tiff 2015

The best and worst things about TIFF 2015

TIFF is about more than just watching movies. It's also about all the other experiences - inside and out of auditoriums - you gather over the course of the festival. Much like any experience, some things will be good, and some will be bad.

Here are my impressions of this year's Toronto International Film Festival.

BEST

The Festival Goes Online
We're living in a Netflix world now, so it's encouraging to see TIFF offer streaming options for some of its short film programming via the Short Cuts Remix initiative. Yes, the ability to access feature films - not just shorts - would be nice, but Short Cuts Remix could prove to be an exciting step in that direction.

Extended Q&As
The appeal of Q&As is often undone by terrible audience questions. Which is why the extended sessions TIFF offered for select screenings, moderated by pros like Adam Nayman (Cinema Scope) and Amy Nicholson (L.A. Weekly), were a welcome reminder of the insightful possibilities of Q&As.

Sweet Jesus Soft Service Ice Cream
When you're spending many hours near the TIFF Bell Lightbox and Scotiabank theatres, nearby food becomes very important. Especially treats. Which is why Sweet Jesus opening was a sweet tooth Godsend. The amazing soft serve ice cream toppings were a delicious guilty pleasure that was impossible to resist.

The Princess Bride Live-Read
One of the hottest tickets at TIFF wasn't a movie, but the Jason Reitman organized live-read of The Princess Bride. Kudos to Reitman for going with the 40th Anniversary-appropriate film, given that Rob Reiner's classic fairy tale played an instrumental part in making the festival the colossus it is now.

The Continued Growth of Festival Street
It was great to see TIFF's Festival Street continue to grow in its second year. Especially great was how it inventively tied its musical performances to films appearing in the festival - whether it was Bruce Penninsula performing the score for the TIFF film Sleeping Giant, or the star of The Idol stepping on stage to perform as well.

WORST

The Cancellation of Amazing Grace and London Fields
It's not TIFF's fault legal issues hampered the possibility of showing the much anticipated Aretha Franklin doc, Amazing Grace, and the Martin Amis' adaptation, London Fields. Still, any movie - let alone two - being withdrawn from the festival is a major letdown.

The Primetime Programme
In theory, TIFF tapping into the current Golden Age of Television with a new program was a good idea. In practice, there's probably a good reason nobody wound up ever talking about it.

Scotiabank Theatre
Aside from ongoing frustrations with the shin-bruising reclining seats at Scotiabank Theatre, navigating in and out of it the labyrinthine maze of moving and standing bodies seemed somehow more chaotic than previous years.

What have been the best and worst parts of your TIFF experience this year? 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.

Photo by Jesse Milns.


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