The 2008 Toronto International Film Festival will open with the gala world premiere of Paul Gross's Passchendaele on Sept 4.

Canadian film-maker Gross wrote, directed and produced and also stars. The prolific actor previously directed 2002's Men With Brooms.

Niv Fichman (Blindness), Frank Siracusa and Francis Damberger co-produced. Passchendaele is a Rhombus Media, Whizbang Films and Damberger Film and Cattle Company production. Alliance Films will distribute in Canada.

The cast also features Caroline Dhavernas, Gil Bellows and Joe Dinicol. Passchendaele is about a wounded Canadian WWI soldier who returns to the front-line for the third battle of Ypres to protect his lover's younger brother.

'It is rare that Canadians get to experience their own histories via the moving image, particularly on the big screen,' says Piers Handling, director and CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival Group. 'We are honoured to open TIFF 2008 with a work as personal and passionate, as significant to both Canadian film and Canadian history as Passchendaele.'

Cameron Bailey, co-director of the Toronto International Film Festival, added: '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.'

TIFF, now in its 33rd year, runs Sept 4-13. Astral Media sponsors the Opening Night Gala.