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Sylvester Stallone’s extraordinary journey unveiled in Sly, the Closing Night Gala of TIFF 2023

The Netflix documentary captures the life and career of Sylvester Stallone, whose television and film credits span almost half a century


TIFF is delighted to announce Sly as the Closing Night Gala for the 48th edition of the Festival. A vivid exploration of an illustrious life woven through the silver screen, this remarkable documentary about actor, writer, director, and producer Sylvester Stallone will have its World Premiere on Saturday, September 16, at Roy Thomson Hall.

“Stallone’s story is one of perseverance, triumph, and his indelible mark left on the world of film, and we couldn’t be more honoured to share it with our audiences as our Closing Night film,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF CEO. “Celebrating the legacy of a true icon, Sly takes audiences on an intimate journey through the life of Stallone, a cultural touchstone whose impact on cinema spans nearly half a century. Sly offers an unexpected and heartfelt exploration of the man behind the action megastar.”

Directed by Thom Zimny (Springsteen on Broadway, Elvis Presley: The Searcher), Sly is an intimate and unexpected look at the early life of the action megastar as well as a reflection on his career that spans nearly 50 years.

Sly shows Stallone’s rough beginnings in New York City as a troubled kid who’d escape his angry household to watch movies all day and then come home to write scripts himself. Zimny leads Stallone through his rollercoaster career, which exploded when Rocky — a role he had to fight to play, despite having written the now iconic movie — catapulted him to a level of stardom for which he was entirely unprepared.

The documentary takes this storied filmography and juxtaposes it with Stallone’s personal journey, exploring how his inspirational underdog story informed both the indelible characters he has brought to life and the man he has become. There are highs and there are lows. There are regrets and there are triumphs. But Stallone has kept punching.

Lovingly deemed a legend of the action genre, Sylvester Stallone gained international acclaim with his portrayal of Rocky and Rambo, with both projects becoming highly successful franchises over multiple decades. Other film credits include Demolition Man, Cliffhanger, Cop Land, Escape Plan, and more recently The Expendables and Creed, which earned Stallone an Academy Award nomination in 2016. Stallone currently stars in the hit series Tulsa King, which has been renewed for a second season.

The film is produced by Sean Stuart, and executive produced by Braden Aftergood, Bill Zanker, Sam Delcanto, Jon Beyer, Tom Forman, Jenny Daly, and Stallone.

Sly will officially close the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival on September 16, 2023.

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The Toronto International Film Festival takes place September 7–17, 2023.

TIFF will respect SAG-AFTRA protocols regarding the participation of its members at the Festival. Please note, Sly is a documentary film not covered by the SAG-AFTRA TV/Theatrical Agreements.

About TIFF
TIFF is a not-for-profit cultural organization whose mission is to transform the way people see the world through film. An international leader in film culture, TIFF projects include the annual Toronto International Film Festival in September; TIFF Bell Lightbox, which features five cinemas, learning and entertainment facilities; and innovative national distribution program Film Circuit. The organization generates an annual economic impact of $200 million CAD. TIFF Bell Lightbox is generously supported by contributors including Founding Sponsor Bell, the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada, the City of Toronto, the Reitman family (Ivan Reitman, Agi Mandel and Susan Michaels), The Daniels Corporation and RBC. For more information, visit

TIFF is generously supported by Lead Sponsor Bell, Major Sponsors RBC, Visa, and BVLGARI®, and Major Supporters the Government of Ontario, Telefilm Canada, and the City of Toronto.

The Gala Programme is made possible through the generous sponsorship of Dyson. Meticulously tested. Relentlessly engineered. Discover the latest technology at Dyson Canada.

Artscape Sandbox is the Official home of the 2023 Press Office & The Media Inclusion Initiative.

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