The Toronto International Film Festival opened on Thursday with The Boy and the Heron by famed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, the first time an animated feature has taken the coveted spot.
Although there was a dearth of star power on the red carpet due to the Hollywood actors strike, festival goers can look forward to some 50 films over 11 days, including Craig Gillespie’s Dumb Money, Lee which stars Kate Winslet and Taika Waititi’s Next Goal Wins. The festival will also include directorial debuts for Patricia Arquette with Gonzo Girl and for Kristin Scott Thomas with North Star.
Studio Ghibli executive Junichi Nishioka said it was an honour for The Boy and the Heron to have been chosen as the opener for the festival. “It shows that animation and live-action films don’t need to be differentiated anymore,” he said.
The film, a semi-autobiographical story of a young boy struggling with the death of his mother, is expected to Miyazaki’s swan song. The 82-year-old director, known for works such as Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro, did not attend the opening.
The Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild- American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) have been on strike since May over pay and the use of artificial intelligence. Gonzo Girl stars Arquette, Camila Morrone and William Dafoe were among the few actors gaining union approval to promote their films.