This year's TIFF, which kicks off September 5, will open Thursday night with a film tribute to Roger Ebert (1942-2013). Toronto credits Ebert's presigious attendance in helping the festival grow from "a bootstrap operation to the unofficial opener to Academy Awards season."
TIFF director and CEO Piers Handling stated that “Roger was a huge presence at the festival for over 30 years. He was one of the key people who put the Toronto International Film Festival on the map, and we feel it is only fitting that we pay tribute to Roger in the way we would hope he would have wanted -- in a cinema surrounded by friends, family and the Toronto audience, which was so close to Roger’s heart.”
The 8pm tribute precedes the world premiere of Bill Condon's “The Fifth Estate,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, in Roy Thomson Hall, which seats approximately 2,000. The video will feature homages to Ebert from festival co-founder Bill Marshall, former festival director Helga Stephenson, producer Robert Lantos and others.
At the tribute, TIFF will present Chaz Ebert with a commemorative plaque, a replica of one that has been installed on a chair named in her husband’s honor inside TIFF Bell Lightbox’s Cinema One.