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Toronto Film Festival Sets 2013 Dates That Overlap With Jewish Holy Days

Toronto International Film Festical will try to schedule repeat screenings for movies running on the Jewish holy days

The Toronto International Film Festival announced its 2013 dates, Sept. 5-15, 2013, which overlap with the Jewish High Holy Days and could leave some filmmakers, agents and executives to face a tough decision — to pray or to go.

The dates for the festival, one of the fall's premiere events, overlap with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year (Sept. 4 – Sept. 6), and Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar (Sept. 13-14).

Artistic director Cameron Bailey acknowledged the conflict in Monday’s announcement, blaming the busy schedule of festivals in September and October.

“As always, we launch on the Thursday after Labour Day,” Bailey said in a statement. “This year that means our dates unfortunately overlap with both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. With our position fixed in a crowded calendar of festivals regulated by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF), it’s not possible to shift the dates. As a result, we will do our best to schedule repeat screenings to accommodate festivalgoers who will be observing the Jewish High Holy Days.”

Those observing either holiday typically spend the day (and sometimes night) in temple. Yom Kippur also calls for a fast — excluding even that Canadian staple, maple syrup.  

Toronto is one of the few can’t-miss festivals of the year thanks to its breadth of offerings and a growing but unofficial market. This year, it featured 147 world premieres and more than 400,000 public attendees.

In recent years, it has gained prominence in the run-up to the Oscars, helping to launch films such as “The King’s Speech” on their way to Best Picture wins.