Monday, August 31, 2009

Box 48 out of 54 Drawn

Processing of advance orders will start at box 48. There were 54 boxes in the draw this year.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

2009 Advance Order Procedure Deadline Monday

Just a reminder that for anyone participating in the Advance Order Procedure (i.e. anyone with a 10-ticket, Festival, Festival Lite, Day, or Day Lite packages), the deadline for dropping off your completed order is Monday, August 31, 2009 at 1:00 PM. If you fail to drop off your package by then at the festival box office at Nathan Phillips Square, then your order will be processed after everyone else.

Shortly after the deadline the festival will randomly draw a box number. Orders will be processed starting from that box. If you supplied an e-mail address on your envelope, then the festival will usually send you an e-mail once your order has been processed, letting you know which films you did and didn't get. If you didn't get some of your first or second choices, then you will receive a voucher for those selections, which can be exchanged for a ticket to another film of your choosing.

You can pick up tickets/vouchers starting Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 7:00 AM at the Nathan Phillips Square box office. If you got all your picks, you do not need to show up at 7:00 AM.

For those not participating in the Advance Order Procedure, general tickets go on sale September 4, 2009 at 7:00 AM, by phone, at the festival box office, or online.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Update on Premium Screenings

I heard back from Customer Relations at the festival, and here's what they had to say, which seems to confirm both what Tess and Parabola had heard from different people:

"There has been a printing error in the Public Advance Order Book, which does give Festival, Daytime, and 10-Ticket Package holders the public access to Premium Elgin Screenings (evenings, opening and closing gala, and mid-afternoon screenings on the first weekend).

We are committed to honouring this error and will accept orders that include Premium Elgin screenings - so if you would like to select these films please feel free to do so.

That said, we would suggest that you add a second selection to your order (ed: i.e. a backup 2nd choice) - there is a limited amount of stock available and as such there are no guarantees that we can fully honour those requests."

So, net result is you can pick anything you want in the Advance Order Book, but just note if you happen to pick a Premium Screening, and you end up far back enough in the draw, you chances of getting that film are smaller. Thanks to Jesse at the festival for the clarification.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Can I Pick Premium Screenings in the Advance Order Book?

At this point, it sounds like no, you shouldn't pick Visa Screening Room Premium Screenings even if they do show up in the Order Book. People seem to be hearing different things from different people (commenter Tess earlier heard it was ok), but commenter Parabola did a bit more investigation:

"I went over the box office folks, and the person there brought over someone "official looking". He said it was a screw-up that the premium shows were in the Order Book. He wasn't sure what the resolution would be, but advised that if you want to risk picking something obviously "premium" (e.g., those 6pm/9pm showings at Elgin), be sure to have a backup choice because he didn't know if any of those selections would end up being honored."

So, the safest bet at this point is to not select anything that might be a premium screening. This would be any screening at the Visa Screening Room (the ones at Roy Thomson Hall don't show up in the book) that also happens to be the first screening of the film at the festival (you can check which screenings each film has on pages 85 - 91 on the official schedule).

I haven't heard back from the festival on my e-mail query, but feel free to add comments to this post if anyone hears anything else. Hopefully the festival will make some sort of clarification.

2009 Programme Book Gift Bag

If you ordered a 2009 Programme Book, you will get it in a tote bag filled with some goodies (while supplies last). If you just ordered one of the ticket packages or passes, you don't get a tote bag.

This year, you get:

  • A tote bag (kind of like the reusable bags Loblaws sells)
  • A Stella Artois beer glass
  • Orville Redenbacher microwave popcorn plus a small bag from RBC to put in (just like you get at the theatre)
  • A 35 g sample of Gillette Style Power Gel
  • A 50 ml sample of Pantene Pro-V Shampoo
  • A 7 ml sample of Olay Definity
  • A coupon for 10% off a Porter Air flight
  • A $1 coupon for Covergirl products
  • A Pizza Nova gift card
  • A 3 sample serving of Starbucks coffee
  • A gift certificate for Matignon restaurant (worth $10 at lunch, $20 at dinner)
  • A flyer from Mike Weir Wine
  • A Toronto tourist magazine
  • A 591ml bottle of Aquafina plus water.
  • A pen/orange highlighter (for completing your advance order book)
  • An advance order book
  • An envelope for the advance order book
  • A copy of the official festival schedule
  • The 452-page, full-colour Programme Book
Click on the picture below for a larger view.

Advance Order Procedure Updates

I'll be revising the post describing how to complete the Advance Order Book later today, but note that the process for specifying a second choice has changed. For veteran festival-goers, the one thing to note is that if you do specify a second choice for a slot, it's assumed that you want the same number of tickets as you did for the first choice.

Also, anyone participating in the Advance Order Procedure (10-ticket Package, Festival Package, Festival Package Lite, Day Package, or Day Package Lite) can exchange tickets at no extra cost (i.e. the standard $2.50 ticket exchange fee is waived). However, ticket exchanges can only be made up to the day before the screening (i.e. same-day exchanges are not allowed).

The box office opened a bit before 10:00 AM today, and there wasn't much of a lineup to pick up forms.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Advance Order Process Begins Tomorrow

Just a reminder that the Advance Order Process begins tomorrow, Tuesday, August 25, 2009, for anyone who purchased one of the "You Choose" ticket packages (the Festival Package, Day Package, or 10-ticket Package). Starting at 10:00 AM, you can use your Envelope voucher to pick up an Official Film Schedule, an Advance Order Book, and an Order Envelope. Consult part 2 of the series on how to buy tickets ( for more information on how the process works. Note you don't have to show up right at 10:00, you can pick up your package any time, as long as you get your completed order in before Monday, August 31, 2009 at 1:00 PM.

You can also pick up the programme book if you have a Programme Book voucher.

Pick up your materials from the Festival Box Office at Nathan Phillips Square at 100 Queen Street West (located in a white tent, west of the square). The box office is open from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM every day. The closest subway stations are Queen and Osgoode. Don't forget to bring the following:

  • Envelope voucher
  • Programme book voucher, if you bought one
  • The Visa card used to make the purchase (assuming you bought with one)
  • Photo ID (student or senior ID if you purchased with a discount)
  • Any confirmation e-mail sent to you by the festival.
Note you can still buy any of the packages, or you can wait until individual tickets go on sale on Friday, September 4 at 7:00 AM.

