TORONTO 2001: Stunned Festival Dark For One Day; News From The U.S. Shocks, Saddens Attendees

by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE

(indieWIRE/09.12.01) -- A somber Piers Handling,
Festival Director for the Toronto International Film
Festival, spoke with a standing-room only gathering of
journalists yesterday at the Park Hyatt Hotel,
reacting to an overwhelming day. He announced that out
of respect for yesterday's tragedy in the United
States, the event had been canceled for the day
(Tuesday), but said it would resume today (Wednesday).

"All of us are reeling," Handling said, accompanied by
Managing Director Michele Maheux. "At this point, the
intent is to run the rest of the festival." Handling
added that he and a number of other advisors and
involved parties would monitor any further
developments and revise their decision if necessary.

"I think dark screens are appropriate today," Michele
Maheux added, as the quiet room of reporters listened.

The Festival's official statement, issued at 4:30 p.m.
yesterday afternoon, indicated that all screenings and
Rogers Industry Centre events would resume today, but
indicated that tonight's Celluloid Celebration has
been canceled. Some 28 public and 13 press/industry
screenings were canceled. Organizers intend to
re-schedule the showings, with updates available on
the Internet at and Handling added that he and his staff
are sensitive to security issues and will make
necessary arrangements if appropriate.

Throughout the day, industry attendees and others
gathered in groups throughout various rooms of the
Park Hyatt Festival headquarters. Members of the media
sat on the floor of the press office, watching media
coverage of events unfolding in New York City and
Washington, D.C. Some cried and others expressed
disbelief as people worked the phones to try to
connect with friends and loved-ones back in the

Attendees debated the decision to cancel the festival
for the day. Some felt that such a disruption would
give in to those who carried out the devastating
attacks in the United States. Other festival-goers who
spoke with indieWIRE said that they could not imagine
a more appropriate response and applauded the

"We are part of a social community that we have to
remain sensitive to," Handling said during his
remarks, wrapping up the press conference after about
20 minutes. He indicated that another briefing would
be held during the late-morning today.