TIFF 2013 programmers to wear ‘Free John Greyson and Tarek Loubani’ buttons

On the first day of the Toronto International Film Festival, Canada has its eye on one filmmaker above all others: John Greyson.

The "Lillies" director and York professor has been detained without reason, along with Ontario physician Tarek Loubani, by Egyptian authorities since Aug. 16. Greyson and Loubani were on their way to Gaza when they were detained in Cairo. A friend of the duo told the Canadian Press this weekend that their lawyers have met with a prosecutor in Cairo and a member of the Canadian embassy, but that more information needs to be obtained before a decision is made whether to release them or not.

And TIFF programmers are intent on keeping Greyson and Loubani at the forefront of the festival's mind. They will literally be wearing the cause on their sleeves.

"We will see the #tiff13 programmers wearing Free John and Tarek buttons on stage starting tomorrow. Thanks so much guys! #FreeTarekandJohn," tweeted Toronto actress and filmmaker Sarah Polley on Thursday morning.

The "Stories We Tell" director also tweeted actor James Franco to sign a letter to support the duo's release. A petition has been created at Change.org to pressure the Canadian government to "demand their freedom." So far it has 107,031 supporters, a number of whom are famous names.

"Milk" director Gus Van Sant, who has known Greyson for more than three decades, released a letter this weekend stating, "I am concerned for his well being after his arrest. I hope that you will release him and allow him to continue his wonderful and helpful life." Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan, whose film "Devil's Knot" is set to premiere at the fest, has also pledged his support for Greyson and Loubani in a video message. "We want them back as soon as possible," he said.

The family of Greyson and Loubani are using TIFF to bring awareness to the cause and are set to hold a press conference during the fest on Tuesday, the day before the duo is set to have a meeting about their case in Egypt.

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