(Toronto) North America’s largest film festival opens Thursday in Toronto with the launch of what is likely the final film by Oscar-winning Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, despite two strikes that paralyze Hollywood.

The organizers of the event, a springboard for numerous Oscar-winning films, were finalizing a series of premieres, galas and television shows when the actors started a social movement.

The CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) – which features works from dozens of countries – believes that the global reach of programming and the ability of filmmakers and actors to promote independent plays, even in the midst of strikes, testify to the “strength of cinema at the moment”.

“It took a few weeks to really understand the specifics and details of how we would behave at a strike-affected festival, but it turns out we’ll have a lot of talent on the red carpet,” said Cameron Bailey .

Among those expected in Canada’s largest city through September 17 are actors Patricia Arquette, Taika Waititi, Anna Kendrick and Ethan Hawke, all of whom have stepped behind the camera to direct their latest films.

French filmmaker Ladj Ly will present Undesirables, which takes a look at marginalized communities in the Paris suburbs four years after his Oscar-nominated debut feature Les Misérables.

The international premiere of the film The Holdovers, by director Alexander Payne (Sideways), is also on the program. This work tells the story of a teacher (Paul Giamatti) responsible for supervising students at a boarding school who cannot return home during the Christmas holidays.

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But the first headline screening Thursday night was supposed to be The Boy and the Heron, Miyazaki’s first feature film in a decade—and likely his last for the famed Studio Ghibli, at age 82.

The semi-autobiographical film, released in Japan in July, follows young Mahito as he navigates the horrors of World War II and the death of his mother. After meeting a gray heron, he sets out to find it in a colorful fantasy world.

“This is a film that we are particularly excited to present. He is one of the greatest artists in cinema, and this could well be his last film,” said Cameron Bailey.

Thursday evening will also be marked by the directorial debut of Patricia Arquette with her film Gonzo Girl as well as those of Kristin Scott Thomas with North Star.

Ms. Arquette will also receive an award on Sunday to highlight her role as a leading woman in the industry, who “constantly challenges conventions and elevates the discourse on pay equity,” according to the festival’s CEO.

Along with Venice and Telluride, Toronto is a key stage of the fall festivals, where many contenders for American awards are revealed during their premieres.

The TIFF People’s Choice Award has established itself in recent years as an important barometer in the race for the Oscars: two of its winners, Nomadland and Green Book, won the Oscar for best film after being noticed in Toronto.

Friday will see the premiere of Dumb Money, with Seth Rogen and Paul Dano, which looks back on the rebellion of thousands of stock marketers in 2021 to raise the stock of video game stores GameStop in the face of investment funds betting on its fall.

On Saturday, Robert De Niro will play Ezra, a father who sees his son come back to live under his roof, after the collapse of his career and his marriage.

The festival announces other world premieres, including Taika Waititi’s sports comedy A Dream Team, as well as Michael Keaton’s Knox Goes Away, which stars Al Pacino.

The festival comes at a time when Hollywood actors and screenwriters are waging a battle with major studios and streaming platforms over their salaries and working conditions.

The actors’ union SAG-AFTRA prohibits its members from promoting the films during the strike.

Exemptions have been proposed in certain cases. Furthermore, films screened in Toronto are not subject to strikes because they were produced independently or internationally.