Priyanka, Mira Nair at TIFF as festival kicks off without crowds

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BY GURMUKH SINGH
Toronto, (IANS)
Even as corona cases once again showed a spike in Canada’s largest city, the 45th Toronto International Film festival (TIFF), one of the world’s major movie shows, opened Friday, with no red carpets, no celebrities and no crowds.
The 10-day festival kicked off with opening-night screening of David Byrne’s “American Utopia”, which is directed by Spike Lee and documents the former Talking Heads frontman’s 2019 Broadway show.
TIFF Bell Lightbox, the headquarters of the festival here, is jam-packed on the opening nights of the film festivals. But it wore a deserted look.
Mira Nair’s BBC series “A Suitable Boy” will close the film festival on September 19.
Priyanka Chopra, who is almost a regular at each TIFF, will be seen in an Instagram conversation with festival artistic director Cameron Bailey on Friday.
TIFF usually marks the beginning of the Oscar buzz because the audiences in Toronto get to see many films which reach the rest of the world much later.
In normal times, the festival features over 300 full-length films, documentaries and shorts. But this year’s line-up has been truncated to just 60 titles.
Among the major titles, Halle Berry’s directorial debut “Bruised” — a sports film about a mixed martial fighter facing her opponents and trying to win custody of her six-year-old son — will have its world premiere on September 12.
With all Toronto theatres closed, in-person screenings are being held only at small theatres at TIFF Bell Lightbox and four drive-in locations across the city, with mandatory masking and social distancing. Ticket buyers can also watch films and live chats on a streaming platform.
Since TIFF pumps in about $200 million each year into Toronto’s economy, the third largest city in North America this year faces a clean wipeout in terms of revenue from the event.

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