1976 First Toronto Intl. Film Festival opens with French pic “Cousin, Cousine,” replacing last-minute cancellation “Bound for Glory.”1978 Ontario Censor Board unsuccessfully tries to force fest to cut footage from controversial Canuck pic “In Praise of Older Women,” which opens fest. 1981 Gallic helmer Jean-Jacques Beineix’s stylish “Diva,” which flopped in France, creates a stir at Toronto and is sold to U.S. distrib UA Classics, and becomes a hit in North America and Europe. 1983 “The Big Chill” opens fest, goes on to box office success. 1984 Perspective Canada, showcase for homegrown cinema, launches. Fest throws lavish Warren Beatty tribute with guests Arthur Penn, Robert Towne, Jerzy Kosinski and Jack Nicholson. 1985 Longtime fest director Wayne Clarkson ankles to become head of the Ontario Film Development Corp. 1986 Vancouver Intl. Film Festival founder Leonard Schein takes over as fest director, resigns after just one edition in the top job. Deputy festival director Helga Stephenson is named festival director. 1987 First signs of a new wave of Canadian cinema emerge with premieres at the festival of Patricia Rozema’s “I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing” and Jean-Claude Lauzon’s “Un Zoo, La Nuit.” 1989 Michael Moore’s indie documentary “Roger and Me” prompts a bidding war, wins the People’s Choice Award as most popular film at the festival and goes on to nab a $3 million deal with Warner Bros. Toronto helmer Bruce McDonald’s black-and-white rock ‘n’ roll comedy “Roadkill” takes the C$25,000 ($17,000) prize for best Canadian film. In his acceptance speech, McDonald memorably says he’s going to use the cash to buy a big hunk of hash. 1994 British helmer Antonia Bird’s “Priest,” a controversial tale of a gay Catholic priest, creates a sensation, wins the People’s Choice Award and is bought by Miramax. Stephenson steps down as fest director. Piers Handling takes the position. 1996 Australian helmer Scott Hicks’ “Shine” wins the People’s Choice Award and the media-voted Metro Media Award. 1997 Robert Duvall’s “The Apostle” is sold to October Films for $5 million, the biggest deal ever to come out of the festival. Halifax writer-director Thom Fitzgerald’s feature debut, “The Hanging Garden,” opens Perspective Canada and is sold to MGM. 1998 Opening pic “The Red Violin,” from helmer Francois Girard, and Perspective Canada opener “Last Night,” from helmer Don McKellar, both sell to Lions Gate Releasing. Roberto Benigni’s “Life Is Beautiful” wins audience award and goes on to win foreign-language Oscar. 1999 Helmer Sam Mendes’ “American Beauty,” starring Kevin Spacey, has its world preem in a Saturday Gala slot, wins the audience award, creates major buzz and eventually wins Oscar for best picture. 2000 Twenty-fifth anniversary edition of fest kicks off with North American preem of Denys Arcand’s “Stardom” and hosts a gala tribute to British filmmaker Stephen Frears.
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