Brave Films Wild Nights: 25 Years of Festival Fever

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by Brian D. Johnson
336 pages

A retrospective look at one of the world's premier film festivals. The Toronto International Film Festival was created 25 years ago by a bunch of high-rolling Canadian impresarios. Since then it has grown from a rude upstart to one of the world's largest and most influential film festivals -- second in importance only to Cannes.

The Toronto International Film Festival has a deliriously split personality, playing host both to Hollywood stars -- from Warren Beatty to Tom Cruise -- and to the renegades of independent cinema. And its own flamboyant history mirrors that of the art it has showcased.

This is a story of a volatile marriage between the counter-culture and the mainstream. From the fabled battles with Canadian censors to near riots outside cinemas, excitement and controversy have always been integral to the Festival. The Festival was famous for its parties. And in the early years it underwent a turbulent rite of passage, with tales of sex, drugs, and rock 'n 'roll involving such guests as Robbie Robertson, Martin Scorsese, and Robert De Niro.

But as the Festival matured, it became famous for its films. Among the landmark features launched at the Festival are The Big Chill, Diva, Chariots of Fire, Reservoir Dogs, Dead Ringers, Boogie Nights, Leaving Las Vegas, To Die For and Life is Beautiful. The Festival has also discovered hit documentaries, such as Michael Moore's Roger and Me, and found a North American audience for international directors such as Krzysztof Kieslowski and Wong Kar-Wai.

Brave Films, Wild Nights will chronicle the 25 years of the Toronto International Film Festival, and will feature numerous photographs and fresh interviews with stars and directors who have made it the extraordinary cirque of cinema that it is today.