Sunday, August 31, 2008

Call it a labor of festival fun

If it’s Labor Day, it must be time for the annual Toronto International Film Festival. Well, almost.

The 33rd edition of the cinema feast starts Thursday with the traditional Canadian fare (“Passchendaele” from writer/director Paul Gross of “Due South” TV fame) and ends nine nights later with the Sept. 13 gala screening of “Stone of Destiny” from writer/director Charles Martin Smith (still likely best known as lovable dork Terry “The Toad” in George Lucas’s classic “American Graffiti”}.

This year’s “TIFF,” as the movie wonks up north call it, features some 312 films, but who knows if there’s an Oscar winner in the bunch, such as “American Beauty,” “Crash” or last year’s “No Country for Old Men”? Moviegoers started buzzing about all three, of course, after first seeing them on Toronto screens.

This year’s potential crop might have been lessened by the recent Writer’s Guild strike which likely delayed the debuts of some big films scheduled for ’08 simply because they won't be ready in time for the festival. Regardless, count on at least a few Oscar nominees in North America’s most prestigious showcase, which kicked off a slew of Academy Award speculation in 2007. In fact, four of the five Best Picture nominees appeared here first, as did outright winners Tilda Swinton (“Michael Clayton”), Javier Bardem (from the Oscar-winning “No Country”), and Best Foreign Film, “The Counterfeiters.”

Click here for a complete list of all this year’s festival films, as well as names of more than 500 celebrities expected to attend.

Also be sure to check back here regularly during the next two weeks to read about the movies, the stars, and maybe some other stuff, including parties.

(Meanwhile, read Thursday's Sun News to find out how Cleveland superstar LeBron James connects to the Toronto bash, and check out my new post at MovieZen for more festival info.)

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