Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Advanced Lottery Coming

If you bought any of the packages or passes that entitle you to participate in the advanced ticket lottery (see the official festival website, or this post - http://tifftalk.blogspot.com/2008/07/ticket-packages.html - for more information), then you should be getting ready for the process to begin next week.

  1. You should have received a letter in the mail that includes an Envelope Voucher, a Drop-off Voucher, a Pick-up Voucher, and if you bought one, a 2008 Programme Book Pick-up Voucher, if you placed an order before August 1, 2008. If you ordered after that date, you need to pick up your vouchers at the Manulife Centre box office from August 1 to 25. After August 25, you must pick up vouchers at the Toronto Life Square box office.
  2. Starting Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 9:00 AM, you turn in your Envelope Voucher to get the order book and envelope needed to make your selections. If you have a 2008 Programme Book Pick-up Voucher, then you turn that one in to get the thick, full-colour book with complete film descriptions. Remember to also pick up the official festival schedule, which lists the times and theatres for each film, as you will need this as well.
  3. Ensure you have a green and a yellow highlighter, your order book, and the official film schedule. Start picking which films you want to see, when you want to see them, and an alternate selection for each film in case your first choice is sold out when they get around to processing your order. Full tips will be posted after next Tuesday, but you can check out last year's guidelines here: http://tifftalk.blogspot.com/2007/08/how-heck-do-i-fill-out-order-form-2007.html
  4. Note that you can make notes in the order book to help the festival volunteers interpret your order. But don't get too complicated, as it will just confuse people and increase the chance of mistakes. My friend found out that if you put your phone number on your order, the festival may call you if they have trouble figuring out what you want; but be forewarned - they process all day and all night, so you could end up getting a call at 4 in the morning!
  5. Ensure you drop off your completed order book, with the Drop-off Voucher, before 1:00 PM on Friday, August 29. If you drop off after that time, you will miss the advanced draw, and your order will be processed after everyone else.
  6. After 1:00 PM on the 29th, the festival will start processing orders. This year, they will start with orders from festival donors (those who donated $250 or more to festival before August 8, 2008). After that, they will randomly draw to determine which box of the remainder of the orders will be processed first. Check out this post (http://tifftalk.blogspot.com/2007/08/advanced-ticketing.html) for a description of how this part of the process works.
  7. The festival processes all the orders over the weekend. If you provided your e-mail address on the order book, the festival will generally e-mail you to tell you which of your selections you got, and which ones you didn't.
  8. Starting Monday, September 1, 2008, at 10:00 AM, you can pick up your completed orders at the Toronto Life Square box office, with your Pick-up Voucher. If you were notified that you received all your picks, then don't bother showing up first thing on the 1st, as you will be stuck in a huge line for no reason. If you didn't get all your picks, then you should line up, as you will usually have the opportunity to select alternate films that day; but you'll have to first line up to get your order form and used tickets first, then line up again to make alternate selections.
  9. Sit back and wait for the festival to begin on the 4th!

Remember to go to the correct box office; check the festival site for exact info. If you go to the wrong location, they may not be able to help you, will not be able to take your order, or will not have your completed order on hand.

Now, if you didn't buy a package or pass that allows you to participate in the lottery, you can still see movies at the festival. Your options at this point are:

  • Buy premium tickets for films at Roy Thomson Hall or the Visa Screening Room starting August 23 (or August 20 if you donated more than a $1,000).
  • Buy regular tickets for all other theatres starting September 3, 2008. Note that even films that premiere at Roy Thomson Hall or the Visa Screening Room will re-screen in other festival theatres later in the week, for which you can buy regular tickets.
  • If you can't buy advanced tickets, try the box office the day of the showing.
  • If you can't buy same-day tickets, try the Rush Line at each theatre. The box office will sell any tickets where ticket holders don't show up 15 minutes before the screening or if extra tickets become available, to people in the Rush Line on a first-come, first-served basis. On occasion, ticket holders that don't want to see the film or that have extra tickets, may go down the line offering their extras; I've been on both ends of this before.

Check the official site for more info: http://tiff08.ca/boxofficeinfo/tickets/default.aspx

Some things to remember when selecting films, regardless of how you get tickets:

  • Remember to account for the time it will take to get from one film to another. The films may be in completely different theatres; it can take a fair bit of time to get from the Scotiabank to the Varsity theatre no matter if you take a cab, subway, or walk. Check out my festival map here to get an idea of where all the theatres are in downtown Toronto: http://www.riwasa.com/2008filmfestmap.htm.
  • Films may not start or end on time. On occasion, films may be delayed starting because they are waiting for the cast or director, or they may have the odd technical difficulty. Films may not end on time because they will have Q&A sessions after many of them, which then in turn may occasionally affect the start of the next film in that theatre.


The lottery system can be infuriating at times (ie. you're in box 22 and they draw box 23) but I can't believe that now they are putting festival donors in front of everyone else! I'm sure that after a couple of years of this TIFF will end up with a lot of new 'donors' spending the minimum of $250 to be able to get all their picks. Talk about a cash grab!

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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