Hokey hockey musical kicks off Toronto film fest

Thu Sep 9, 2010 4:33pm EDT
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By Ka Yan Ng and Cameron French

TORONTO (Reuters) - "Score: A Hockey Musical", the movie that opens the Toronto Film Festival on Thursday, is both a departure and a return to tradition for one of Canada's signature cultural events.

The festival, seen as a starting point for the race for the Oscars, raised the ire of the local arts community last year when it ditched its tradition of showcasing a Canadian film on opening night and chose British evolutionist drama "Creation".

This year the pendulum has swung back with the force of a hockey slapshot with a hokey musical about Canada's favorite sport -- think the musical TV show "Glee" on skates -- as the festival's gala opening show.

That more than adequately fulfills the made-in-Canada mandate. But "Score"'s inclusion has also sparked a debate over giving low-brow subject matter such plum placement.

"This is a movie that will divide opening night audiences, when dour 'important' Canadian movies are usually on display," wrote Jim Slotek of QMI Agency.

"The Oscar-bait fare that usually comes to Toronto is usually morbid, high-toned affairs with lots of grieving , angst and broken families," wrote Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today. "This one is just pure fun."

Fun is a theme that festival organizers want to promote as they cut the ribbon on the festival's new permanent home in downtown Toronto this weekend. The complex houses five public cinemas, galleries, learning studios, and several restaurants.

"We thought this is a year for celebration. Let's find a film that fits that same mood," said Cameron Bailey, a co-director of the Toronto festival.   Continued...

<p>A scene from "Score: A Hockey Musical" REUTERS/TIFF</p>