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Toronto's film festival cuts back on activities

Thursday, September 13, 2001

By Ron Weiskind, Post-Gazette Movie Editor

TORONTO -- For now, at least, the festival will go on. The festivities, however, will not. "We're continuing to take this one day at a time," said Piers Handling, president and executive director of the Toronto International Film Festival.

The festival shut down Tuesday afternoon in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the United States but reopened yesterday.

Movie screenings will continue, although many have been rescheduled. A few films have not yet arrived in Toronto. But some prints that festival officials assumed would not show up on time "miraculously appeared," Handling said in a press conference yesterday -- the second in less than 24 hours regarding the status of the festival, originally scheduled to run through Saturday. Some of yesterday's canceled screenings now will take place on Sunday.

All extraneous festival-sponsored events, including the closing-night party and red-carpet arrival lines at theaters, have been canceled. The awards brunch will be replaced by a press conference. "Obviously, a pall has been cast over the festival," Handling said. "It will become now, and should become, subdued."

The festival has tightened security, and its crisis team is meeting on a regular basis to assess the situation and discern the moods of film-goers, industry personnel and news media covering the festival as to whether those groups feel the event should continue.

"Everybody needed a day to grieve, and that included us," Michelle Maheux, the festival's managing director, said. "What we're hearing back is that it was the right thing to do to shut down for the day in deference, and that it was the right thing to do to start up again today."

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