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Toronto Int’l Film Festival kicks off

The film festival, which runs through Sept. 18, is the largest in North America and has become a launchpad for Oscar-conscious studios and distributors, attracting hundreds of filmmakers and actors to the red carpet in Canada’s largest city.

Nearly 400 feature and short films from 83 countries will be screened at the festival.

Director Antoine Fuqua’s film is a reimagining of the Western classic that starred Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson — which in turn was a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Japanese-language epic “Seven Samurai.”

In the latest version, Washington plays Sam Chisolm, a bounty hunter who leads his crew to liberate a Wild West town from the clutches of an evil industrialist played by Peter Sarsgaard (who also appears at the festival in “Jackie”) and his private army of henchmen.

While initially motivated by cash offered by townswoman Emma Cullen (played by Haley Bennett), these swashbucklers end up taking a principled stand against greed and hegemony to save the fledgling town.

Fuqua told AFP during post-production in April that he hoped to dispel a mythology of the American frontier propagated by Hollywood, that it was populated by ranchers, lawmen and outlaws battling for money or land on behalf of White America.

The real Wild West’s racial makeup was actually a melting pot of Europeans, Chinese, Mexicans, Native Americans and blacks.

“Westerns change for the times they’re in,” Fuqua told a press conference ahead of the gala screening of the film in Toronto.

“We made our film based on the world we live in right now,” he said. “If we were sticking to just one way of doing something, all Westerns would be all white guys looking like John Wayne.”

Metaphor For Today’s America