Is the Toronto Indie Film Festival the next Slamdance?
We have Hot Docs for docs, After Dark for genre flicks, World Wide Shorts for...world wide shorts, and then there's the big mamma, TIFF. But what about a the festival for the Indie scene? Nowadays a movie made with a $5 million budget and a known Hollywood cast is considered an indie film. If done right, these so called "Indie" films play at TIFF and Sundance, maybe even Venice.
I came to the Toronto Underground Cinema to check out the Toronto Indie Film Festival with low expectations because of the word "Indie". I was expecting little attendance and amateur crap made films. I was wrong.
I meet Steve Veale, the chief coordinator for the festival and discover that, in its third year, this is the perfect yin to TIFF's yang. When Sundance first started out, it was a festival catering to real indie budget movies. But since then, it has grown into a venue more for bigger budgeted Hollywood pictures. Thus, Slamdance was created to continue what Sundance originally started.
In true indie spirit, The Toronto Indie Film Festival has a mandate that no feature film with a budget over $200,000 will be accepted. The Toronto Indie Film Festival has included a wide selection of music videos, shorts, documentaries and features. Talking to Veale I realize that the Toronto Indie Film Festival could be to TIFF what Slamdance is to Sundance. "We're here to give young filmmakers a voice, a forum otherwise people wouldn't see."
And I bring up the whole scheduling issue. Why during TIFF? Isn't that counter-productive? "Well, this is what I thought as well, but the filmmakers love it at this time. Producers from New York, people from Scottsdale Arizona, they all want to be here during TIFF because every distributor is here this week."
Veale then tells me the astonishing news. Already, Lionsgate just bought one of the festival's feature films, Immigration Tango! Yes. They are watching. In the theatre among the sixty other guests, filmmakers and general attendees, and talking to Steve, I realize the incredible potential this festival has, growing into a serious venue for the both the unheard and potential buyers. If nurtured right, more distributors will come here looking for the next indie miracle.
Filmmakers, be excited. Your low budget dv movie could be playing here next year and be seen by industry people.
The Festival finishes its 11 day run at the Toronto Underground Cinema at 186 Spadina Ave. September 18th.
Writing by Eastern Yoo. Top photo from Trippin' The Movie, another film that screened as part of the Toronto Indie Film Festival.