Sunday, September 16, 2007

2007 Festival Wrap-up

Well, another festival done for the year. I was down a bit from last year; I saw 26 films or discussions, totalling 43 hours, 26 minutes.

Things that worked well:

  • The festival trailers were all short and to the point again this year, which was much appreciated, although I can't that Feist tune out of my head that they used for the Bell Lightbox spot (not that that is a bad thing - I'm actually going to miss it the next time I see a movie). The Cadillac People's Choice Awards were funny, although there probably weren't enough of them to not seem repetitious by the end of the 10 days (can anyone say 'Death Shark', 'dance fight', or 'two men, one horse'?).
  • The volunteers did a great job yet again, despite at least one industry or press wag not appreciating their efforts: Believe me, the regular film-going public certainly appreciates the work the volunteers put in every year.
  • The VISA Screening Room lounge was nice again this year, especially with the addition of the freshly-made Lindt chocolates.
  • I thought the online box office worked slightly better than last year, in that I didn't get any cryptic error messages or timeouts (at least most of the time).

Things that could be improved:

  • There were times, especially at the start of the festival, when the main festival website and the box office site were extremely slow to respond.
  • There seemed to be a major shipping problem with the out-of-town packages, more so than normal. If they don't already, the festival should get someone from FedEx to help them ensure their shipping goes smoothly, because it sounds like part of the problem this year may have been bad data entry.
  • VISA Screening Room tickets went on sale early this year with the Gala tickets. According to the festival, there are supposed to be separate sets of seats for these individual sales vs. those for the advanced ticketing. Nevertheless, I wonder if there was still an impact on the amount of tickets available for pass and ticket book holders compared to previous years.
  • While the early VISA Screening Room ticket sales have opened up those films to more people, a lot of the die hard festival goers seem to view this more as a money grab for the festival by letting them charge higher rates for the tickets. I did find out that if you bought a VISA Screening Room pass (but not for individual tickets), you actually got preferred seating in the balcony (except for one night at least, when Bell took up a lot of the seats in the middle of the balcony for their people and clients).
  • A lot of regulars expressed disappointment at the elimination of the 30-film ticket book.
  • The festival moved some of the Wavelengths programs to the Varsity 7, which only has 138 seats. More than a few people reported not being able to get tickets this year, which was a big disappointment to them.
  • Those industry people and others who insist on using their Blackberries during a film. There's one volunteer who is quite aggressive about getting people to turn off their phones and PDAs when she catches them being using during a film; maybe they should do that more.

Other notes:

  • Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Funny at first, overdone in the middle, and funny again by the end of the festival. If you don't know what I'm talking about, everyone was making noises like a pirate by the end of the week, every time the warning about not taping the screen came up or the festival personnel mentioned night-vision goggles in the intro. Director Garth Jennings (Son of Rambow) thought that was extremely funny.
  • Interestingly, a lot of people mentioned they specifically avoided seeing The Stone Angel because they had to study it in English class for school. I'd have to add myself to that crowd.

Overall, I had a pretty smooth festival experience this year. Of the 26 films or discussions I attended this year, below are my favourites. Note these are only from the things I actually saw; there were a lot of other really good films at the festival this year judging by some of the conversations I had in line with others:

  • Favourite film: Jason Reitman's Juno. The writing was great, funny, and witty, and the cast was uniformly good, especially Ellen Page who wowed in a number of festival films this year.
  • Funniest film: Tie between Juno and Garth Jenning's Son of Rambow, with Rolf de Heer's Dr. Plonk not far behind. My friend recommends Craig Gillespie's Lars and the Real Girl.
  • Best dramatic film: probably a toss-up between Julian Schnabel's Le Scaphandre et le papillon and Ken Loach's It's a Free World.
  • Best documentary: Werner Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World. My friend recommends Amir Bar-Lev's My Kid Could Paint That.
  • Best Canadian film: Martin Gero's Young People Fucking.
  • Best action film: Wilson Yip's Flash Point.
  • "WTF?!" Award: Christian Frosch's Silent Resident, although the last half of Takeshi Kitano's Glory to the Filmmaker! isn't far behind (although I really enjoyed the film).
  • Green Award for the film that saved the most trees by having the least amount of dialogue: Dans la ville de Sylvia (José Luis Guerín), with honourable mention to Dr. Plonk (Rolf de Heer) and Le Voyage du ballon rouge (Hou Hsiao-hsien).
  • Best film involving an older man seducing a much younger woman: Andrew Wagner's Starting Out in the Evening.
  • Screening with the most celebrity wattage: probably a slight nod to Juno (Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, Allison Janney, J.K. Simmons, and bonus points for Ben Affleck in the audience) over Melisa Wallack and Bernie Goldmann's Bill (Aaron Eckhart, Timothy Olyphant, Kristen Wiig, Elizabeth Banks, and most of all Jessica Alba).
  • Films that I want to see when they are released: Shake Hands with the Devil, Eastern Promises, Atonement, and Lars and the Real Girl.

I have a lot more reviews and Q&A notes to post up in the next few days before I close off this year's festival coverage, including: Dr. Plonk, Reclaim Your Brain, Jar City, A Gentle Breeze in the Village, Flash Point, Chacun son cinema, Chrysalis, La Fille coupee en deux, Son of Rambow, and Sukiyaki Western Django. Hopefully people found the blog useful this year, and I hope to be back again next year with more ticketing tips, reviews, and Q&A's. Thanks for reading!


Excellent coverage of the festival and your experience going! I love how you included summaries of the Q&A's - I believe we were at a few of the same screenings. I look forward to reading again next year!

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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