Toronto filmfest hopes to buck up weak Oscar season

Tue Sep 7, 2010 3:47pm EDT
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By Cameron French

TORONTO (Reuters) - It's normally a proving ground for movies hoping to make a splash during Oscar season, but in a 2010 film season that has been thin on critical successes, this year's edition of the Toronto Film Festival could grab an even bigger share of the spotlight.

Following a Cannes festival in May that lacked Oscar buzz and a summer loaded with sequels and remakes, industry players will sift through the 339 titles set to unspool in Toronto this week and next looking for another "Slumdog Millionaire" or "The Hurt Locker".

Both films parlayed Toronto success into Oscar wins.

"People are waiting for these fall pictures to drop to really fill out the dance card for the Oscars and (Golden) Globes and other awards," said Pete Hammond, a film critic and columnist at Deadline Hollywood.

The 11-day sprint of flashbulbs and red carpets kicks off on Thursday with the world premiere of Michael McGowan's "Score: A Hockey Musical".

The comedy fulfills the festival's traditional mandate of opening with a Canadian film, but it has already received some criticism for its low-brow subject matter.

While audiences will clamor for a look at stars such as Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro and Natalie Portman, filmmakers will hope to nail down distribution deals in an industry that has run short of funding in recent years.

Last year's festival was notable for a lack of distribution deals, and industry players are still cautious as revenue streams such as DVD sales have flagged.   Continued...