September 10, 2021
(Reuters) – The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) lifted its curtains to a live audience for the first time in two years on Thursday with the world premiere of the musical “Dear Evan Hansen”.
The film, an adaptation of the Broadway production, stars Tony Award winner Ben Platt reprising his role as a high school student with social anxiety who gets caught up in a lie. Julianne Moore, Amy Adams and Kaitlyn Dever are among the cast.
“I love the story very deeply. It’s been very close to my heart for many years so the fact that it’s going so be on such a larger platform and seen by so many is really an exciting gift,” Platt told reporters on the red carpet.
Platt, 27, said he had his own struggles with anxiety and that he had tried to make the character “as human and connected” as possible.
Moore, who plays Evan Hansen’s mother, said she had been a fan of the stage musical for years. “So to suddenly find myself in the middle of this story – how really lucky I was as an actor,” she said.
The Toronto festival will be a mix of in-person and digital events, screening almost 200 films over ten days.
Other premieres include “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” starring Jessica Chastain as the flamboyant U.S. televangelist, documentaries about singers Dionne Warwick and Alanis Morissette, and films starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightley and Melissa McCarthy.
Warwick, Chastain, British actor Benedict Cumberbatch and “Dune” director Denis Villeneuve are among those who will receive honorary awards.
The Toronto festival has traditionally been seen as a showcase for movies that go on to win Oscars, including this year’s best picture winner, “Nomadland.”
Last year’s event was scaled back dramatically, but while film festivals in Cannes and Venice this year had exclusively physical events, Toronto organizers said months ago that they would move forward with a hybrid model.
Films will be shown online and outdoors with some screenings in movie theaters before limited capacity audiences. Attendees must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test before entering a physical venue.
Canada only recently reopened its borders to fully vaccinated American tourists and opened to international visitors two days ago.
Canada is currently experiencing a fourth wave of COVID-19 driven by the Delta variant, despite relatively high vaccination rates nationwide.
(Reporting by Moira Warburton, Editing by Jill Serjeant and Karishma Singh)
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