(Toronto) The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) opens Thursday amid a double strike by Hollywood screenwriters and actors, but event director Cameron Bailey touts its programming and ticket sales solid.

Thursday night’s opening film is Hayao Miyazaki’s animated feature, The Boy and the Heron, which centers on a boy who loses his mother in World War II and embarks on a journey into a magical world.

Among the celebrities expected this year are Sean Penn, Willem Dafoe, Spike Lee, Lil Nas X, Nicolas Cage, Nickelback and Patricia Arquette.

However, expectations for premieres and star-studded parties remain subdued as writers and actors continue their work stoppage, which extends to publicity events.

Hollywood screenwriters’ and actors’ unions are each seeking better pay and job protection in their employment contracts.

Despite the litigation, Bailey says ticket sales are going well.

“Just the ticket sales we’ve seen so far with the interest in the festival […] it’s stronger than ever,” Mr Bailey said ahead of the festival.

“We are the center of the cinema world and we are proud of it. »