30 years of Toronto Fest

A timeline


  • Launch of Festival of Festivals, a public, noncompetitive event for commercial and arthouse fare. Screens 127 films.


  • Debut of “Outrageous!” creates a buzz that ultimately shapes its promotional campaign, helping it become one of Canada’s biggest hits.


  • Premiere of doc “Best Boy” sells out three shows, goes on to win documentary Oscar. Launch of Trade Forum, formalizes industry element.


  • “Chariots of Fire” is a Toronto premiere and goes on to win the picture Oscar. Acclaim for Jean-Jacques Beineix’s “Diva” convinces European distribs to release it overseas again; pic goes on to become an international hit.


  • Newly inaugurated Director’s Spotlight marks North American premiere of Pedro Almodovar’s “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.”


  • Offbeat movie showcase Midnight Madness debuts.


  • “Reversal of Fortune” premieres; Jeremy Irons goes on to win an Academy Award.


  • Budding filmmakers Baz Luhrmann, Peter Jackson, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino all screen films at the fest.


  • Stephen Frears’ “The Snapper” edges out “The Piano” for the Audience Award. The Holly Hunter pic goes on to win Oscars for actress, supporting actress and original screenplay.


  • Festival of Festivals officially renamed the Toronto Intl. Film Festival


  • Number of films unspooling hits 300. “Leaving Las Vegas” debuts to strong acclaim. Nicolas Cage later snags the actor Oscar.


  • “Shine” wins every eligible prize and caps that with an actor Oscar for Geoffrey Rush.


  • “Life Is Beautiful” screens; goes on to win actor, foreign-language and original score Oscars.


  • Screenings of future Oscar nominees include “American Beauty,” “The Cider House Rules,” “Sweet and Lowdown,” “Boys Don’t Cry” and “The Hurricane.”


  • “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” screens; will win the foreign-language Oscar.


n “No Man’s Land” and “Training Day” unspool at the fest and win foreign-language film and actor (Denzel Washington) Oscars, respectively. Fest screenings grind to a halt as Sept. 11 attacks rock the U.S.


  • Lions Gate acquires horror pic “Cabin Fever” after it screens in Midnight Madness for an estimated $3.5 million, plus a $12 million P&A commitment.


  • “The Barbarian Invasions,” a future foreign-language Oscar winner, opens the fest.


  • “Crash” ignites bidding war, selling to Lions Gate for north of $4 million. Future Oscar winners “Ray” (actor) and “Sideways” (screenplay) debut.
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