5 tips for making the most of your TIFF experience
TIFF showcases hundreds of films from all over the world in ten jam packed days. Trying to plan your festival can be overwhelming at times. Narrowing down a list of hundreds to a few top choices, choosing which screening to see and how many can reasonably fit into a day can be a formidable task for a newcomer, so here are a few helpful tips I've learned along the way that will hopefully make you feel like a festival pro in no time.
CHOOSE YOUR FILMS WISELY
Although it may be tempting to buy tickets for a lot of the big Hollywood films, many of them have wide release dates which are just around the corner. Prisoners opens in Toronto on September 20th, Rush and Don Jon have dates set for the following week and Oscar buzz films like Gravity and 12 Years a Slave are scheduled to open Oct 4th and 18th, respectively .
My strategy would be to save those blockbuster films for later when they cost only $12 (compared to $24- $45 at festival prices) and take the opportunity to discover something different. I would suggest choosing from programs like Contemporary World Cinema or Vanguard, which showcase some amazing films that may not have a wide release in their future.
SCREENINGS WITH Q&As
Many screenings will offer a chance to listen to the filmmakers and stars involved discuss their work and answer your questions. When trying to decide whether to go for a 1st screening or one of the later ones, keep in mind that international filmmakers and talent often leave after their first screening, so I would push those to the top of the list. Local filmmakers, on the other hand, tend to show up to 2nd or 3rd screenings of their films. Strategizing this way can help you get more Q&A bang for your buck.
Rushing a film (waiting in line for a sold out screening day of for possible last minute tickets) doesn't have to be as daunting as it sounds. If a film is sold out, I would check out where it's playing. Princess of Wales, Bloor, Ryerson and Elgin have the best odds when it comes to successfully rushing a film simply because they are huge venues.
If it's a choice between a film at Isabel Bader or Lightbox cinema 1, the latter is the better choice. You would be surprised by how many people don't show up for a screening. My advice is to check out capacities of theatres and if you have the time to wait in line, you can make it work. I recommend a minimum of 1 hour to wait in a rush line, maybe less if it's an earlier daytime screening. More popular films will require at least 2.
The most obvious choice for those who want to catch a glimpse of the likes of George Clooney or Michael Fassbender is to hang out all day at the barriers at Roy Thomson Hall. But there are lots of ways to have a celeb sighting while participating in the festival. If a film is premiering at Ryerson, I would get there early to be near the front of the ticket holders line or Rush line. The star filled SUVs pull up right in front of those two line ups.
Hanging around that same area right after a film can sometimes result in a chance meeting with a star, too. The atrium at the Lightbox has been known for surprise sightings without much effort as many stars walk through the main entrance while on their way to their screening.
EATING ON THE GO
When attempting an all-day movie marathon, it's often difficult to fit in any sustenance between screenings. The commuting time between venues can be slim, so I recommend scoping out any quick food options. If you're heading to the Bloor, Big Fat Burrito or Ghazale will likely to the trick.
Salad King or Lou Dawg's near Ryerson is a good choice for fast food alternatives. The Grange across from Jackman Hall and O&B Canteen at the Lightbox have good "to-go" options, too. With a day full of film screenings to get through, the key is to plan ahead, get something portable and eat while waiting in line for the next one.
Writing by Christine Brooks. Photo by WVS in the blogTO Flickr pool.