Toronto film festival promises deals, less glitz

Tue Sep 8, 2009 4:16pm EDT
 
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By Cameron French

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto International Film Festival will pull back the curtain for its 34th edition this week, as an unofficial kick-off to the Oscars for an industry whose glitz factor has been dulled by the slumping economy.

More than 330 films from 64 countries will be screened over 10 days from Thursday, up slightly from 2008. Many were financed last year before funds dried up as a result of the global financial crisis.

Although participants expect fewer lavish parties, they say the festival should still be a deal-making hotbed as distributors clamor to uncover the next "Chariots of Fire" or "Slumdog Millionaire."

Those films won the Oscar for Best Picture after garnering attention at the Toronto festival.

As of last week, about one-third of the films on the bill this year lacked distribution rights in major territories.

"My feeling is that this is going to be a very good year as far as dealmaking is concerned because there are so many unknown films that look intriguing" said Michael Barker, co-president of Sony Pictures Classics.

"Every year, several of those films have always been bought. I don't think that's going to change this year."

Barker, however, said he expects the value for deals to distribute top films will likely fall from past years.   Continued...

 
<p>Actor Michael Stuhlbarg in a scene from the Coen brothers' "A Serious Man". REUTERS/TIFF/Handout</p>