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TIFF – Toronto International Film Festival Sept 7-17

Who needs Hollywood when you’ve got all the access to celebrities and the year’s biggest movies right here in Toronto?

The Toronto International Film Festival, which is affectionately dubbed “TIFF,” is the biggest film festival in the T.Dot, and this year it will be filled with all of Hollywood’s biggest and most well-respected celebrities, directors, and other geniuses behind the craft. Whether you’re a huge movie buff or are just enamoured by the presence of the stars, TIFF is something you certainly do not want to miss.

TIFF is one of the biggest, most publicly attended film festivals across the globe, attracting more than 480,000 people every year. Over the past four decades, TIFF has expanded to become a year-round spot for film culture operating from the TIFF Bell Lightbox located at King and John Streets, which offers screenings, discussions, workshops, festivals, and even the opportunity to meet Canadian and international filmmakers.

This year, TIFF will feature 14 Gala Presentations and 33 Special Presentations. All sorts of genres of film will be represented, from dramas, to horror flicks, to meaningful documentaries. Whatever your particular niche happens to be, you’ll certainly be well served at 2017’s TIFF.

The Films

Dozens of films will be represented at TIFF this year, but some of the more notable films that have been causing a lot of Oscar buzz include the following:

The Mountain Between Us – Imagine being involved in a plane crash and getting stranded on a mountain. What would you do? The film The Mountain Between Us depicts a story of a surgeon and journalist, played by A-list actors Idris Elba and Kate Winslet who are placed in a harrowing position to rely on each other to survive this horrific situation.

Battle of the Sexes – Tennis is a popular one in film this year, and Battle of the Sexes is just one of two TIFF movies depicting the sport. An American sports comedy-drama, this movie recreates the infamous 1973 tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, starring Steve Carrell and Emma Stone.

Stronger – The Boston Marathon bombing that shook the nation back in 2013 was a devastating situation that claimed the lives of young individuals and maimed dozens of others. Yet as brutal as the situation was, it made the city of Boston an even stronger one. The film Stronger is an adaptation of the true story of Jeff Bauman (played by Jake Gyllenhaal), who lost both of his legs in the bombing.

The Actors

One of the most exciting parts of TIFF is getting up close and personal to some of the biggest actors in Hollywood. This year, you can expect to catch a glimpse of the following actors:

Matt Damon – The famous actor will be attending TIFF with two films – “Suburbicon” (directed by George Clooney) and “Downsizing,” the latter of which is a social satire about a man who decides to shrink himself – literally – in an effort to simplify his life.

Rachel McAdams – Toronto native McAdams will make a visit to the TIFF red carpet for her film “Disobedience,” which also stars Rachel Weisz.

George Clooney – You can’t get any bigger than Mr. Clooney himself, who is a frequent visitor to TIFF. He’ll be making his latest directorial role at the premiere of his film “Suburbicon,” though it’s not certain whether or not his wife Amal and twin babies will be making an appearance along side George.

Nicole Kidman – The Australian beauty will be walking the TIFF red carpet for the premieres of her two films “The Killing Of A Sacred Deer” and “The Upside.”

Drake – Another native of Toronto, rapper and actor Drake will make an appearance at TIFF this year after being featured in “The Carter Effect,” a documentary about the rise of Vince Carter and his former team the Toronto Raptors.

Colin Farrell – Colin will once again be returning to TIFF for his new film “The Killing Of A Sacred Deer,” a psychological drama in which he is directed by “The Lobster” director Yorgos Lanthimos.

Octavia Spencer – Academy award winner Octavia Spencer will grace TIFF this year for the premiere of the fantasy drama “The Shape Of Water.”

The Experience

TIFF is a great opportunity to watch new premieres as well as to meet the actors and directors behind them.

Not all films that are screened at TIFF are given the full red carpet treatment. For this year’s festival, 14 films will receive special Gala Presentations.

Depending on the package you purchase, you may be able to catch a film or go all out with the “Buzz List” package that will let you see five premium screenings, which are the high-profile red carpet galas where the biggest stars come out.

Enjoy the red carpet experience where you can get as close as you possibly can to experiencing what it’s like for celebrities to walk the red carpet, including the flashing cameras, designer outfits, and the screaming fans.

The Tragically Hip and “Long Time Running”

Perhaps one of the most anticipated films at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival is the powerful and emotional documentary “Long Time Running,” which depicts the 2016 final tour of iconic Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip, directed by Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier.

Every Canadian remembers where they were when Gord Downie and his band The Tragically Hip took to the stage one final time at the end of the tour after news broke out of the lead singer’s terminal brain cancer diagnosis. Heart-wrenching yet incredible, the performance was one to remember, and this film is aimed at forever preserving the true essence of Canadian rock ‘n’ roll.

For three decades, the Kingston-based band has been consistently recording albums and touring all over our vast country. When Downie’s brain cancer diagnosis was announced, no one thought there would ever be another tour. Yet the diagnosis sparked what was perhaps the band’s biggest and most meaningful tour ever, and this film perfectly depicts that.

“Long Time Running” illustrates the most difficult time in the history of The Hip. Downie convinces his fellow bandmates to tour the country in order to both promote their latest album Man Machine Poem and show the world that with strength, perseverance and the support of loved ones, anything is possible.

Considering Downie’s weakened condition as a result of weeks of chemo and radiation, it was tough for people to believe that the tour would actually happen. But as the film shows, Downie and his boys trekked on to perform the most exciting and successful tour of their entire career.

The film features impartial interviews and incredible scenery along the tour, as well as mesmerizing performances of The Tragically Hip. Many fan favourites are featured, including “Grace, Too” and “Blow at High Dough.” Considering the facts surrounding Gord Downie’s health and the eventual end to The Hip, “Long Time Running” is not depressing in the least. Rather, it is somewhat encouraging and uplifting, and is more about the story of dreams and perseverance, even in the face of death.