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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 September 2005, 08:12 GMT 09:12 UK
High expectations for Toronto festival
By Manoush Zomorodi
BBC News

The Toronto Film Festival, which opens on Thursday, celebrates its 30th birthday with organisers hoping to put on the most impressive festival yet.

David Cronenberg
David Cronenberg was born in Toronto

More than 330 films from 52 countries are scheduled, including 256 feature films and 79 short movies.

The programmers of the festival have boasted that because of its rising profile, the festival received over 3,500 submissions for 2005.

Films with the most hype usually have their premieres at the festival's prestigious evening galas.

And, as usual, Hollywood will dominate this year's gala programme with its high-profile films including several that are already being touted as possible Oscar contenders.

Closing night

Gwyneth Paltrow reunites with John Madden, the director of Shakespeare in Love, for the cinematic version of the play Proof.

Paltrow failed to make the Venice Film Festival to promote the film because of problems with her plane from New York.

Walk The Line stars Joaquin Phoenix as the late musician Johnny Cash, while Reese Witherspoon portrays his singer wife June.

Pop star Justin Timberlake makes his big screen debut in the closing-night presentation of Edison, a thriller that also features Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey.

The stars of all these films are on their way to Canada, as are numerous other Hollywood names including Orlando Bloom, Cameron Diaz, Charlize Theron, Kirsten Dunst, Richard Gere, Keanu Reeves, Natalie Portman and Tommy Lee Jones, to name just a few.

Gwyneth Paltrow did not make it to Venice to promote Proof
But lest film-goers think that the Toronto Film Festival has sold out to Tinseltown, Toronto's planners have been sure to include several homegrown film-makers.

One of Canada's most acclaimed directors, Atom Egoyan, will launch his Where The Truth Lies, which stars Kevin Bacon and Colin Firth, having already upset American censors with an orgy scene.

The festival's opening film comes from Canadian Deepa Mehta with Water, her final picture in his cinematic trilogy telling the story widows in colonial India who live in poverty.

Local film-maker David Cronenberg will show his film A History of Violence, which was one of the highly-favoured films at the Cannes Film Festival.

As it does every year, the anniversary of the 11 September attacks will fall during the festival and more than 20 films dealing with life in the aftermath of the attacks will be screened.

Taliban destruction

Four years after the attacks film-makers are tackling the subject of terrorism and tension between Westerners and Muslims.

The War Within comes from New Yorker Joseph Castelo and depicts a Pakistani suicide bomber who plans to launch a ground war on the United States.

Film-makers Mariusz Pilis and Marcin Mamon interview warlords and "freedom fighters" across the Middle East in The Smell of Paradise.

The Giant Buddhas, from Swiss director Christian Frei, documents the Taliban's destruction of the famous Buddha statues in Afghanistan.

It is too soon to predict which will be this year's Crash, the film that had its first showing at Toronto last year and went on to become the sleeper hit of 2005, but the Toronto Film Festival clearly has the ability to shine light on all sorts of pictures.

In the past three decades, it has grown into an influential force in the movie-making industry by highlighting great known and unknown film-makers.

The fact that Toronto is now a must on the festival circuit proves that Canada's place in the film world is secure.

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29 Jun 05 |  Entertainment


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