If you shy away from the Toronto International Film Festival because of the hype, buzz, red carpets, star wattage or any of that shit, I feel you. Or, the lines. The lines! Sometimes it seems TIFF isn’t really about films, it’s about lining up.
There is a lot more going on behind the flashbulbs though. Midnight Madness with its rowdy crowds. The dedicated Torontonians of every possible ethnicity who come out en masse to see the films from their country of origin. The film tourists who fly in from all over the US to spend a week in our city and see tons of films. It’s a good time, and I’ve had the week off from work, taking in a ton of stuff, so I feel I should get around to writing something up.
Here’s how I do TIFF. I get the daytime package, which lets you see anything that airs before 5:01pm for about half price. I use the amazing TIFFR to go through the catalogue and make my shortlist. I pick stuff that I don’t think is going to get a theatrical release any time soon. I do it solo style. I show up 15 minutes before the start of the films, which is after all the ticket holders have been seated but before the rush line has been let in. If you’re solo style, you’ll find a seat in between someone somewhere. You may have to sit near people, but hey, it’s TIFF – that will happen anyway.
(A note about the daytime package: last year it was nerfed so that you don’t get an advance ticket selection window, you pick after single tickets have gone on sale. When I realized this, I had already bought the package and I thought that would wreck everything – but I still got 19 of my 20 films. Keep in mind I chose a 9am screening of a film that retold the ravages of Pol Pot’s Cambodian regime using dioramas of clay figurines. If you’re going for more mainstream fare than I did, you may want the Flex Pack or something else.)
This year I went a little more obscure n’ arty than I normally would. My favourite festival sub-brands are Midnight Madness and Vanguard, which are the genre-iest – but the last times I did TIFF, I found a lot of the films reasonably accessible in the months that followed, whether on Blu-Ray or whatevs. This year, I confess that current events made me a lot more interested in the films of the Middle East than I normally would be. Also, the doc lineup seemed pretty strong.
I’m almost done now – two days left – and the fest started out weak but gained strength. The last two days were full of kickass. I think I’m going to write up individual films where I was really into them, and then do a list of stuff I don’t have too much to say about. Or maybe I’ll skip that part.