Sunday, September 18, 2005

2005 Festival Wrap-Up

Well, another festival done for the year.

Things that were done well:

  • The e-mail confirmations for advanced ticketing selection.
  • The volunteers did their usual excellent job of putting up with all the festival-goers, press, and industry.
  • I was surprised by the number of films in the last two days of the festival that had their director present for a Q&A. Granted, some of them are still looking for distribution, but it's nice when people don't immediately jet off right away after the first showing.
  • The new seats in the Ryerson theatre were nice, even if they didn't give much legroom.
  • The digital projection system used in a number of theatres looked really good. I thought Souvenir of Canada in the ROM looked incredibly vivid.

Things that could be improved:

  • The online ordering system and the festival web site cannot handle the amount of traffic generated on opening day of ticket sales. They either need to beef up their infrastructure or contract it out.
  • The festival should put a volunteer at the *end* of the lines during ticketing and more often at screenings to tell people what line they are in or should be in.
  • When picking up the film schedule and order forms, festival personnel should ask people how many coupon books they have so they can be given the proper number of forms.
  • The festival trailer; I think I heard and read more negative comments and jokes about this year's trailer than in any of the last 5 or so years of going to the festival. When even festival staff are shouting out "pull my finger", when journalists are actually *giving* the finger, and when there's even a photo of Jackie Chan looking like he's making fun of it, you know the trailer has been less than successful. I can understand that the festival would want an artistic trailer to fit their stature, but when you have to watch the same thing 26 times, it gets on your nerves.
  • Other trailers: not sure why AGF wasn't back as a sponsor this year, but their humorous ads before the movies are sure missed. The Visa ad was funny, but too bad it was only shown at the Elgin.
  • If you know who Stephen J. Mavilla is, you've watched too many movies at the festival. His short was funny, but couldn't they have picked a few people and do multiple shorts for the cell phone/piracy warning?
  • My friend commented that he liked the trailer thanking the volunteers better in previous years, when they didn't explicitly ask you to show your appreciation; it was better when the applause was a spontaneous reaction from the audience.
  • More transparency in the People's Choice Award voting. I've been reading a lot of comments on this year's winner of the award. Not that the film isn't deserving, but a lot of people seem to be saying they hadn't heard anything about it at the festival this year, so they are wondering why it ended up getting more votes than anything else. No one is quite sure how they tally up the votes and take into account the number of screenings, the size of the audience, the number of ballots collected for the movie, etc.

Interesting buzz/surprises:

Of the 26 films I watched this year:

  • Film I liked the best: Toss up between Winter Passing, La Vie avec mon pere, and Runaway.
  • Best Japanese Film: Linda, Linda, Linda. Takeshis' was just too impenetrable for me.
  • Best Canadian Film: La vie avec mon pere. Saint-Martyrs-des-Damnes and Lucid were a close second.
  • Biggest Guilty Pleasure: Banlieue 13. The chase scenes alone are worth the price of admission.
  • Best Romantic Movie: Opa! I thought the relationships and the characters in that film were better than those in Mistress of Spices.
  • Best Documentary: We Feed the World. But Sketches of Frank Gehry and Souvenir of Canada were also very good.
  • "WTF?!" Award: Tideland. But Takeshis' was right up there, along with A travers la foret.
  • Best Looking Film: Tie between Beowulf and Saints-Martyrs-des-Damnes.
  • Funniest Film: Festival. Although the Mavericks session with Nick Price was pretty funny too.


Note: most of my 2005 reviews (and some of the 2004 ones) are also available on the Internet Movie Database ( in the entry for each movie. Hope to be back next year with more festival stuff!


Check out some photos from TIFF

I am thinking of putting a podcast together for next year's film festival, and was wondering if you would be interested in contributing? My hope to have a podcast which is a collaborative project spanning all the main festivals and offers a voyeuristic experience of the festivals, while also critquing the films upcoming.

if interested contact me on my site

My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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