If you bought any of the other packages (Visa Screening Room, Midnight Madness, Wavelengths, City to City, Festival Experience, Globetrotter, Double Date Gala, Roy Thomson Hall Closing Night Gala and Party), you do not pick up any tickets until Thursday, September 3, 2009 starting at 7:00 AM. Festival Student Cards cannot be used until the date printed on the card.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Shinsedai Cinema Festival Review

The inaugural Shinsedai Cinema Festival, a showcase of new, independent Japanese filmmakers, is going on this weekend in Toronto at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. I attended on Saturday and took in 5 films:

  • Freeter's Distress, a self-documentary by Hiroki Iwabuchi, a young grad trapped in a low-paying temporary job at a Canon manufacturing plant. A personal look at a wider social and economic problem in Japan, with corporations resorting to more and more temporary workers in an attempt to cut costs, but at the price of trapping a substantial portion of young people in a marginal, hand-to-mouth existence with little prospects for the future. The film is effective at communicating the hard and often demoralizing life, but doesn't always make it easy to sympathize with Iwabuchi as his lethargy often gets the better of him. Also screened with the short film Suzuki & Co.
  • The Peaches Programme, three short films all from Peaches, a collective of female Japanese directors. emerger focuses on a neglected housewife desperate for sex and a gay man seeking to reconnect with his ex, who find strength in one another to break out of their relationship dilemmas. Bunny in Hovel sees the return of the prodigal son to a dysfunctional family, which brings up long buried secrets. Csikspost finds a young girl wishing for a new mother and wife for her and her single father. All three films were executed well, although probably liked emerger and Csikspost more (for the latter, in case it's not clear, a doxy is a mistress).
  • Little Birds, a documentary from Takeharu Watai, shot inside Iraq from a few days before the US invasion, to a year later. The film contains some powerful imagery as it focuses on the children who become unwilling victims of the conflict and the impact on their families. A few stories become the core of the movie, from a man who loses three of his children to an errant bomb; a boy who loses his hand when he picks up an unexploded munition; and a girl who gets glass embedded in her right eye when an explosion happens next to her house. Also screened with the short Israel Mix, which was a visually interesting film, but in retrospect, I'm not sure it was the best match for the feature.
  • Thunderfish, a drama about a photographer who travels to an island searching for his friend after receiving a cryptic phone call. He soon becomes caught up with the odd inhabitants of the island, including an alluring prostitute he becomes enthralled with, only to find a sinister undercurrent to the mysterious goings-on. Director Touru Hano, cinematographer Tetsuhiro Kato, and star Junko Kimoto were in attendance, which was quite welcome for a film that came out in 2005. Hano admitted to some noir influence, but nothing in particular. Kato cited In the Mood for Love and Snow Falling on Cedars as influences from a visual standpoint, and mentioned how the look of this film was in contrast to the desaturated nature of films like Saving Private Ryan. Screened with the short Right Place from Kosai Sekine.
  • Electric Button (Moon and Cherry), a funny look at a young university student, Tadokoro, who joins the campus erotic writing club. He soon falls prey to co-member Mayama, a girl who sees Tadokoro as a way around her writer's block by seducing him to get material for her new book. But unexpected consequences result for both her and Tadokoro. A quite enjoyable and touching film.

Overall, a good mix of films, from shorts to features, and documentaries to dramas, with a bit of comedy sprinkled in, and some exposure to filmmakers not normally seen in the West. The day's viewing was also a good way to get geared up for TIFF. Shinsedai continues on Sunday, August 23 with more films, and tickets are still available at the door. Also on Sunday at 4:30 is a roundtable discussion on independent film in Japan which is free to attend.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

2009 Festival Statistics

The festival announced statistics for this year's edition:

There are 335 films, 271 of which are features, and 64 of which are shorts. This compares with 312 films last year (249 features and 63 shorts).

95 films have a world premiere (first showing anywhere) (116 last year).

39 films have an international premiere (first showing outside their home country) (29 last year)

108 films have a North American premiere (first showing in North America) (92 last year)

The festival received about 3000 (2100 international, 900 Canadian) submissions this year, down from 4209 (3445 international, 764 Canadian) last year.

64 countries are represented (same as last year).

There are 71 films that are directorial debuts (compared to 61 last year).

32 screens will be used this year (down from 36 last year).

There are 25,791 minutes of film in total (up from 20,693 last year), with the longest film being 192 minutes (down from 262 last year), and the shortest being 1 minute (down from 3 minutes last year).

There are 29 Canadian feature films, including co-productions, same as last year. There are 44 Canadian short films, including co-productions, up from 38 last year. 17 of those Canadian features are making their world premiere (down from 22 last year).

Final Films for Contemporary World Cinema

The final films were announced today for the festival:

In the Contemporary World Cinema programme:

  • 25 Carat, from Patxi Amezcua, about the criminal underworld in Barcelona.
  • Adrift, from Bui Thac Chuyen, about a newly married Vietnamese couple exploring the boundaries of their relationship.
  • Ajami, from Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani, set in a Palestinian community in Jaffa.
  • At the End of Daybreak, from Ho Yuhang, about two young people from different strata in society and their relationship that soon spirals out of control.
  • Backyard, from Carlos Carrera, about a policewoman investigating the murder of factory workers.
  • Balibo, from Robert Connolly, about a reporter who goes searching for his missing colleagues in East Timor in 1975.
  • Bran Nue Dae, from Rachel Perkins, based on a stage musical about young love and Aboriginal identity.
  • Castaway on the Moon, from Lee Hey-jun, a suicidal person becomes stranded on an island in the middle of Seoul's Han River.
  • Cell 211, from Daniel Monzon, about a new prison guard caught up in the middle of a riot, with the prisoners unaware of his true identity.
  • Deliver Us from Evil, from Ole Bornedal, about a young couple who encounter violence after moving to the country.
  • Dogtooth, from Yorgos Lanthimos, about three siblings raised at home by their over-protective parents.
  • The Double Hour, from Giuseppe Capotondi, a psychological thriller revolving around a couple caught up in an art heist.
  • Help Gone Mad, from Boris Khlebnikov, a modern take on Don Quixote.
  • I Am Not Your Friend, from György Pálfi, a film made up of a number of stories centered around romantic relationships.
  • If I Knew What You Said, from Mike Sandejas, about the relationship between a rebellious teenage girl and a deaf boy who loves to dance.
  • Jean Charles, from Henrique Goldman, about a young Brazilian girl who comes to London in 2005 to live with her cousin, with the two of them soon to be caught up in the bombings of that year.
  • The Last Days of Emma Blank, from Alex van Warmerdam, about a rich woman waited on hand-and-foot by her family, who are just waiting for her to die so they can inherit her wealth.
  • My Year Without Sex, from Sarah Watt, about a family that forgoes sex for a year.
  • Le Père de mes Enfants, from Mia Hansen-Løve, about a film producer who's life falls apart, leaving it to his wife to pick up the pieces.
  • Prince of Tears, from Yonfan, set in 1950 and about Taiwan's White Terror, an anti-communist campaign.
  • Same Same but Different, from Detlev Buck, about a young German man that falls in love with an HIV-positive Cambodian girl.
  • The Search, from Wan Ma Cai Dan, a road movie set entirely in Tibet, filmed by a local crew, in the Tibetan language.
  • Tales from the Golden Age, from Cristian Mungiu, Ioana Maria Uricaru, Hanno Höfer, Razvan Marculescu and Constantin Popescu, a collection of scenes set in the communist era in Romania.
  • V.O.S., from Cesc Gay, a comedic film-within-a-film about love and friendship.

