Toronto film festival to slim down

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling at Toronto Film Festival 2016. (Getty Images)
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling at Toronto Film Festival 2016. (Getty Images)

Ottawa -North America's largest film festival will scale back this year, the Toronto International Film Festival announced Thursday.

Facing growing criticisms that the festival had grown too big and unwieldy, TIFF organizers are cutting two of its 16 programs and reducing the number of films that will be screened by 20 percent.

"As we build on the success of the festival's past four decades, we're challenged to balance providing a generous choice of movies for over 400,000 festival-goers with maintaining strong curatorial focus," artistic director Cameron Bailey said in a statement.

"For 2017 we're offering a refreshed, more tightly curated edition."

The festival - which has become a bellweather for Oscar-conscious studios and distributors - screened nearly 400 feature and short films from 83 countries last year.

The selections were varied, but audiences, journalists and film buyers and sellers said the overall quality of offerings had fallen as more films were packed into the schedule.

Many also said that picking which key films to watch posed a frustrating challenge.

Films such as 12 Years a Slave," The King's Speech, Slumdog Millionaire and Spotlight went on from winning the Toronto film festival people's choice award for best picture to take the top honor at the Oscars.

Last year's audience pick - director Damien Chazelle's La La Land, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone - is among this year's Academy Award nominees.

The festival's move to focus on "bold and discerning curation" comes as it faces increased competition from more tightly curated festivals including Venice and Telluride, which are held at around the same time as TIFF.

For this year's festival scheduled for September 7-17, TIFF is shedding its Vanguard program - which had showcased edgy films that did not necessarily fit into a particular genre -- and its City to City section, which featured directors from a designated city.

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