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Toronto Film Festival Dailies

The  44th  Toronto  International  Film  Festival  runs  September  5–15,  2019 in Canada's most vibrant and exciting metropolis, it has become one of the most important film events on the festival calendar.

Showcasing more than 300 films and hosting industryites from around the world, Toronto can "make or break" films looking for international distribution and a chance at Oscar gold. From glitzy red carpet premieres to challenging art films to cutting edge new media, the Festival offers something for every taste.

Past Coverage 2014 2015 - Coverage 2016 in French   English




Thursday, September 4------With more than 265 films from over 50 countries around the world screening at this year's event, the Toronto International Film Festival could have its pick of whatever film from whatever country it wanted for its opening slot (unless Venice had it first). But the Festival understands the importance of reserving its Opening Night Gala for homegrown talent, and as it has done for the past several years, the Festival opener is an indeed a Canadian film.

One of the most stirring and ambitious films ever made in Canada, the historical epic Passchendaele recounts what may have been the most savage battle of the First World War. Participation in the Battle of Passchendaele was a pivotal moment in Canadian history that defined the nation in the eyes of the world for years to come. That acclaim came at a high price, however, and Canada's losses were great. Yet this is not simply a story about love of country, but one of love discovered amid the strife of war.

Sergeant Michael Dunne (played by Paul Gross, who also directed and wrote the screenplay) is sent back to the home front after he is wounded. While recuperating, he meets Sarah (Caroline Dhavernas), a stunning young nurse, and falls deeply in love with her. Like him, Sarah has been permanently scarred by the conflict. Her father was killed in the war, and she is terrified that her hotheaded younger brother David (Joe Dinicol) will soon be shipped to the trenches. When David is indeed sent to Europe, Dunne follows, determined to protect him.

A passion project for Gross, the film was based on stories told to him by his grandfather, a veteran of the war to end all wars. This deeply personal connection is evident in his direction. Passchendaele pays tribute to the foot soldier. Gross captures a perfect balance, investing the battle scenes with a stunning ferocity but also crafting moments of remarkable beauty. At a time when Canada has soliders in harm's way in such trouble spots as Afghanistan, this film honors the memory of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their nation.

Director Paul Gross was born in Calgary and is an actor, producer, director and writer. He studied acting at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. His acclaimed television work has earned him numerous Gemini Awards, and includes starring in and writing for the series Due South and starring in Slings and Arrows. He made his feature film debut in 2002 with the film Men with Brooms.

Sandy Mandelberger, Toronto FF Dailies Editor 

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The Dailies from Toronto

Contributing editors: Bruno Chatelin 

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Mike Rabehl Programmer and Buyer Cinequest Film Festival San Jose Tiwtter: @cqmike
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