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Spike Lee doc to open Toronto International Film Festival

NEW YORK — The 45th Toronto International Film Festival will be a much diminished event this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it has an opening-night film. Spike Lee’s filmed version of David Byrne’s Broadway theatrical concert “American Utopia” will kick off the largely virtual fall festival.

Festival organizers said Tuesday that “American Utopia” will premiere on Sept. 10 in Toronto, even if it remains unclear if it will be a physical screening. That, the festival noted, will be contingent on the dictates of Ontario health officials. TIFF’s Toronto headquarters currently remain closed.

Much of the film industry won’t be able to attend, regardless. The festival said Monday that all screenings for press and industry members will be held on a digital platform. Non-essential travel between the U.S. and Canada is restricted through at least late August.

In late June, TIFF announced plans for a festival both virtual and in-person, with just a fraction of the usual 250-400 feature films that annually debut at North America’s largest film festival. Toronto organizers have announced about 50 movies for this year’s edition, though the line-up has little similarity to the usual barrage of starry awards contenders and major Hollywood fall films that typically launch in Toronto.


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