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'SYRIAN BRIDE' HIGHLIGHTS JEWISH FESTIVAL

As Torontonians and film buffs alike can tell you, there is more to the local film festival circuit than the annual cavalcade of Hollywood premieres which make their mark in mid-May. The Toronto Jewish Film Festival has its eyes set on the spring also, bringing more than 100 films to competition in this year's 13th annual event.

This year's festival, held Saturday through May 15, is celebrating its bar/bat mitzvah (as organizers have dubbed it). More than 100 films from 19 countries are represented in three categories -- feature film, documentary and short film -- with a focus on the contemporary and historical culture of international Jewry. Just as the festival is one in a slew of film series held in Toronto every summer, the TJFF is one of dozens Jewish festivals held globally.

Highlights in this year's competition include the opening night film, "The Syrian Bride," by Israeli director Eran Riklis; a special screening of Marc Levin's "Protocols of Zion," a provocative film recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival; and a number of Israel feature films, the products of what festival organizers are calling a banner year for the Israeli film industry.

Pre-sale tickets are available until Friday by phone at (416) 324-9121, by e-mail at boxoffice@tjff.ca, or in person at the TJFF box office at 17 Madison Ave. (one block east of Spadina, just north of Bloor).

Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are also available during the festival at the Bloor Cinema, 506 Bloor St. West (Bloor and Bathurst) and the Al Green Theatre of the Midles Nadal Jewish Community Center, 750 Spadina (Bloor and Spadina).

For information, call (416) 324-9121 or visit www.tjff.com

Opening doors

Love the idea of visiting Toronto but are a tad intimidated by itsvast metropolitan cityscape? Is your knowledge of the Manhattan of the North limited to the C.N. Tower and the Skydome? Well there's plenty more where the Blue Jays came from.

For one weekend a year -- May 28 and 29 this year -- the city of Toronto Culture Division opens more than 100 historical, architectural, spiritual and cultural doors in its annual "Doors Open Toronto." Banks, museums, theaters, transportation hubs, houses of worship, even mansions are open to the public, free of admission.

For more information and building guides visit www.doorsopen.org

Wine? Wine not!

In effort to prove the Niagara region's many vineyards and wineries aren't just for weekend day trips, the Sante: Bloor-Yorkville Wine Festival will make its mark on the city May 11-15. The five-day festival (with a special preview planned for Saturday) brings the world's finest winemakers and chefs to the popular Yorkville district for a full schedule of tastings, seminars and shopping.

Opening night offers the first of three Sip, Savour & Dine events, with various Bloor-Yorkville and downtown restaurants participating. On May 13, from noon to 1:30 p.m., nine internationally renowned winemakers present their vintages at three downtown LCBO locations: Manulife at Bay and Bloor Streets; Summerhill at Yonge Street and Scrivener Square; and Bayview at Bayview at Sheppard Avenues.

Seminars in wine tasting and the art of pairing wine and food are also on the schedule, as well as discussions on the relationship between wine and music. The festival concludes on May 15 with the Grand Finale Sunday Lunch, held at noon in the Four Seasons Hotel. Tickets cost $60 and include wines from 21 international wineries.

Tickets for all Sante festival events are available at www.ticketmaster.ca. For more information, visit www.santewinefestival.net.

More under the big top

After a phenomenal sold-out run of "Varekai" in the summer of 2002, and an encore visit of "Alegria" last summer, the Cirque du Soleil troupe is back with a new show, "Corteo."

The world premiere of the Italian-influenced circus presentation -- known the world over for its mind-bending blend of musical theater, modern dance and thrilling world music -- is currently wowing audiences in Montreal through June 19.

The Toronto run, scheduled for Aug. 4 through Sept. 11, was recently announced in an Internet-broadcast preview that unveiled the official name and concept of the touring show. (Images and video from the show, as well as from Cirque's nine other touring and permanent shows, are available at www.cirqudusoleil.com.)

Tickets for "Corteo" are available on the Cirque du Soleil Web site and at www.admission.com.