The final films for the Masters programme were also announced:

  • Antichrist, from Lars von Trier, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe.
  • Carmel, from Amos Gitaï, in which he reflects on his own life.
  • Honeymoons, from Goran Paskaljevic, about two young couples travelling abroad to realize their dreams, only to have them dashed.
  • Hotel Atlântico, from Suzana Amaral, about an unnamed man who wanders through southern Brazil and his encounters.
  • Melody for a Street Organ, from Kira Muratova, about two orphaned siblings who travel to Moscow to search for their father.
  • Le Refuge, from François Ozon, about a pregnant young woman who seeks refuge at a seaside home with her brother after the death of her partner.
  • Vincere, from Marco Bellocchio, about the early years of Benito Mussolini
  • Vision, from Margarethe von Trotta, about Hildegard von Bingen, a Benedictine nun who was also a writer, a scientist, and a composer among many other talents.
  • White Material, from Claire Denis, about French ex-pats trying to defend their African coffee plantation in the midst of a civil war.
  • The White Ribbon, from Michael Haneke, the Palme d'Or winning film about strange happenings in a German town on the eve of the first world war.
  • The Window, from Buddhadeb Dasgupta, about a man who decides to replace a broken window in his old school, only to have things go completely awry.

In the Special Presentations programme:

  • Mr. Nobody, from Jaco Van Dormael, starring Jared Leto as the world's oldest and last mortal man in 2092, who is on the verge of death. Also stars Sarah Polley, Diane Kruger, Linh-Dan Pham and Rhys Ifans.

In the Discovery programme:

  • Crab Trap, from Oscar Ruiz Navia, looking at life in a small costal village in Colombia.
  • Mall Girls, from Katarzyna Roslaniec, about a country girl starting in a new school in the city, who must learn to survive in her new environment.
  • The Man Beyond the Bridge, from Laxmikant Shetgaonkar, about the consequences when a man befriends and then impregnates a mad woman living in the forests of India.
  • Nora, from Alla Kovgan and David Hinton, with Zimbabwean dancer Nora Chipaumire starring in a fable based on her own life and shot on location in Southern Africa. Screened with Saint Louis Blues, from Dyana Gaye, a musical about a cab ride from Dakar to Saint Louis.

In the Sprockets Family Zone programme:

  • Timetrip: The Curse of the Viking Witch, from Mogens Hagedorn, about a brother and sister who travel through time and Danish history.
  • Under the Mountain, from Jonathan King, based on Maurice Gee's novel, about two twinfs who must save the world.

In the Vanguard programme:

  • She, A Chinese, from Xiaolu Guo, follows a young woman as she travels from rural China to London. Won the Golden Leopard Grand Prize at the Locarno International Film Festival.

Actors, Directors, and Others Attending - 2009

The list of actors, directors, and others attending the festival has been announced. The full list can be found here:

Some highlights below:

  • Abbie Cornish
  • Adam Brody
  • Aidan Quinn
  • Alexander Siddig
  • Alfred Molina
  • Alia Shawkat
  • Ally Sheedy
  • Amanda Seyfried
  • Amber Heard
  • Amos Gitaï
  • Anthony LaPaglia
  • Arsinée Khanjian
  • Atom Egoyan
  • Barry Levinson
  • Ben Barnes
  • Bill Murray
  • Bill Nighy
  • Bong Joon-ho
  • Brenda Blethyn
  • Brian Cox
  • Brendan Gleeson
  • Bruce Sweeney
  • Bryan Brown
  • Chris Rock
  • Christopher Plummer
  • Cillian Murphy
  • Claire Denis
  • Clive Owen
  • Colin Farrell
  • Colin Firth
  • Colm Feore
  • Connie Nielsen
  • Daniel Stern
  • Danny DeVito
  • Danny Glover
  • David Duchovny
  • Deborra-Lee Furness
  • Demi Moore
  • Diablo Cody
  • Dilip Mehta
  • Dominic Cooper
  • Don Hahn
  • Don McKellar
  • Don Roos
  • Drew Barrymore
  • Dylan Akio Smith
  • Edward Norton
  • Elias Koteas
  • Ellen Page
  • Emily Blunt
  • Emily Mortimer
  • Eva Green
  • Eve
  • Ewan McGregor
  • Frances O'Connor
  • François Ozon
  • Gaspar Noé
  • George Clooney
  • George A. Romero
  • Gordon Pinsent
  • Jason Reitman
  • Grant Heslov
  • Guy Maddin
  • Hirokazu Kore-eda
  • Hugh Hefner
  • Isabella Rossellini
  • Jack White
  • Jacob Tierney
  • James Purefoy
  • Jane Campion
  • Jay Baruchel
  • Jean-Marc Vallée
  • Jean-Pierre Jeunet
  • Jeff Bridges
  • Jennifer Connelly
  • Jennifer Garner
  • Jimmy Smits
  • Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
  • Johnnie To
  • Julianne Moore
  • Juliette Lewis
  • Karyn Kusama
  • Keanu Reeves
  • Keisha Castle-Hughes
  • Kevin Spacey
  • Kerry Washington
  • Kristin Booth
  • Kristin Scott Thomas
  • Kyle MacLachlan
  • Liam Neeson
  • Lisa Kudrow
  • Lisa Ray
  • Mads Mikkelsen
  • Marica Gay Harden
  • Mariah Carey
  • Matt Damon
  • Matthew Bissonnette
  • Megan Fox
  • Sir Michael Caine
  • Michael Cera
  • Michael Douglas
  • Michael Moore
  • Miranda Otto
  • Miranda Richardson
  • Naomi Watts
  • Natalie Portman
  • Neil Diamond
  • Neil Jordan
  • Nicolas Cage
  • Olga Kurylenko
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Paprika Steen
  • Patricia Clarkson
  • Paul Bettany
  • Penelope Cruz
  • Peter Berg
  • Peter Mettler
  • Peter Sarsgaard
  • Rachel Ward
  • Radha Mitchell
  • Rani Mukerji
  • Rebecca Miller
  • Renée O'Connor
  • Ricky Gervais
  • Sir Ridley Scott
  • Rob Lowe
  • Rob Stefaniuk
  • Robert Duvall
  • Robin Wright Penn
  • Rupert Friend
  • S. Epatha Merkerson
  • Sacheen Littlefeather
  • Samantha Morton
  • Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York
  • Satoko Yokohama
  • Sissy Spacek
  • Snoop Dogg
  • Sook-Yin Lee
  • Stephen Poliakoff
  • Steven Soderbergh
  • Tatiana von Furstenberg
  • Ted Kotcheff
  • Terry Gilliam
  • Tilda Swinton
  • Timothy Olyphant
  • Todd Solondz
  • Tyler Perry
  • Vera Farmiga
  • Viggo Mortensen
  • Werner Herzog
  • Willem Dafoe
  • Woody Harrelson

