Toronto film fest to maintain its scope despite recession

The Toronto International Film Festival says it won’t be scaling back because of the recession.

TORONTO — The Toronto International Film Festival says it won’t be scaling back because of the recession.

Festival director Piers Handling says the same number of titles will unspool when the annual movie marathon gets underway in September.

“We want to present the same size festival,” Handling said Monday following an elaborate press conference to announce federal funds for TIFF and other cultural events.

“We’re obviously being sensitive to the climate out there …but we have no plans to make the festival smaller.

“We think it feels very comfortable this year — it’s still a relatively cheap ticket for the audience to come to the festival that’s important for us to keep it still accessible.”

The assurance came as Peter Kent, minister of state of foreign affairs, announced a $3-million boost for the film festival. The cash is part of Ottawa’s marquee tourism events program, designed to pump $100 million into various festivals and attractions.

Other funding recipients include the Calgary Stampede, the Edmonton Fringe Festival, the Shaw and Stratford theatre festivals and the Montreal jazz festival.

The Stratford festival recently announced it was putting 30 performances on hold due to slumping ticket sales in the economic downturn.

Kent said the government believes tourism is a key driver of the Canadian economy, and noted it contributes about two per cent annually to the GDP.

“Tourism has been one of the fastest growing industries in the world,” Kent said as dozens of film industry guests noshed on popcorn and mini-cupcakes while sipping wine at the media event, held in a window-panelled ballroom at the top of a downtown hotel.

“Further expansion of Canada’s tourism brand can increase tourism export revenues at home and provide stimulus to the economy at a very critical time.

“Given the global economic uncertainty, now is the time to act to strengthen our investment.”

TIFF runs Sept. 10 to 19.

On the Net:

www.tiff09.ca

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