Toronto Film Festival Kicks Off With Miyazaki’s “The Boy and the Heron”

The Toronto Film Festival started Thursday with “The Boy and the Heron” by famed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki. It is the first time an animated feature has taken the coveted spot. Miyazaki’s film, a sequel to his Oscar-winning masterpiece “My Neighbor Totoro,” will be released in the United States by GKIDS this fall.

Miyazaki is not the only star power making it to the festival this year. However, there is a need for more star power on the red carpet, mainly due to the Hollywood actor’s strike. TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey acknowledged that the strike had disrupted some of his festival’s events and parties, but he said keeping the movies moving forward was essential.

He pointed out that TIFF has always emphasized the world premieres of independent films, but this year, more of those titles are getting the attention of buyers and distributors. “It’s encouraging to see that these smaller films can stand up against the big studio releases,” he said.

The film lineup is stacked with festival standouts from Cannes (including Ruben Ostlund’s Palme dOr-winning “Triangle of Sadness”), Telluride (Sam Mendes’ WWII drama “Empire of Light” and Sarah Polley’s “Women Talking”), and Venice (including Martin McDonagh’s “The Banshees of Inisherin” and Florian Zeller’s “The Son”). TIFF will also feature many of the movies that were shown at the recent Sundance Film Festival.

As expected, a few star-studded films like Craig Gillespie’s “Dumb Money,” which stars Kate Winslet as a con artist who takes on her own daughter’s family, sold out quickly. Other movies, including the soccer comedy from Taika Waititi and the doc about Louis C.K.’s sexual assault allegations, are selling out fast.

Generally, if a film you want to see isn’t available, you can get into it by waiting in the rush line. That involves showing up early for a screening, waiting until most people are inside, and being ushered in. It can be not easy, but it works if you arrive early enough.

The strike has also affected the number of people who attend the festival, but Bailey believes that TIFF will remain a vibrant event. “If you love movies, and we know that most of you do, I’m confident you will come,” he said. “You will enjoy these wonderful films we have lined up for you.” The festival runs through Sept. 17. The full lineup is here.

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