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Reminder of Upcoming Dates

A reminder on some important upcoming dates:

  • Thursday, August 20, 2009, 10:00 AM: all film titles announced.
  • Tuesday, August 25, 2009, 10:00 AM: pickup starts for Advance Order Forms and programme books. Advance Orders for the "You Choose" packages can be submitted from this time until the deadline. The full festival schedule with times and theatres is released at this time.
  • Monday, August 31, 2009, 1:00 PM: All Advance Orders must be submitted before this time to be eligible for advance processing. All orders received after this date will be processed after everyone else.
  • September 3, 2009, 7:00 AM: Pickup completed Advance Orders. If you provided an e-mail address with your order, you should in theory receive an e-mail between August 31st and September 3rd listing which films you received and which were sold out (note, there's no guarantee you will actually receive an e-mail, but I've pretty much gotten one every year since they started doing it).
  • September 4, 2009, 7:00 AM: Individual tickets go on sale for all films. If you didn't buy a ticket package, now is your chance to buy tickets; if you did buy a package but want to see more films, you can also purchase additional tickets as well.
  • September 10, 2009: The festival begins.

Dialogues Films Announced

The Dialogues: Talking with Pictures programme shows films chosen by people in the film industry, films that have influenced or inspired them. This year, the programme features:

  • Ted Kotcheff presents the fully-restored copy of his 1971 film Wake In Fright (aka Outback).
  • Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Ondine), presents Fellini's The White Sheik.
  • Joe Dante (The Howling, Gremlins) presents Norman McLeod's The Gift, starring W.C. Fields.
  • Sook-Yin Lee, director of The Year of the Carnivore at the festival this year and host of CBC Radio's Definitely Not the Opera, presents Jane Campion's Sweetie.

Mavericks Announcements

The Mavericks programme contains moderated discussions with filmmakers and others in the film industry. In previous years, I've seen a discussion with Nick Park, creator of Wallace and Gromit, Larry Charles and Bill Maher about their documentary Religulous, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter talking about their lives since leaving office, and one on Bollywood with Amitabh Bachchan among others.

This year the festival has the following jam packed schedule. Note that each Mavericks presentation has a live discussion, and in many cases an actual film, and occurs only once during the festival.

  • Barry Levinson Presents The Band That Wouldn't Die: Barry Levinson, who has directed such films as Diner and Good Morning, Vietnam, and produced everything from Homicide: Life on the Street to Oz, presents his new film, The Band That Wouldn't Die, part of ESPN's 30 for 30 project ( The film is about a marching band that kept Baltimore football fans going.
  • An Afternoon with Chris Rock: Comedian Chris Rock talks about his documentary in the festival, Good Hair.
  • La Danse - Le Ballet de l'Opera de Paris: Frederick Wiseman presents and discusses his documentary La Danse, which looks at the Paris Opera Ballet.
  • Peter Berg Presents Kings Ransom: Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, The Kingdom) presents his film that is part of ESPN's 30 for 30 project, Kings Ransom, about how Wayne Gretzky's move from Edmonton to Los Angeles changed hockey.
  • In Conversation with Michael Caine: Sir Michael Caine talks about his long and varied career, including his latest film at the festival, Harry Brown.

I think everything on the list, including Wiseman's documentary, sounds really interesting, and I've heard ESPN's 30 for 30 project discussed before on ESPN's Bill Simmons' podcast, so I'm intrigued by the discussions with Levinson and Berg.

Additional Documentaries Announced

The festival announced some more documentary films for this year:

  • Ahead of Time, from Bob Richman (Metallica: Some Kind of Monster), about Ruth Gruber, who in 1931 was the world's youngest Ph.D. at the time, and covered the Exodus 1947.
  • Once Upon a Time Proletarian: 12 Tales of a Country, from Guo Xiaolu (She, A Chinese), with 12 stories about people in modern China.
  • Stolen, from Violeta Ayala and Dan Fallshaw, about the Saharawi refugees who have been in Alergian camps for more than 30 years.
  • The Sunshine Boy, from Fridrik Thor Fridriksson, about a woman trying to understand her son's autism.
  • Waking Sleeping Beauty, from Don Hahn, about the rebirth of the Disney animation studio in the late 80's and 90's. Hahn himself was a producer on a number of the films including Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

How Do I Buy Tickets for TIFF 2009? - Part 3

This is the third in a series of posts on how to buy tickets for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). This post describes some strategies and considerations for selecting which films to see.

There's no one right way to pick which films to see at the festival; it's a very personal choice based on your own interests and personality. This post provides some different ways you can wrangle the huge number of films into something more manageable that appeals to you.

Ways of Selecting Films

Some of the ways you can focus in on particular films include:

  • Director
  • Actor
  • Writer
  • Genre
  • Country
  • Festival programme
  • Festival programmer
  • Story, plot, or characters
  • Timeslot
  • Theatre

Director, actor, and writer are fairly self-explanatory. I've met people who will jump at the chance to see the latest Werner Herzog film, for instance. Others want to see Brad Pitt or Patricia Clarkson.

Some people like to focus on a particular genre or span genres. For example, I usually try to see a dramatic film, a documentary, something comedic, something animated, something character-driven, and something with some action at a minimum (but not necessarily in one single film). I don't generally go out of my way to watch something historical, but I do usually seek out something contemporary.

I also like to see films from a number of different countries. At a minimum, I usually see something from Canada, France, Japan, and Scandinavia. I then usually end up with others from the US, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

For festival programme: the films in the festival are divided up amongst a number of different programmes:

  • Canada First!: focuses on new and emerging Canadian filmmakers who are making their first appearance at the festival.
  • Canadian Open Vault: features iconic, recently restored Canadian film.
  • City to City: new this year, this programme contains films and documentaries focusing on a single city, this year being Tel Aviv.
  • Contemporary World Cinema: films from around the world.
  • Dialogues: Talking with Pictures: has people in the film industry talking about what films have inspired and influenced them. Last year features Agnes Varda, Terence Davies, Joan Dupont, and Deepa Mehta.
  • Discovery: features new and emerging filmmakers from around the world.
  • Gala Presentations: high profile Canadian and international films.
  • Masters: films by established and renowned filmmakers.
  • Mavericks: discussions with people in the film industry. In the past, I've attended panels on Indian cinema, Nick Park discussing Wallace and Gromit, and Larry Charles and Bill Maher talking about Religulous while it was still in production.
  • Midnight Madness: films that are outside the normal festival boundaries, such as thrillers, horror, and cult films.
  • Real to Reel: documentaries.
  • Short Cuts Canada: Canadian short films, all under 50 minutes in length.
  • Special Presentations: films with major stars and/or directors from around the world.
  • Sprockets Family Zone: children's films.
  • Vanguard: films with a younger feel that push social and cultural boundaries.
  • Visions: films that stretch the boundaries of conventional cinema, using new techniques, territory, and/or technolgies.
  • Wavelengths: experimental film and video art.

