens amid Hollywood strikes 

Toronto International Film Festival opens Thursday as the twin Hollywood strikes drag on.

Organizers of the event, a launchpad for numerous Academy Award-winning films, were finalizing a stacked lineup of premieres, red carpet galas and prestige TV launches featuring work from dozens of countries when Tinseltown´s actors staged a walkout.

But festival CEO Cameron Bailey says the global reach of the programming, and the ability of filmmakers and actors to promote independent fare even amid the strikes, speaks to the “strength of cinema right now.”

“It took some weeks to really figure out the specifics and the details of how you would navigate a strike-affected festival, but it turns out that we´re going to have lots of red carpet talent,” Bailey told AFP.

Among those expected in Canada´s largest city during the 10-day movie extravaganza are A-listers Patricia Arquette, Taika Waititi, Anna Kendrick and Ethan Hawke, who all moved behind the camera to direct their latest films.

French filmmaker Ladj Ly will debut “Les Indesirables,” a follow-up look at marginalized communities in the suburbs of Paris four years after his Oscar-nominated debut feature “Les Miserables.”

Also on tap is the international premiere of awards hopeful “The Holdovers” from director Alexander Payne (“Sideways”) about a teacher (Paul Giamatti) tasked with supervising students at a boarding school who cannot go home for Christmas break.

And pop star Lil Nas X will bring some flair to the red carpet for the opening of his documentary “Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero” — just one of several music films on tap including a world premiere of “In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon.”

But the first marquee screening on Thursday evening is “The Boy and the Heron,” Miyazaki´s first feature-length film in a decade — and likely his last for the storied Studio Ghibli, at age 82.

The semi-autobiographical film, which opened in Japan in July, follows young Mahito as he navigates the horrors of World War II and his mother´s death. After meeting a talking heron, he enters a colorful fantasy world in search of her.

“That´s one that we´re especially thrilled to have. This is one of the greatest artists in cinema with what may be his final film,” Bailey said.

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