Abolitionist tale closes Toronto film festival

The 31st Toronto International Film Festival draws to a close Saturday with Michael Apted's Amazing Grace, a historical drama about the fight to abolish the slave trade in Britain.

The 31st Toronto International Film Festival draws to a close Saturday with Michael Apted's Amazing Grace, a historical drama about the fight to abolish the slave trade in Britain.

StarringWelsh actor Ioan Gruffudd, a rising Hollywood star,as British parliamentarian William Wiberforce,the film will have its world premiere in Toronto, where it will also be the closing night gala.

In addition to Gruffudd, the star ofFantastic Four and TV'sHoratio Hornblower, the film's cast includes Albert Finney, Michael Gambon, Rufus Sewell and world music legend Youssou N'Dour in his feature film debut.

The movie follows Wilberforce during his rise as a young politician and through the late 18th and early 19th centuries as he forms a coalition of allies in his ongoing campaign to end the British Empire's reliance on the slave trade.

The anticipated period drama found a North American distributor in late August, just days before the start of the Toronto festival.

Amazing Grace is set for theatrical release in February 2007 — approximately 200 years after the British Parliament's vote to abolish the slave trade.

The Toronto festival, which began Sept. 7, featured more than 350 films and hosted a galaxy of movie stars, industry professionals and film fans from around the globe.

Aside from hosting the festival's final slate of film screenings on Saturday, organizers will also present the audience favourite award and other honours at a luncheon ceremony in Toronto.