There are some people who just want to see everything in the Midnight Madness or Wavelengths programmes, and others who pick and choose from all over (I'm in the latter category). Note that if you bought one of the "You Choose" packages, you can select films from any of the programmes, with some exceptions for the Gala Presentations. Even though there are specific packages for Wavelengths, Midnight Madness, and City to City, you aren't required to have one of those to see the films in those programmes; you can still use your "You Choose" package or buy individual tickets.

Gala Presentations have some restrictions. For anything at Roy Thomson Hall, you have to buy individual tickets, or for the closing film, you can also use the Closing Night Gala package. For anything at the Visa Screening Room, you need a Visa Screening Room package or buy individual tickets; but if you want to see what is termed a "regular" and not a "premium" screening, then you can use your "You Choose" package.

A premium screening is the first public screening of a film at the festival at either Roy Thomson Hall or the Visa Screening Room (note that first screenings that occur at other theatres are not considered premium), and have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Is a red carpet event
  • Is at least a North American premiere
  • Has a Q&A with the director or principal cast

Note that not every film premiers at one of these Gala venues. Most films will actually have their premiere at the festival in a non-Gala theatre, and thus will not be considered to be a premium screening. Also, Q&A's are not restricted to galas. A large number of films will have Q&As; all the reviews in this blog that list Q&A notes were from non-Gala/non-premium screenings.

There are separate programmers for each programme in the festival, and those people have become quite well-known over the years to regular festival goers. Each person has their own personality, and over time you can grow to like a particular person's style and choices, and dislike those of others. If you read the description of a film in one of the official sources such as the programme book or the festival website, you'll find that each is written by a different programmer.

Some people will see a film based on the person who programmed it. Some people such as myself find that some programmers' descriptions of the films are more representative than those by others. As such, the programmer and their description of the story, plot, or characters can be a factor for some in selecting films.

Selecting by timeslot can be an alternative if you have limited time to attend the festival. For instance, if you're unlike crazy people like myself who take vacation to attend the festival, then you may only have time during weekday evenings or weekends. As a result, you may end up trying to choose from whatever films happen to be screening on a Tuesday evening.

I have a friend who also occasionally considers the theatre when selecting films. If he finds himself already seeing a number of films in a single theatre (e.g. the Scotiabank or the AMC), he will often schedule in other films in that same theatre to eliminate having to travel from theatre to theatre, especially if there is limited time between movies.

Considerations When Selecting Films

Some things to remember when selecting films:

  • Each film usually screens multiple times during the festival. If you can't get into the first screening, try one of the other ones.
  • Films may not start or end on time, so build some contingency into your schedule.
  • Times in the festival schedule do not include time for Q&A sessions after the film if the director or actors are present, and depending on the film, this can last from 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Don't forget to account for travel time between theatres, as some are far apart from one another.
  • If you have children, check the film rating before buying a ticket. The Ontario Film Review Board lists the different film classifications and who can get in ( Note that many films are unrated, and as such, you must be over 18 to attend, and that includes infants and toddlers.
  • You are not guaranteed entry if you arrive within 15 minutes of the film start time, and if you are more than 10 minutes late, you definitely won't be let in.

Sources for Film Selection

Some valuable sources that can help you decide which film to see are listed below:

  • Film listing at the official festival website (
  • Festival programme book (can be purchased for $32.00)
  • ( has films sliced and diced by title, director, actor, language, country, programme, classification, and review rating, with links to IMDB, trailers, and critical reviews, and the ability to search cinema sources for more information. With a new, clean look-and-feel for this year's fest!

Scheduling Your Festival

If you are participating in the Advance Order Process with one of the "You Choose" ticket packages, or just buying individual tickets for multiple films, then choosing films in a given timeslot can make it easier to create your schedule. For example, a friend and I usually attend the festival and see about 60 films between the two of us. We'll see the majority of films together, and some separately depending on our interests. It can get extremely complicated trying to schedule that many films since each screens multiple times on different days.

What we usually do is rank every film in the festival from 1 to 5, with 1 being something we don't want to see at all, 3 is something I could take or leave, and 5 being something I want to see no matter what. We then start with scheduling all the 5's regardless of whether we both want to see the film or not, then 4's that we have in common, then 3's, and then we fill out the rest individually until we've used up all our tickets.

Every time we schedule a particular screening, we try and find one that doesn't conflict with any choices we've already made. Often times a conflict will occur, in which case we have to find a different time for the film, or reschedule something we've already chosen. This can be a very time consuming process; it usually takes my friend and I anywhere up to 8 hours to complete the process. Often times, we will run into a situation where it is impossible to see a film because there are no screenings available that don't conflict with other films we want to see more.

If you are only picking movies for yourself or are seeing 10 or less, this likely won't be a major problem for you. However, you should always consider backups in case your primary choice is sold out. This is true both if you are buying individual tickets or doing the Advance Order Process. It is extremely common for people to go to the box office, try to buy a ticket for a specific film, find out it's sold out, then spend a long time trying to find an alternative movie because they haven't taken the time to figure out what else they might want to see. This has the side effect of tying up the box office and creating long lines, and frustrating every one else. Plus, the longer you take trying to find an alternative choice, the more likely it is that your eventual alternate may be sold out to other people at the box office or buying online. Also note that there is now a $2.50 fee to exchange a ticket, so choose wisely.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Shinsedai Cinema Festival

If you're in Toronto and looking for a warm-up to TIFF, check out the new Shinsedai Cinema Festival, on next weekend, from Friday, August 21 to Sunday, August 23, 2009. The festival will be held at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre at 6 Garamond Court (just around Wynford Drive and the Don Valley Parkway), and features new, independent Japanese films. There are 12 feature-length films, a number of shorts, a round table discussion on Sunday (which is free), and a number of special guests. I hope to be able to catch a film or two that weekend.

Individual tickets are $12, or you can buy 5 for $50, or 12 for $105.

Check out the festival site for more details:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Additional Galas and Films

More films were announced by the festival today.

Galas include:

  • Agora, from Alejandro Amenábar, starring Rachel Weisz (who was at the festival last year with The Brothers Bloom), as Hypatia of Alexandria, an astronomer, mathematician, and philosopher, who is desired by two men; Orestes (Oscar Isaac) and Hypatia's slave Davus (Max Minghella).
  • Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, from Jan Kounen, about the rumoured relationship between composer Stravinsky (palyed by Mads Mikkelsen) and fashion designer Coco Chanel (Anna Mouglalis).
  • I, Don Giovanni, from Carlos Saura, about Lorenzo da Ponte, a librettist and poet who knew Casanova and worked with Mozart and Salieri.
  • Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, from Don Roos, based on the novel of the same name by Ayelet Waldman, with Natalie Portman as a new law school grad struggling to deal with her marriage to her boss, a new stepson, her estranged father, and her husband's ex-wife (Lisa Kudrow).
  • The Men Who Stare at Goats, from Grant Heslov, starring Ewan McGregor as a reporter who meets a man (George Clooney) supposedly part of a secret military unit based on psychic powers, led by Jeff Bridges.
  • Mother and Child, from Rodrigo Garcia, about the bond between mother and child, starring Annette Bening, Naomi Watts, and Kerry Washington, along with Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy Smits, Cherry Jones, and S. Epatha Merkerson.
  • Phantom Pain, from Matthias Emcke, about a slacker whose life changes after an accident.

