Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the 42nd Annual Toronto International Film Festival But Were Afraid to Ask (or didn’t know to ask)

Director Garth Davis with the Cast & Crew of "Lion" at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival

The Toronto International Film Festival (aka TIFF) was originally conceived in the 1970s as a festival for the public. While it has grown in size and has corporate sponsors and industry folk at screenings, it prides itself as having its grand prize not be chosen by a jury but by the people. The Grolsch People’s Choice Award has gone to recent Oscar contenders including Slumdog Millionaire, The Kings Speech, and La La Land.  Although NYC is home to the New York Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival, they don’t have the true scope of TIFF which screens over 300 films from around the world.

Since 2012, I have been attending TIFF annually.  Some friends of mine had been going to the festival as attendees (they are not in the industry) every September for some time now, so I thought why not?  Toronto is a 90 minute flight (friendly tip: if you can easily get to Newark Airport, take Porter Airlines to the Billy Bishop Airport, forget Pearson.  It's also fun to have spotted Ralph Fiennes, Cynthia Nixon, Susan Sarandon and director Rebecca Miller on my Porter flights) and the favorable exchange rate makes the trip to Canada more affordable.  There are also plenty of condos in downtown Toronto that can be rented on Airbnb.

Besides the easy access (as long as you have a valid passport) and the exchange rate, Toronto is a beautiful city to visit in September.  Although the weather can be unpredictable, generally it’s typical early fall weather.  The city itself has a similar energetic vibe as NYC, and its ethnic diversity means lots of great restaurants.  The TTC subway offers an easy way around town to the festival venues. As a New Yorker who doesn’t drive, not needing a car to get around is a plus in any city. If you need a car, Uber operates in Toronto and there are plenty of taxi cabs around.  

In order to attend the festival, it makes sense to join TIFF as a member to get advanced ticket sales.  There are many membership tiers depending on budget, but part of the donation is tax deductible when you join American Friends of TIFF. Ticket sales are generally a two-step process with ticket packages on sale to members in late May but once purchased, packages aren’t redeemed until late August, after the official schedule is released.

One of the more frustrating aspects of planning for the festival is making up one’s schedule.  With 10 days of programming and 100s of films, the process can be daunting. (I usually only attend the first few days, which makes it more intense). There are a few unofficial sites (such as TIFFR) that have popped up to aid in this process, since the official site is not very user friendly.  When scheduling films, things like travel time between venues, fitting in time for meals and sleep must be considered! 

In the past few years, I’ve seen many good films (The Theory of Everything, Arrival, Lion, Only Lovers Left Alive), excellent documentaries (Citizen Jane, Miss Sharon Jones) and seen plenty of A list talent do Q&A’s following their films (Tom Hiddleston, Elisabeth Moss, Jason Bateman, Emma Watson, Nicole Kidman, Ewan MacGregor, and Eddie Redmayne among others). 

The initial slate of films is usually announced in July, so watch this space for more updates and my wish list of films.  This year’s festival runs from September 7-17, 2017.

#FILM #LALALAND #LION  #socialMedia #filmFestival   #Toronto  #TIFF #Canada #TIFFR

No comments:

Post a Comment