Canadian filmmaker Paul Gross' "Passchendaele" will open the 33rd Toronto International Film Festival with its world premiere on September 4, 2008. Set during World War I, the film follows a wounded Canadian solider who falls in love on the homefront and then returns to the battlefield for the third battle of Ypres, also knows as "Passchendaele." Co-produced by Niv Fichman, Frank Siracusa and Francis Damberger, the film stars filmmaker Gross, Caroline Dhavernas, Gil Bellows and Joe Dinicol.
Gross, a renowned Canadian film and theatre actor, is perhaps best known to American audiences for his television roles, on Canadian exports "Due South" and "Slings and Arrows." "Paul Gross is an inspiring Canadian and a leader in our industry," said new festival co-director Cameron Bailey, in a statement. "By paying tribute to our nation's heroes - including his own grandfather, an Alberta veteran of Passchendaele - 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."
The 2008 Toronto International Film Festival continues through September 13th in the Canadian city.
Since the conclusion of last year's event, organizers have announced a number of changes at the Toronto fest, widely considered one of the most important in the world. In December, Cameron Bailey was named co-director of the festival when Noah Cowan was named Artistic Director of Bell Lightbox, the Toronto International Film Festival Group's under-construction cultural institution and headquarters.
Last month, Raymond Phathanavirangoon from Fortissimo Films was named the festival's new Southeast Asian programmer, while in April, Matthew Hays was appointed Canadian feature programmer and Kathleen Mullen was named Short Cuts Canada programmer.