Additional films were announced for the Special Presentations programme:

  • Baaria, from Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso, Malena), follows Peppino Torrenuova (Francesco Scianna) through the course of his life in a small Sicilian town.
  • L'Affaire Farewell, from Christian Carion, about a KGB colonel who turns from his country and offers key information to France, hastening the demise of the USSR.
  • The Joneses, from Derrick Borte, with Demi Moore and David Duchovny as a married couple who move to the suburbs and soon become the envy of their neighbours.
  • Les Derniers Jours du Monde, from Arnaud Larrieu and Jean-Marie Larrieu, starring Mathieu Amalric (who has been at the festival before in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - as a man searching for his lost love while the rest of the planet awaits the end from an approaching global apocalypse.
  • My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, from Werner Herzog (who also has Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans screening at the festival this year), looking at the motivations behind an actor, starring in a Greek tragedy, who decides to commit the crime in the play for real.
  • The Road, from John Hillcoat, based on the post-apocalyptic novel by Cormac McCarthy, with Viggo Mortensen as man travelling the wastes with his young son (Kodi Smit- McPhee), in a desperate struggle to stay alive in a brutal world. With Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall and Guy Pearce.
  • Road, Movie, from Dev Benegal, about a man who forsakes the family hair oil business in order to travel from town-to-town showing movies.
  • A Single Man, from Tom Ford, follows a college professor (Colin Firth) over the course of a day, while he copes with the death of his long-time partner (Matthew Goode). Also stars Julianne Moore. Firth also has Dorian Gray at the festival this year.
  • The Traveller, from Ahmed Maher, follows the life of a man from youth to old age, with Omar Sharif.
  • The Waiting City, from Claire McCarthy, about a couple (Radha Mitchell, Joel Edgerton) whose marriage is tested as they wait in India for the finalization of their adoption of a baby.
  • Wheat, from He Ping, about two soliders from a foreign land who arrive in the enemy kingdom where all the men have left to go to war, and soon convince all the women of the victory of their absent menfolk.
  • Youth in Revolt, from Miguel Arteta, with Michael Cera as a boy out to win the heart of a girl (Portia Doubleday), based on the novel by C.D. Payne, with Steve Buscemi, Ray Liotta, Justin Long, Jean Smart, Ari Graynor, Fred Willard, Zach Galifianakis and Mary Kay Place.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Future Projections Art Projects

The festival announced a number of art projects that will be showcased during the festival as part of its Future Projections programme. It sounds reminiscent of some of the other big art festivals in town like Luminato and Toronto's version of Nuit Blanche.

Highlights include:

  • Isabella Rossellini, who's been somewhat of a TIFF fixture over the last few years, especially in her collaborations with Guy Maddin, comes with her own short films in the Green Porno series adapted into sculpture.
  • Mark Lewis presents his filmed works that made up Canada's contribution to this year's Venice Biennale, along with other of his works about Toronto.
  • A number of works from South-African born, Berlin-based artist Candice Breitz, including an interview and an exhibition at The Power Plant gallery at Toronto's Harbourfront.
  • A meditation on film and imagery from cinematographer Christopher Doyle (Chungking Express, Ashes of Time, Rabbit-Proof Fence, Lady in the Water).
  • An installation from Canadian director/actor/writer Don McKellar centered around the cell phone.
  • A reworking of Godard's Sympathy for the Devil by Adam Pendleton.
  • A live audio/video mashup y Eclectic Method.
  • Video art from Jeremy Shaw, Marco Brambilla and Oliver Pietsch projected against the east wall of the new, as yet unfinished Bell Lightbox, future home of TIFF.
  • A 30-minute video work centered around street signs from the 140 official neighbourhoods in Toronto from artists Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak.
  • Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Syndromes and a Century) presents Phantoms of Nabua, a single channel installation that is presented in conjunction with A Letter to Uncle Boonmee in the Wavelengths programme.
  • A video installation from Danish artist Jesper Just on film and the emotions it engenders.
Full details can be found at the official festival web site:

City-to-City Programme Announced

New this year to the festival is a special programme called City-to-City. This programme focuses on films that showcase a specific city, this year being Tel Aviv. In addition to individual tickets and ticket packages, you can see these films with the City-to-City ticket package, which gives you a ticket to each of the 10 films in this programme.

Films include:

  • Bena, from Niv Klainer, a 2009 film about a father trying to keep his schizophrenic son at home, but who finds his task made more difficult when he takes in a Thai migrant worker.
  • Big Dig (Te'alat Blaumilch), from Efraim Kishon, a 1969 farce about one man with a jackhammer that brings the entire city to a halt.
  • Big Eyes (Einayim G'dolot), from Uri Zohar, a 1974 film about a basketball coach that needs to decide what he wants out of life.
  • The Bubble (Ha-Buah), from Eytan Fox, a 2006 film about young people in Tel Aviv, tinged with politics.
  • A History of Israeli Cinema (Historia Shel Hakolnoah Israeli) - Part 1, from Raphaël Nadjari, a documentary covering Israeli film from 1932 to 1978.
  • A History of Israeli Cinema (Historia Shel Hakolnoah Israeli) - Part 2, from Raphaël Nadjari, a documentary covering Israeli film from 1978 to now.
  • Jaffa (Kalat Hayam), from Keren Yedaya, a 2009 film about the relationship between a young Jewish girl and an Arab boy over the years.
  • Kirot (Walls), from Danny Lerner, a 2009 film about an illegal Russian immigrant (Olga Kurylenko) who befriends a woman who lives in the same building. While Kurylenko is best known to western audiences from her starring turn in Quantum of Solace, I first saw her in her acting debut L'annulaire (The Ring Finger) at the festival, back in 2005 (, and then a year later in Paris, je t'aime.
  • Life According to Agfa, from Assi Dayan, a 1992 film focusing on the patrons of a neighbourhood bar.
  • Phobidilia, from Yoav Paz and Doron Paz, a 2009 film about a young man locking himself away in his apartment with his TV and the internet to keep him company.

Free TIFF Events at Yonge-Dundas Square

The festival announced a number of free events to take place during TIFF from September 10th to 19th. The events will be held at Yonge-Dundas Square, which is an open space on the southeast corner of Yonge St and Dundas St, across from the Eaton Centre and from the AMC theatre. The closest subway stop is Dundas station on the Yonge line.

