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TIFF kicks off Thursday; portion of King closed

Last Updated Sep 7, 2017 at 7:54 am EST

The TIFF Bell Lightbox party on King Street in 2010.

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) kicks off Thursday, which means movies, movie stars and a major downtown road closure.

King Street is already closed from University Avenue to Peter Street and will remain closed until 5 a.m. on Monday. John Street is also closed between King and Wellington streets.

Streetcars will be diverting in the area. Click here for service details.

The closure is for Festival Street, a pedestrian promenade that houses TIFF events.

“Borg/McEnroe,” about the two tennis stars who battled at Wimbledon in 1980, is the opening night film. Shia LaBeouf is among the film’s stars and is expected to attend the 11-day festival.

Other films in the lineup include “Suburbicon,” directed by George Clooney, Darren Aronofsky’s “mother!” starring Jennifer Lawrence and Alexander Payne’s “Downsizing.”

About a third of the films in the lineup are directed by women, including Angelina Jolie’s “First They Killed My Father.”

About 340 films will screen at this year’s fest, which runs until Sept. 17.

It’s a smaller number than in recent years – a result of a TIFF mandate to trim the overall number of titles by 20 per cent. Organizers said they made the changes in response to feedback from audiences, the industry and the media.

Piers Handling, director and CEO of TIFF, says this year’s lineup features adventurous work by major filmmakers at a time when the instinct is to not take risks.

“It’s terrific to see these very strong, very individualistic, challenging pieces of work still being done,” he said in a recent interview.

“People talk about the death of independent cinema and how everything is a franchise or a comic book or that kind of thing – it’s not really true,” added Cameron Bailey, artistic director of TIFF.

“Some of the best filmmakers are still getting the chance to tell adventurous stories, to be bold with the ideas in their movies and to still work with big budgets.”

Other stars expected to attend the festival include Denzel Washington (“Roman J. Israel, Esq.”), Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba (both of “Molly’s Game”) and Steve Carell and Emma Stone (co-stars of “Battle Of The Sexes”).

Some A-listers will also discuss their craft at a multitude of Q-and-A special events, including Jolie, Helen Mirren, Glenn Close and Javier Bardem. Meanwhile, Christopher Nolan will speak at an IMAX screening of “Dunkirk,” Aaron Sorkin will conduct a master class, and Louis C.K. will do a live TIFF Long Take podcast for his film “I Love You, Daddy.”


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