Toronto Film Festival officials said today they will open this year’s edition tomorrow night with a tribute to critic Roger Ebert, who received similar homage treatment at this year’s just-ended Telluride Film Festival. The tribute will precede the screening of the opening-night film, the Julian Assange pic The Fifth Estate, in Roy Thomson Hall. A video will feature homages to Ebert from festival co-founder Bill Marshall, former festival director Helga Stephenson, producer Robert Lantos and others. The fest will present Ebert’s widow Chaz with a commemorative plaque, a replica of one that has been installed on a chair named in the critic’s honor inside TIFF Bell Lightbox’s Cinema One, the festival’s year-round home. Ebert, who died in April, was a champion of TIFF from its start in 1976, later calling the festival “the most important in North America”. “Roger was a huge presence at the festival for over 30 years,” said Toronto director and CEO Piers Handling. “He was one of the key people who put the Toronto International Film Festival on the map, and we feel it is only fitting that we pay tribute to Roger in the way we would hope he would have wanted — in a cinema surrounded by friends, family and the Toronto audience, which was so close to Roger’s heart.” The Toronto fest runs through September 15.
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