Events include:

Daily at lunchtimes and some evenings will be the "TIFF In Concert" programme, showing concert and musical films, including Woodstock, Stop Making Sense, Rattle and Hum, The Last Waltz, Don't Look Back, Ziggy Stardust, Shut Up & Sing, Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man and The Harder They Come.

Weekdays will be "TIFF Shhh!", which will show silent films including Tillie's Punctured Romance, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, It, Steamboat Bill Jr. and The Busher. The films will be preceded by shorts from the NFB, the City to City programme of the festival, and Canadian music-themed shorts.

Special events at night include:

  • Thursday, September 10, starting at 7:00 PM: a live satellite feed from the Opening Night Gala at Roy Thomson Hall, followed by a live set with DJ Champion.
  • Friday, September 11 at 6:30 PM: concert featuring the stars of the Canadian rock'n'roll vampire comedy Suck; performers TBA.
  • Saturday, September 12 at 2:00 PM: events for the kids, including face-painting, green-screen activity and more.
  • Saturday, September 12 at 3:00 PM: The Toronto Zombie Walk: Special Director's Cut Edition, with an appearance by George A. Romero, followed by Night of the Living Dead (1968). I'm thinking you might want to watch the timing of the previous event if your kids are easily scared by hordes of zombies walking around :-)
  • Saturday, September 12 at 4:00 PM: Poet and author Sapphire reads in support of the festival showing of the film based on her novel Push, the film appropriately being titled "Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire".
  • Sunday, September 13 at 4:00 PM: A roller derby exhibition with the Toronto Roller Derby League and stars from the film Whip It (Drew Barrymore's directorial debut).
  • Sunday, September 13 at 9:00 PM: a concert with The Topp Twins, New Zealand's top yodelling comedy duo (that's got to be a niche if I ever heard one), hosted by comedienne Elvira Kurt.
  • Monday, September 14 at 8:00 PM: Jonathan Demme hosts the North American premiere of The Neil Young Trunk Show, featuring an appearance by Neil Young himself.
  • Tuesday, September 15, starting at 7:00 PM: Swing lessons and a live concert by the Kings of Swing in support of the film Hipsters, showing at the festival.
  • Thursday, September 17 at 8:00 PM: New York artist Adam Pendleton's BAND repurposes Jean-Luc Godard's Sympathy for the Devil into a contemporary art happening that places the celebrated indie art-rock/post-punk band Deerhoof at the centre of the action.
  • Friday, September 18 at 6:00 PM: the world premiere of American Masters - Joan Baez, featuring a short concert by Joan Baez.
  • Saturday, September 19, starting at 7:00 PM: The world premiere of Copyright Criminals followed by the Festival Wrap Party. The Festival Wrap Party features the audio/visual mash-ups of Eclectic Method. Special guests include Clyde Stubblefield and others.

Friday, August 07, 2009

How Do I Buy Tickets for TIFF 2009? - Part 2

This is the second in a series of posts on how to buy tickets for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). This post describes how the Advance Order Procedure works. This post has been updated for the 2009 process.

You can participate in the Advance Order Procedure if you buy one of the following "You Choose" ticket packages:

  • 10-ticket Package
  • Festival Package
  • Festival Package Lite
  • Day Package
  • Day Package Lite

When you buy one of these packages, you should receive in the mail an Envelope voucher, a Drop Off voucher and a Pick Up voucher, provided you bought before July 31, 2009 (if you didn't you will have to pick them up from the festival box office - note I haven't received vouchers yet in the mail as of August 10 - the festival says to call if you haven't received anything by August 14, assuming you placed an order between July 6 at 10:00 AM and July 31 at 11:59 PM). If you bought a Programme Book, you will also receive a voucher for that as well. The Programme Book is a large book with a detailed description and photo for each film in the festival. It is not necessary to buy this book to complete the Advance Order Procedure, as all the information is available in other formats and on the festival web site, but it is convenient to flip through offline, plus it makes a nice souvenir.

A picture of previous Programme Books is below:

And here's what the book looks like inside:

Starting at 10:00 AM on August 25, 2009, you can go to the main festival box office Nathan Phillips Square to pick up your order form. Note that on the first day there will be a line, and it can take over 45 minutes to get through it, especially if you show up first thing in the morning, so plan your day accordingly. Note you don't actually have to line up first thing on the 25th, as you can pick up your order form at any time after that as long as the completed form is returned before 1:00 PM on August 31, 2009.

If you don't live in Toronto and bought the Out-of-Town Ticket Selection Service, the festival will send everything to you via FedEx, with delivery by 10:30 AM on August 25 (time not guaranteed for remote or rural locations).

If you go to the box office in person to pick up your order, before getting in any line, track down the festival volunteer usually at the head of the line, and verify that the line is the correct one for you to be in (you can identify the volunteers by their headsets or festival t-shirts). The festival doesn't always have someone at the end of the line telling people what the line is for. There will likely be at least two lines; one for order form pickup, and one for people to buy ticket packages or get their vouchers if they didn't receive them in the mail.

Make sure you have your Envelope voucher (and optionally your Programme Book voucher) with you when you go to pick up the order form. You will not be able to get anything without the vouchers. When you get to the front of the line, turn in those vouchers and make sure you receive an order envelope, the Advance Order Book, and a copy of the Official Film Schedule, as you will need all three to complete your order. If you opted not to buy the programme book, then you will need to get yourself a highlighter (the festival won't supply those, you'll have to buy them yourself). The colour of the highlighter is no longer important.

If you did buy a programme book, then *while supplies last*, you will receive a tote bag filled with a number of promotional items and the programme book (and you will get an orange highlighter). Sometimes they run out of tote bags, but you will still receive the programme book no matter what. Check this post ( for details on what was in the 2009 tote bag. Regardless of whether you get a tote or not, you still need to make sure you receive an order envelope, the Advance Order Book, and a copy of the Official Film Schedule along with your programme book.

So, the next step is to fill out the order. Make sure you have the following:

1. The Official Film Schedule:


2. The Advance Order Book:

3. A highlighter.

Let's consider an example where you want to see the film Whip It on one of the days of the festival, with a couple of friends of yours. The order form looks as follows:

First, write the number of tickets you want in the box labeled "Qty" next to the name of the film. In this example, we want 3 tickets (because it will be yourself plus two friends). This will represent your first choice for this timeslot.

Next, highlight the name of the film with a highlighter. Do NOT highlight the barcode.

Next, find a film around the same time that will be your backup choice if your first choice is already full when they get around to processing your order form. Note this step is optional. If you do not specify a backup film and your first choice is full, you will receive a ticket voucher which you can redeem at a later date for another film at the festival. There is no fee to exchange tickets, provided you are participating in the Advance Order Procedure.

In this example, Crab Trap will be the backup choice. Below the entry for Whip It, in the 6 boxes next to the "2nd", write the 6-character event code for the 2nd choice film. In this case, the event code for Crab Trap is 1321A3 (it's the code next to the film's title). Also write in the name of the backup movie in the "Title" box below the "2nd" boxes. Note that you cannot specify a different number of tickets for the backup; the festival will in this example assume you still want 3 tickets for the 2nd choice. Do not highlight the backup choice or fill in anything in that film's entry.

