Last year, the Toronto International Film Festival opened with Jeremy Podeswa's World War II film Fugitive Pieces -- an opener that elicited descriptors from "smart choice" to "leaden and pretentious." This year, we're going to get more war, but this time around, it'll be a few years earlier for WWI and it comes from a surprising source.
The NY Post reports that Paul Gross' Passchendaele will kick off the festival on September 4. Yes, this is the Paul Gross of Mountie-clad Due South, who starred with now-director Peter Berg in Aspen Extreme, and recently was one of the Men with Brooms. He wrote the feature, and stars as Michael Dunne -- a man injured in France who comes home to Calgary. However, a romance with a nurse inspires him to go back to France to protect her younger brother, who is embroiled in the third battle of Ypres, otherwise known as Passchendaele.

Unfortunately, even though Gross has a ton of light fare under his belt, this film should prove to be just as heavy as last year's selection. Passchendaele wasn't a battle that ended in great strategic gains, but rather a battle that gained a little bit of land in exchange for the deaths of approximately half a million men. (And most of the territory was regained by Germany the next year.) Still, kudos to you, Mr. Gross, and I can't wait to see what you've done!