Wednesday 24 January 2018

Hockey musical to kick off TIFF

Olivia Newton John's hockey musical will open the Toronto International Film Festival
Olivia Newton John's hockey musical will open the Toronto International Film Festival

Olivia Newton-John's latest film is to kick off the Toronto International Film Festival.

Director Michael McGowan's Score: A Hockey Musical opens the 11-day festival, the film featuring Newton-John as the mother of a teenage hockey sensation whose adventures play out amid bursts of song from the cast.

"It seems like it's in the zeitgeist. Everything from Glee to Once, there's an appetite for musicals," McGowan said. "We do hockey and we do music really well in Canada, and the fact that they haven't been combined before seems really amazing."

With 258 feature films and 81 short films, the Toronto line-up includes entries from such filmmakers as Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford and Ben Affleck, and features such talent as Bruce Springsteen, Matt Damon, Helen Mirren, Hilary Swank, Keira Knightley and Robert De Niro.

Unlike such festivals as Cannes, Venice, Sundance and Berlin, Toronto is a non-competitive event where filmmakers are not up against one another for prizes.

"It's way more laid back," said Damon, who stars in Eastwood's Hereafter, a drama centred on three characters with unusual connections to the afterlife.

"I like festivals in general as an alternative to the premieres, because you end up getting a bunch of filmmakers in the same place, and you can run around, catch other people's movies. You're always bumping into friends," Damon said.

Among Damon's friends at Toronto is Affleck, who directs and stars in the bank robbery thriller The Town.

"It's a testament to the prominence of this festival and it's growing influence that people are more commonly using it as a launching point for their movies," he said. "Everyone who's releasing a movie wants to get exposure, but they also want to do it in the right way, and Toronto works really well, because the audiences really like and appreciate movies."

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