Toronto Film Fest Cancels Opening Press Conference After Mass Shooting

Courtesy of TIFF
Festival director Piers Handling

"We stand with our fellow Torontonians in condemnation of this violence," the festival said after a deadly rampage in the city's Greektown district left two people dead and 13 injured.

The Toronto Film Festival has canceled its opening press conference after a gunman began randomly firing on bystanders and restaurant diners along Toronto’s busy Danforth Avenue on Sunday night. The horrific events left an 18-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl dead, and another 13 people injured.

The presser, planned for Tuesday, was to be led by festival director Piers Handling and artistic director Cameron Bailey.

"In light of the tragedy that occurred last night in Toronto and out of respect for those affected, TIFF is cancelling its scheduled press conference tomorrow, July 24th," the festival said in a statement issued on Monday morning.

The alleged shooter, who was identified on Monday evening by Toronto police as Faisal Hussain, 29, also died at the scene after police reportedly returned his fire. “I can’t speak to what was in the individual’s mind,” Det.-Sgt. Terry Browne, lead investigator for the Toronto police, told reporters during a brief press conference on Monday morning to provide an update on the shooting incident.

Having scrapped its own traditionally glitzy opening press conference, Toronto organizers will instead issue a press release indicating their first high-profile Hollywood titles for gala and Special Presentations slots on Tuesday morning.

"The Toronto Danforth area is the gold standard of our city's vibrancy, and we stand with our fellow Torontonians in condemnation of this violence," the festival added in a statement.

The Toronto Film Festival in 2001 saw its 26th edition interrupted by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and elsewhere. The deadly events of that day left stunned Hollywood celebrities and film execs stranded in the city and glued to TV sets as they watched the U.S. terror attacks unfold.

The 2018 Toronto Film Festival is set to run from Sept. 6 to 16.

July 23, 6:30 p.m. Updated with Toronto police identifying the alleged shooter as Faisal Hussain, 29.