TORONTO - Toronto's selection as the host of the 2011 International Indian Film Academy Awards is a real "coup" for Ontario and comes because of the reputation of the city's annual international film festival, Premier Dalton McGuinty said Wednesday.
McGuinty was in Mumbai for the announcement that Toronto will be the first North American city to host the awards, which are held in a different international city each year.
"Our standing as the host of the Toronto International Film Festival put us in really good stead," the premier said in a telephone interview.
"We have the know-how, we've got the experience and we've got the infrastructure. It's really quite an honour for us to score this coup."
The Indian Academy Awards will cap a four-day celebration of everything to do with Indian film, including a film festival and industry forum, to be held in Toronto June 16-19, 2011.
Bollywood fans are expected to come out in big numbers for the event, said McGuinty.
"It brings with it a viewing audience in excess of 350 million to say nothing of 60,000 tourists who are drawn to this, and the 500 or so stars and producers and the like," he said.
"I don't think it hurts us at all that when some of the Bollywood stars have been to Toronto in the past they have been mobbed by a huge number of fans, particularly from the South Asian community.
"So they feel very much at home there."
The first International India Film Academy Awards were held at the Millennium Dome in London, England in 2000, and McGuinty said Bollywood is quickly becoming as mainstream as Hollywood.
"Bollywood, with movies like 'Slum Dog Millionaire,' is making the transition beyond the South Asian community to a much broader audience, and I think that's one of the reasons they wanted to come to North America," he said.
"With so many film buffs living in Ontario, Indian film stars and executives will feel right at home."