TORONTO -- The Toronto International Film Festival is in full swing with hundreds of movies set to unspool through Sept. 20. Here's a look at a Canadian project trying to break through at the 11-day movie marathon:

Film: "Closet Monster"

Synopsis: A sensitive teenager unsure of his sexuality is desperate to escape dysfunctional parents and harrowing memories of a gay bashing he witnessed as a child. His coping tools: a talking hamster (voiced by Isabella Rossellini) and a vivid imagination.

Director: Stephen Dunn

Hometown: St. John's, N.L.

Age: 26

Stars: Connor Jessup, Mary Walsh, Aaron Abrams and kid actor Jack Fulton

On incorporating vivid imagery: "This is something that's very important to me -- the presence of magic realism. The presence of internal struggles manifesting into a physical external form is my identity in how I personally end up dealing with trauma. And so it kind of is translated into my work. 'Closet Monster' is really a prime example of that."

On shooting in Newfoundland: "I definitely made a deliberate choice not to have any violins or whatever. I wanted to show the modern side of Newfoundland, what it's like to grow up as an urban teen in the city. It's something we haven't seen --it's not 'Republic of Doyle,' it's not 'The Grand Seduction.' We have so much more diversity than I think a lot of people would assume. I didn't want to make a tourism ad but I did want to show off the unique landscape and the unique culture without hitting people over the head with it."