Istvan Szabo's period comedy Being Julia, starring Annette Bening andJeremy Irons, will open the 29th Toronto International Film Festivalon Sept. 9.

The selection was widely anticipated givenproducer Robert Lantos' long-time association with Toronto; this will be theninth Lantos-produced picture to open the event. Based on the novel Theatre by W. Somerset Maugham, thescreenplay was written by Ronald Harwood, Academy Award-winning screenwriter ofThe Pianist, who also penned theLantos-produced Michael Caine-starring TheStatement.

Leads Bening and Irons -- who has alsoenjoyed several visits to Toronto, most notably the 1990 premiere of Reversal Of Fortune, for which he wonthe Best Actor Oscar - are supported by a Canadianand British cast including Bruce Greenwood, Michael Gambon, Miriam Margolyes,Juliet Stevenson, Shaun Evans, Lucy Punch, Maury Chaykin, Sheila McCarthy, RitaTushingham, and Rosemary Harris.

The film is aSerendipity Point Films production in association with First Choice Films, AstralMedia, Telefilm Canada, and Corus Entertainment. It is distributed in Canada byTHINKfilm, and by Sony Pictures Classics in the USA. Summit Entertainment isselling international.

The festival separatelyannounced that it will be expanding its range of venues to include the FamousPlayers Paramount multiplex and the Art Gallery of Ontario's Jackman Hall,increasing the number of festival-dedicated screens to 21. Also returning tothe fold is the 1,200-seat Ryerson Theatre, making it the festival's third-largestvenue after Roy Thomson Hall and the Elgin Theatre.