Shia LaBeouf film Borg/McEnroe to open Toronto film fest

TIFF Festival organizers announced Borg/McEnroe, directed by Janus Metz, as the opening film of this year's edition.

Borg/McEnroe, starring Shia LaBeouf and Sverrir Gudnason, will have its world premiere as the opening film of the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. (Nordisk Film)

A film revisiting an epic professional sports rivalry — between brash American star John McEnroe and Swedish legend Bjorn Borg — will kick off this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

TIFF Festival organizers announced Borg/McEnroe, directed by Janus Metz, as the opening film of this year’s edition.

The film stars Shia LaBeouf, Sverrir Gudnason and Stellan Skarsgard.

“The story of this nail-biter matchup changed the sport of tennis forever, and the outstanding performances from LaBeouf and Gudnason will be a spectacular way for Festival-goers to kick things off,” TIFF director and CEO Piers Handling said in a statement.

Danish director Metz, whose 2010 Afghan war documentary  Armadillo earned the Critics Week Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, “brings that same tension to Borg/McEnroe,” added TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey.

“The on-court scenes have the dynamism of a street battle, and the drama peels back layers from what we know about both players. This was more than a simple conflict pitting an icy European against an impulsive American. Audiences are in for one hell of a showdown.”

Handling and Bailey unveiled a first batch of films slated for this year’s festival last week. Upcoming announcements will highlight Canadian selections and additional titles earmarked for the festival this fall.

The 2017 Toronto International Film Festival runs September 7-17.