The Toronto International Film Festival kicks off today under the shadow of dual strikes by Hollywood writers and actors but festival CEO Cameron Bailey is touting a strong lineup and ticket sales.
Tonight’s opening night film is Hayao Miyazaki’s animated feature “The Boy and the Heron,” which centres on a boy who loses his mother during the Second World War and embarks on a journey into a magical world.
Among the celebs expected this year are Sean Penn, Willem Dafoe, Spike Lee, Lil Nas X, Nicolas Cage, Nickelback and Patricia Arquette.
However, expectations for star-filled premieres and parties remain low as members of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Writers Guild of America continue a work stoppage that extends to publicity events.
Despite the labour unrest, Bailey says ticket sales have been “as strong as ever.”
Unions for Hollywood writers and actors are each seeking improved compensation and job protections from labour contracts with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
Other buzzy titles include Viggo Mortensen’s western drama “The Dead Don’t Hurt,” Michael Keaton’s “Knox Goes Away” and the horror drama “Dream Scenario,” starring Cage.
“Just the ticket sales we’ve seen so far with interest in the festival…that’s as strong as ever,” Bailey said in advance of the fest.
“We’re the centre of the film world, and we’re proud of that.”