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Passchendaele, canadian epic to open Toronto Film Festival

With summer in its final sizzle, the Fall film festival season is just moments away. The troika of Montreal, Venice and Toronto opens the fall fest season. While other industries still relished the slow period known as the "dog days of August", the film industry is already in high gear mode, looking to these Festivals to unveil the films that everyone will be talking about this awards season.

Of the three, the Toronto International Film Festival has come the furthest in the shortest time. Originally a "festival of festivals" that relied on previous film glories, Toronto has emerged in the past decade as THE destination and launching pad for distribution, critical acclaim and, hopefully, Oscar gold.

The Festival will present a staggering showcase of world cinema, but in its desire to be all encompassing, it is also a critical showcase for local Canadian talent. This is more than evidenced by the choice of the Opening Night Gala, which as tradition has had it for the past several years, is the World Premiere of a new Canadian film.

The 33rd Toronto International Film Festival opens September 4 with the world premiere Gala Presentation of Passchendaele, written, directed and produced by celebrated Canadian filmmaker Paul Gross. Co-produced by Niv Fichman, Frank Siracusa and Francis Damberger, Passchendaele stars Gross, Caroline Dhavernas (Hollywoodland), Gil Bellows (The Shawshank Redemption) and Joe Dinicol (George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead).

Set during the height of the First World War, Passchendaele tells the story of Sgt. Michael Dunne, a soldier who is brutally wounded in France and returns home to Calgary emotionally and physically scarred. While in the military hospital in Calgary, he meets Sarah, a mysterious and attractive nurse with whom he falls passionately in love. When Sarah’s younger brother David signs up to fight in Europe, Michael is compelled to return to the battlefield to protect him. Alongside thousands of other courageous Canadians, David and Michael are sent to fight in the third battle of Ypres. Commonly known as “Passchendaele,” it is a battle against impossible odds.

“Paul Gross is an inspiring Canadian and a leader in our industry,” says Cameron Bailey, Co-Director of the Toronto International Film Festival. “By paying tribute to our nation’s heroes - including his own grandfather, an Alberta veteran, Gross uses the visceral charge of movies to contribute a foundation chapter to our national history. While never ignoring the horrifying truths of this or any war, Passchendaele stands as truly epic storytelling from western Canada.”

Written and directed by Paul Gross, Passchendaele is a Rhombus Media, Whizbang Films and Damberger Film and Cattle Company production. The film is distributed in Canada by Alliance Films. To get more information on the film and to view the trailer, log on to:

The 33rd Toronto International Film Festival runs September 4 to 13, 2008. This Dailies site will bring all the films, all the personalities and all the excitement of Toronto 2008!!!
Get ready for the Toronto dailies from

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