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Arts/Culture

Stars, fans converge in Toronto for annual film festival

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The Toronto International Film Festival starts Thursday. Over the years, the festival has become one of Hollywood's most important vehicles for launching new work and this year appears to be no exception.This year's festival is also looking to be as popular as ever for moviegoers. Thousands of them from Canada and the abroad are expected to flock to the city over the ten days of the festival. 

For Toronto, TIFF has also become a big money maker as tourists fill the downtown hotels and restaurants. The films themselves won't be cheap; a five-film "Buzz pack" goes for $1,500.

But for fans, it's a chance to see some highly-anticipated films, some of which are being talked about in Oscar terms. One of them is The Judge starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall. For Downey, a return to the Toronto festival is meaningful because in many ways, the festival back in 2005 signaled the actor's personal and critical comeback. 

Other enticing films to debut include Wild from Quebec filmmaker Jan-Marc Valee and Red Amnesia, a Chinese thriller. Some of the stars that will walk the red carpet this year include Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rose Byrne, Keira Knightley, Dustin Hoffman, Denzel Washington, Reese Witherspoon and Kevin Costner, just to name a few.

Nearly 300 films will be rolled out during the festival.

The Toronto event has become one of the most important venues for Hollywood and the movie industry. Buzz from the fans often leads to an Oscar. 12 Years A Slave, Argo, Slumdog Millionaire and The King's Speech were fan favorites that became breakout successes and later captured awards.