Paul Gross' WWI epic Passchendaele will open the 33rd Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday, September 4.

Written, directed and produced by Gross, who also takes the lead role, the film is coproduced by Niv Fichman, Frank Siracusa and Francis Damberge. The film also features Caroline Dhavernas, Gil Bellows and Joe Dinicol.

Set during the height of WWI, the film focuses on a wounded Canadian sergeant (Gross) who returns to the front lines from Canada when his younger brother (Dinicol) enlists. The denouement comes at the third battle of Ypres, known as Passchendaele - a battle that epitomized the futility and carnage of the so-called Great War.

Incoming TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey said in a statement, 'By paying tribute to our nation's heroes - including his own grandfather, an Alberta veteran of Passchendaele - Gross uses the visceral charge of movies to contribute a foundation chapter to our national history. While never ignoring the horrifying truths of this or any war, Passchendaele stands as truly epic storytelling from western Canada.'

Co-produced by Rhombus Media, Whizbang Films, Damberger Film and Cattle Company, the film is distributed in Canada by Alliance Films.

TIFF runs September 4 to 13, 2008.