Chaz Ebert on what Roger Ebert would think of TIFF opening night: ‘He would have loved it’

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Before he passed away earlier this year at the age of 70, legendary film critic Roger Ebert was one of the Toronto International Film Festival’s biggest fans. He attended the festvial every year, going to dozens of film screenings, and (once Twitter was invented) tweeting his thoughts about Toronto to his legions of fans. Because of his long-standing support of the festival, Ebert was honoured at TIFF 2013’s Thursday night opening gala of “The Fifth Estate,” with his widow Chaz Ebert making an appearance.

Going into the festival, there was a lot of hype around “The Fifth Estate” serving as the opening film, due to the film’s controversial subject matter of Julian Assange and the founding of WikiLeaks. But as Chaz revealed on the red carpet, it was that exact quality her husband would have appreciated.

“My husband did not shy away from controversy, so he would have loved it,” she told reporters outside Roy Thompson Hall.

Indeed, it appears as most of the film’s stars were quite enjoying the vast difference in opinion “The Fifth Estate” inspires, telling reporters that the controversy proves how important the movie is today.

“It’s nice to be going through something very politically hot. I'm very pleased to be part of the film. It makes people think and hope. You realize we're doing something important and it's not just a movie, this is real life,” said actress Carice Van Houten (“Game of Thrones”). “It's such a complex subject. I don't think the film is pro- or anti-Julian Assange. The world's not black and white, man.”

Said co-star Daniel Brühl: “It’s not a movie about villains and heroes. It’s far too complex to tell it that way. I’m very happy with our version. It just focuses on the relationship of two guys becoming friends, and after all their success, they split because of their conflicts. It encourages the spectator to learn more about WikiLeaks.”

“Fifth Estate” star Benedict Cumberbatch, who portrays WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in the film, couldn’t help but express his delight that such a divisive film was opening the Toronto International Film Festival.

“[It’s] complex but amazing – the kind of challenge you crave as an actor,” Cumberbatch said. “It's a film is about people journalism and this is a people festival, so it seems to make sense.”

The 2013 Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 5 to 15.

Watch the trailer for “The Fifth Estate”:

More TIFF 2013 Features on Yahoo:

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