The TIFF Experience

Photo: Michael Caine leaving SoHo House at Lower Bay Station during TIFF 2009

Fall in Toronto is preceded by a pretty important event. I’m not talking about Labour Day, the holiday synonymous with retiring whites and shifting into creams. The Toronto International Film Festival may as well be the biggest event on Toronto’s social calendar.

Each Torontonian has a different experience with TIFF, whether they work in the hospitality industry, media, film, or just happen to work next door to Roy Thomson Hall. For the latter, TIFF may appear as a nuisance. Not everyone is interested in gawking at celebrities, or the lack of restaurant availabilities as most places are reserved for private events. They just refer to TIFF as the week that Toronto is overrun with black-out Escalades and Suburbans.

Photo: Crowd outside of Elgin Theatre for screening of Fernando Meirelles’ Blindness during TIFF 2008

Prior to moving back to Toronto from living abroad, I had viewed TIFF as a doe-eyed youth. Celebrities. Parties. Galas. Fabulousness. TIFF has something for everyone, and as someone who learned how to read from the Toronto Star’s entertainment section, TIFF was a longtime dream. When I moved back to Toronto, the first thing I did was purchase the lowest end set of tickets ($200 for 10 tickets). I didn’t know much about the film festival, but I knew that I wanted to go to screenings and wander Yorkville in hopes of meeting someone famous (A-list, B-list, C-list….I didn’t care.)

Photo: Line at TIFF 2007 for Jason Reitman’s Juno

Be forewarned, TIFF is not for the impatient. You will wait around, a lot. After attending the festival for the last three years, I learned how to maximize the wait. Nobody wants to wait two hours in the sweltering heat in line for a movie, which quite possibly may come out a week later. This year’s The Town gets the ‘gala treatment’ on day three [September 11th], and arrives in theatres on September 17th. Even though this occurs, people are still willing on waiting outside for two hours and  paying $40 to sit in the same room as Ben Affleck.

I’m quite sad to say that this was the first year that the pre-order date flew past me, and I did not order a ticket package. Even though I do not have 10 passes to allocate, I have already selected a few films which I must see. Perhaps a friend will have an extra ticket, or VISA will show me some love. See you on September 8th!

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