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Film fest puts out call for cash to build home

From Friday's Globe and Mail

As the red carpets were rolled up and the stars made their way home yesterday, the Toronto International Film Festival served notice to the philanthropic community that it still needs money for its new building, announcing a gift likely to exceed $22-million from the Reitman family and developer Daniels Corp.

The gift is part of the $137-million in capital and endowment costs raised so far for Bell Lightbox, the festival's planned new headquarters in the first five floors of a condo tower to be built at King and John Streets in the entertainment district, with a target for completion of late 2009. In total, TIFF is looking to raise $196-million for its new home, including $129-million in capital costs plus about $70-million in transitional and ongoing costs.

The gift announced yesterday from Daniels and the Reitmans - specifically filmmaker Ivan Reitman and his sisters Agi Mandel and Susan Michaels - wasn't cash.

Instead, they donated the valuable downtown property and waived their management fees.

Insiders familiar with the boardroom decision-making prior to the announcement indicated that the gift was long expected.

As far back as 2003, when the headquarters was originally announced, the festival and developers talked about a contribution from the Reitmans and Daniels to the building's costs. The figure bandied about then was $18.55-million.

However, TIFF co-director and chief executive officer Piers Handling said yesterday that this was the first official announcement of the gift and the first time it was given a value.

He also explained that the key target these days is achieving the $129-million in capital funding needed to build the festival's new home, currently a block-wide hole in the ground.

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