Which Top Stars Will Reign Over Toronto International Film Festival?

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) kicked off today, and the ten-day event is going to see a ton of celebrities gracing Canada’s largest city. And according to social media, movie fans are beyond excited about this 40th edition of the fest.

The slogan for this year’s film festival is “Defining moments since 1976” and has many longtime followers of the event feeling a bit nostalgic, even as they see the big name flicks of the future on venue screens. So, who is all scheduled to show up?

According to Huffington Post, the list includes Oscar winners like Matt Damon, Susan Sarandon, Sandra Bullock and Kate Winslet. TIFF also announced that Johnny Depp, Jessica Chastain, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Steve Martin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Tom Hardy, Idris Elba, Drew Barrymore, Benedict Cumberbatch and Naomi Watts are all scheduled to appear. Overall, the giant movie marathon known as the Toronto International Film Festival will feature 399 films from 71 countries with some big premieres taking center stage, including Black Mass, The Martian, The Danish Girl, LEGEND, and Demolition.

Artistic director of the Toronto International Film Festival, Cameron Bailey, talked to the CBC about the importance of TIFF to the movie industry and how the eager fans have always been excellent at voting People’s Choice winners that eventually went on to become Oscar winners, like 12 Years a Slave, The King’s Speech, and Chariots of Fire.

“…[T]he advantage that we have now, four decades on, is that people understand the success, going back to The Big Chill, American Beauty and so many other films that have gone on to remarkable success here….We have the Toronto audience as our secret weapon. They are the best film audience in the world. They’re sophisticated, not snobbish. They are ready to embrace a film. They’re ready to be impressed. They’re not sitting with their arms folded like they are at some other festivals, you know waiting to be disappointed or to turn up their noses….That atmosphere is what brings people to Toronto every year.”

This year, a Primetime section has been added to TIFF where TV shows and specials will be showcased and highlighted. The creator of Mad Men, Matthey Weiner, will be at one of the Q-and-A sessions which are called “In Conversation With,” where he will do a live commentary over the final episode of the series called “The Wheel,” which Cameron Bailey was quite excited about.

“We got in touch with him once we knew Mad Men would be wrapping up. Having that (conversation) in conjunction with the launch of the Primetime section is a great combination to really show that we’re deep into television.”

According to Stephen Whitty, who wrote on NJ.com, TIFF is important as well because it kicks off right at the “unofficial” start of the awards season, and it’s a chance for critics, fans, stars, and distributors to get a glimpse at what is to come to their TV and movie screens in the next few exciting months for Hollywood.

The hashtag for the Toronto International Film Festival is #TIFF15, and the event, which is expected to draw a half a million people, runs until September 20.

[Photo from TIFF]