Toronto film fest opens with The Band doc

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Toronto film fest opens with The Band doc

The 44th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) kicked off Thursday with a documentary celebration of Canadian rock group The Band and the premiere of Armando Iannucci’s adaptation of “David Copperfield.”

The start of North America’s largest film festival heralds the beginning of the fall movie season and the coming Oscar race.

It’s a condensed awards season this year due to an earlier Academy Awards ceremony, adding a little more pressure on films to make a strong impression right out of the gate at Toronto.

Among the films on tap at this year’s TIFF are the Mr. Rogers drama “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” with Tom Hanks, the Jennifer Lopez stripper revenge tale “Hustlers,” Eddie Murphy’s Netflix film “Dolemite Is My Name,” the Christian Bale-Matt Damon auto-racing tale “Ford v Ferrari,” the legal drama “Just Mercy,” with Michael B. Jordan and “Judy,” with Renee Zellweger as Judy Garland.

Officially opening the festival Thursday night was “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band,” a documentary based on Robertson’s 2016 memoir “Testify.” Playing later in the evening, too, was Martin Scorsese’s 1978 classic concert film on The Band’s final show, “The Last Waltz.”

Scorsese, old friends with Robertson, attended the premiere of “Once Were Brothers.” Robertson has frequently composed music for Scorsese’s films, including his latest, “The Irishman.”

Also debuting Thursday was Iannucci’s Dickens adaptation “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” starring Dev Patel.

It’s the latest film from the “Veep” creator and writer-director of the 2017 satire “The Death of Stalin.”

Heading into the festival, both films had been up for sale. But before the curtain went up, both had been sold. That’s a potentially promising start to what is one of the most frenetic movie markets. Late last month, Fox Searchlight acquired “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” with plans to release it next year.

It’s not uncommon for a high-profile film to draw a bidding war in Toronto and then be quickly inserted into awards season. That’s what happened with the Tonya Harding tale “I, Tonya” two years ago, when Neon bought it after heated bidding.

It went on to land three Academy Award nominations, with Allison Janney winning the best supporting actress statuette.


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