toronto film festival

The 10 craziest things that have ever happened at TIFF

A film festival like TIFF doesn't last 40 years without a few memorable, crazy, or unconventional moments popping up along the way. There are bound to be celebrities misbehaving, screenings gone awry, or a controversy here and there.

Here are ten of the craziest, most memorable things that have happened at TIFF over the years.

1. When The Princess Bride premiered at the festival in 1987, most of the cast attended, including Andre the Giant. Because of his formidable size - he weighed 520 pounds and was 7'4" tall - a special seat had to be constructed just so the wrestler-actor could enjoy the movie.

2. Buzz for Michael Moore's Roger & Me was so strong throughout the 1989 festival that the final screening was oversold and had people sitting in the aisle. The theatre was declared a hazard by a Fire Marshall who demanded that 100 people leave before the movie could be started.

3. When The Fisher King premiered at TIFF in 1991, nobody could find director Terry Gilliam (12 Monkeys, Brazil). He was eventually found enjoying a Blue Jays game at the Sky Dome.

4. In 1995, Robert Downey Jr. attended the festival for Norman Jewison's Only You. While at the Sutton Place Hotel, he infamously lost his temper and began punching walls and crawling around on the floor. It's worth noting these were the years that he was struggling with substance abuse.

5. At a press conference for David Cronenberg's A History of Violence, actor Ed Harris tried to make an indiscernible point about violence by repeatedly slamming his fists on a table, picking up a glass and smashing it against a wall, then saying, "That's what the movie is about." Nobody understood his point.

6. In 2006, Sean Penn decided the press conference for All the King's Men was a good time to have a smoke. Except he didn't know (or maybe care) that it was illegal to smoke indoors in Canada. The hotel was fined $605 for Penn's indulgence.

7. The debut of Borat in 2006 certainly was a TIFF experience to remember. Not only did Sacha Baron Cohen show up in character as Borat on top of a cart being pulled by farm women, but a short while into the movie, the projector broke.

To help keep audiences entertained while the problem got fixed, Michael Moore and Cohen (still in character) hopped on stage at different times for impromptu Q&As. The screening was eventually cancelled because the technical issues couldn't be resolved.

8. In 2007, Colin Farrell came across a homeless man whom he then took on a shopping spree. He not only bought him a new wardrobe, he also gave the man money for first and last month's rent.

9. In 2008, Roger Ebert--mute due to the surgery that removed his jaw--couldn't see subtitles for Slumdog Millionaire because the man - who turned out to be New York Post film critic, Lou Lumenick - in front of him was leaning too far in the aisle. Unable to verbally express his frustration, Ebert tapped Lumenick on the shoulder. Lumenick yelled "Don't touch me."

Ebert tried again, same response. On the third try, Lumenick hit Ebert on the knee with a binder. There was a lot of uproar against the Post film critic, but Ebert, gracious as always, downplayed the resulting hullabaloo as completely overblown.

10. One of the biggest controversies TIFF faced happened in 2009 when the festival decided to highlight Tel Aviv as part of its City to City programme. That prompted celebrities like Jane Fonda and Viggo Mortensen to condemn the festival as being anti-Palestine. That in turn prompted celebrities like Natalie Portman and Lisa Kudrow to condemn the condemners.

What unique moments do you remember most from TIFF's four decade run? Let us know in the comments.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @alxhuls for all the latest on TIFF 15, including snap reviews.

Sources: Toronto Life, Hello!. Still of Andre the Giant courtesy TIFF.


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