Toronto brings its festival out of the theater

Hosting more events for public, including concerts, street arts

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TORONTO -- The Toronto International Film Festival on Tuesday unveiled plans to take it to the streets with free outdoor stage events, including an opening-night music concert.

Toronto, looking to bolster its reputation as the people's festival, will beam via satellite feed the opening-night red carpet procession from Roy Thomson Hall to a giant screen at the Yonge-Dundas Square, followed by a free concert by DJ Champion. Rapper Chuck D will host and perform at the festival's wrap party on Sept. 19.

Also on closing night, Toronto will provide a free screening of the festival's audience award winner at the Elgin Theatre. The 2008 winner of Toronto's People's Choice award was Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire."

Toronto festival co-director Cameron Bailey said the free street fest aims to thank ordinary Toronto residents for their support, "because it's this devotion that continues to make it one of the best in the world."

Taking the festival outside darkened cinemas, Toronto organizers invited American poet Sapphire to do a free reading in the Yonge-Dundas Square, and the National Ballet of Canada to perform a preview presentation of its latest production from Aszure Barton.

Other street arts events include music-themed movie screenings; concerts; short-film screenings; a roller-derby exhibition to accompany the world premiere of Drew Barrymore's directorial debut, "Whip It," a roller derby drama from Fox Searchlight; swing-dancing lessons; and the Toronto zombie walk, followed by a free screening of George A. Romero's 1968 classic "Night of the Living Dead."

The Toronto International Film Festival is set for Sept. 10-19.
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