Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Service Changes for 2009

The Festival outlined a number of changes to improve service for this year's festival, including:

  • All Gala films will have at least one screening accessible to Festival, Daytime, and 10-ticket Package holders, subject to availability. This was a problem last year, when there were 8 films that screened only at Roy Thomson Hall or the Visa Screening Room and thus could not be selected by package holders who did not have a gala or Visa Screening Room pass.
  • Package holders will have increased access to the Visa Screening Room. This apparently is being accomplished by having about half the screenings at the Visa Screening Room be regular public screenings, while the other half or so will be premium public screenings. Last year, you could not see films at the Visa Screening Room unless you had the Visa Screening Room pass, or bought individual premium tickets.
  • Reduction of wait times for advance order pickups. The Festival is searching out an appropriate location that meets their "needs for traffic flow and access for all box-office functions." This might mean not using the Toronto Life Square location for the advance order pickup like last year. On pickup day on September 3, there will be increased hours of operation, and they will be doubling the number of operators available for the ticket exchange process.
  • Distinct criteria for premium screenings. Premium screenings will always be the first showing of a film at Roy Thomson Hall or the Visa Screening Room, and have at least one of the following three criteria: be a red carpet event; be at least a North American premiere; include a Q&A with either a director or a principal cast member. Note that the majority of films will have their first screening in a non-premium venue, and many will have a Q&A, even in subsequent screenings.
  • Individual ticket sales will begin on September 4, 6 days before the start of the festival.
  • The film schedule will be released on August 25, and Advance Orders are not due until August 31 at 1:00 PM, which is three days more than last year.
  • Completed Advance Orders will be available for pickup in September 3 (note, this is a Thursday and not a holiday), before the Labour Day long weekend.

It sounds like the Festival has listened to the feedback coming out of last year's event, especially around the Visa Screening Room. It will be interesting to see how the Advance Order process will work for films there, since package holders will be able to see some, but not all films at the Visa Screening Room (i.e. premium screenings there will still require individual tickets or one of the Visa Screening Room passes). The additional package types for the Visa Screening Room provide a fair bit of variety and do seem to make things more accessible.

Hopefully the venue chosen for Advance Order pickup will facilitate the pickup process better this year. The one main problem at the Toronto Life Square location in the early part of last year was people cutting in line, since the line started at street level but the box office was three flights of escalators up. By the end of the festival, they had instituted a system that cut down on people cutting in.

Having additional time for the ordering process and having the long weekend free are both a plus, although I think that may be due in part to the date on which Labour Day falls this year (it's a lot later than normal). Hopefully this will persist into future years as well. On the downside, you will now need to take a vacation day for Advance Order pickup if you expect to have to do ticket exchanges.


Thanks Richard for the timely news. It sounds like the TIFFg has been listening to the very vocal complaints of the locals last year. This is good news for film lovers that do a lot of films at TIFF.

I'm glad you're impressed by the crumbs thrown the public's way this year but I still maintain the two-tier approach you yourself warned about is still in full effect...

...last year the so-called daytime lite package sold out in less than a day, proving it was never a serious offering. Totally insulting - see what happens this year.

And what about the silly array of programmers choices for pass offerings...I'd like to suggest one more:

The Trip-Over-Yourself-While Stargazing package - description: see all your favorite Hollywood heroes while lodged behind view-hogging paparazzi. You will be bussed to the front of every venue to take snaps of the back of people's heads and maybe a long-shot of Angelina, if you should be so lucky.

Price: without accompanying film - $699.99

-with accompanying film - $6999.99

It's too bad because it is difficult (read: nearly impossible) to otherwise see so many of the foreign flics but there is no way I am going to support this corporate cop-out (did you read Bruce Kirkland's comments on how crass TIFF is compared to the sponsorship connections at play at Cannes?)

Anyway, I'm keeping my word and not attending TIFF this year...not that they'll miss me...something tells me they still have suckered in enough people...

...save some of the crumbs for the pigeons, won't you?

Are there any service companies that will pick up your tickets in advance for a fee?

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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