Canada's economic capital also hosts the country's largest and most important film festival

Clooney, Cuaron, and Toronto should inspire Vancouver Film Festival

Gravity, Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years a Slave, and The Fifth Estate all premiere at Toronto International Film Festival, the 2013 edition.

Toronto’s success is painful. As a Vancouverite, it leaves you crushed and jealous. Still, the meteoric rise in the Toronto International Film Festival’s popularity shouldn’t just depress you – it should inspire you.

On Sunday, George Clooney’s new film, Gravity, debuted at TIFF, at one of those fantastically lit buildings in Canada’s biggest smoke on some boulevard you normally see in front of some Much Music awards show.

The film co-stars Sandra Bullock and was directed by Alfonso Cuaron. It’s big time, as were 127 Hours and Black Swan in 2010. Brad Pitt’s there right now. Ryan Gosling was there last year, as was Tom Hanks (and Tom Hanks’s attitude).

Toronto is big time, and it’s only getting bigger.

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TIFF is now the It Girl at the prom – the vital Hollywood hot spot that’s still the alternative to behemoth Cannes and still more metropolis than indie Sundance.

Also debuting at Toronto this year, among others: Dallas Buyers Club, starring the suddenly evolving skills of Matthew McConaughey, The Fifth Estate, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange, and Enemy, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Vancouver’s International Film Festival – upcoming and arriving fast – won’t get this kind of star treatment. As far as Canadian venues go, it’s well-suited to serve film crews in need of mountains and creepy woodlands, but it’s not Toronto. It’s never been Toronto, as much as we’d like it to be (or think it is).

Still, VIFF is growing, and it should view Toronto’s heroic experiment as no less than a trailblazer.

This year, Vancouver welcomes Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan to its Film and TV forum, only a couple days before his brilliant show’s no-doubt brilliant finale. Cory Monteith’s (basically) last film will show in VanCity, as well.

On top of that, director Alexander Payne’s new film, Nebraska, will make its Canadian debut in Vancouver, and stars Will Forte and veteran Bruce Dern, who won Best Actor at this summer’s Cannes festival.

Did you hear that? Canadian debut. So, we stole one from Toronto.

We have to compete with them, but that doesn’t mean we can’t impersonate them… just a little bit.

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Trailer for Gravity, starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock

Trailer for The Fifth Estate, starring Benedict Cumberbatch