Your form should look as follows:

Repeat this process until you run out of coupons or choices. For example, if you ordered a 10-ticket Package, and you wanted 2 tickets for each film, you would select 5 1st choice films and optionally, 5 2nd choice backups.

Note the restrictions on your particular package when selecting films, to ensure your order is processed correctly:
  • 1o-ticket Package: maximum of 4 tickets per screening. Valid for regular screenings only.
  • Festival Package and Festival Lite Package: maximum of 1 ticket per screening. Valid for regular screenings only.
  • Day Package and Day Package Lite: maximum of 1 ticket per screening. Valid for regular screenings that start before 5:01 PM only.
Note the term "regular screenings"; this is new for 2009. The main thing to note here is that "premium screenings" are generally the first showing of a film at Roy Thomson Hall or the Visa Screening room. Roy Thomson Hall never has subsequent screenings, but the Visa Screening Room, and those subsequent screenings (may) be deemed regular screenings, which could then be picked in the Advance Order Process. Do not attempt to select premium screenings in your order, as the festival will likely just void that particular choice out and give you a voucher instead.

I don't know yet how these will be indicated in the schedule. I'm asking the festival for clarification on this point, since the book seems to list screenings that might be premium. UPDATE: read the comments at the end of this post for an update from Tess. UPDATE 2: Parabola heard something different from fest staff - see comments below. May be safest at this point to avoid first screenings at the Visa Screening Room until festival can clarify. UPDATE 3: the festival has officially confirmed that the Advance Order Book erroneously contains Premium screenings. If you pick one of these, they will attempt to honour the selection, but note Premium screenings have less advance order tickets available, so if you end up in the latter part of the draw your odds of getting tickets will be smaller (official response can be found here:

You can place all your choices in a single Advance Order Book, regardless of how many passes or packages you bought. If you bought 3 10-ticket Packages, then all 30 1st choices and all 30 2nd choices can go in the same book.

For any tickets that you choose not to use in the advance order process, or any choices that can't be filled because the film is sold out, you will receive vouchers that you can use towards other films with availability. You can do this alternate selection on September 3 when you pick up your completed order, or during the festival itself.

When selecting films, don't forget to account for the following:
  • Films may not start or end on time.
  • Times in the schedule do not include time for Q&A sessions after the film if the director or actors are present.
  • You should account for travel time between theatres, as some are far apart from one another.

Once you have finished picking your films and filling out the Advance Order Book, ensure you fill out the "Ticket Order Form" information at the bottom of page 3 of the Advance Order Book. If you want the festival to call you in the event of any difficulties regardless of the time of day or night, you could place a note on the form, but that's not a guarantee the festival will call. Note they process orders around the clock, so they could call you in the middle of the night if you so note.

Once you have filled out that information, place the completed Advance Order Book in the envelope you received when you picked up your form:

Fill out the "Total Number of Tickets Requested in this order" box at the top right of the envelope. If you have 3 10-film packages, then you would write 30 in this box.

Fill out the contact information on the envelope. If you include an e-mail address, then the festival should notify you by e-mail which of your choices were filled and which were not when they have finished processing your order. If you bought the package for someone else, ensure their name is also included on the form in the spot provided.

Take the Drop Off Voucher that you should have received in the mail a while ago and place it in the envelope window. Do NOT include the Pick Up Voucher; you need to keep that to pick up your completed order starting September 3, 2009 at 7:00 AM at the festival box office.

Do NOT seal the envelope; leave the flap open or tuck it in, but do not seal it.

If you have a Festival or Day Package, then you submit one envelope per Package, even if you filled out multiple order books. If you bought multiple 10-ticket Packages under your name in one order/transaction, then you will submit one envelope for all the packages. Basically, you should have one envelope per Drop Off Voucher that you have.

Drop off the envelope at the festival box office before 1:00 PM on August 31, 2009. If you do not turn in your envelope by 1:00 PM, then you will miss the lottery, and your form will be processed after everyone else's.

The festival staff then spends the time from the 31st to the 2nd processing orders. You can then line up at the festival box office any time from September 3 at 7:00 AM onwards to pick up your completed forms and see what movies you received. Take your Pick Up vouchers with you to exchange them for your processed orders. If you receive an e-mail from the festival saying you got all your choices, then I would recommend that you do NOT show up first thing in the morning, as there will be long wait (Shannon the Movie Moxie spent 6-1/2 hours in line in 2007 to get her orders and make alternate selections). If you didn't receive all your picks, then you should line up in the morning, as you will receive ticket vouchers in place of your missed picks. You can then move to another line to immediately use those vouchers to pick other films that are still available; alternatively, you can wait to use those vouchers during the festival.

Now, why don't you need to speed through getting your Advance Order Book completed as soon as possible? Because the festival has a lottery system to determine from what point they start processing orders. Therefore, there is no inherent benefit to getting your order forms returned early. Here's how the system works:

1. The festival starts with a whole bunch of empty boxes, numbered sequentially.

2. As people turn in their order forms, the forms are placed in the lowest numbered box that has room:

Here we can see completed forms being placed in box #1.

3. Once a box is full, forms are placed in the next available box, in this case box #2:

4. And once that box is full, they move to the next one, in this case box #3:

5. Once all forms have been received by the deadline, the festival has a bunch of filled, numbered boxes:

6. They then randomly draw a number from 1 to whatever the highest number box they have, in this example, 80. The number drawn represents the box number from which the festival starts processing orders. Assume for this example that 33 was the number drawn:

The festival starts processing the forms in box #33. Once they have processed all the forms in the box, they move to the next one in numerical order, in this case #34. They continue until they reach the highest numbered box, here #80. Once they finish with that box, they loop back around to box #1 and start moving upwards, until they reach the box one number before the one drawn (#32). The festival usually sends e-mails out letting you know which of your choices you have gotten.

At this point, all advanced orders have been processed and will be ready for pickup. In this example, if you were lucky enough to be in box #33, you would've gotten all your picks. But if you were in box #32, you probably won't get a lot of your picks. In that case, for each pick that wasn't fulfilled you typically receive a voucher which you can use to select a film from whatever still has tickets available. You can use vouchers coupons any time during the duration of the festival.

Festival patrons that donated at least $250 to the festival get processed before the other boxes mentioned above. And even amongst donors, the ones who contributed more money get priority over other donors.

Just for interest, the graph below gives you an idea of when people submitted their order forms in 2006:

The bulk seemed to drop their forms off in the final three hours or so before the deadline. In 2007, box 66 out of 75 was randomly drawn as the starting point. My friend and I had forms in boxes 21 and 49, and we didn't get only 3 out of the 60 films we selected (but then we didn't pick many big name films).

The next post in this series will talk about some of the different ways people pick the films they want to see, and some considerations around scheduling. The post after that will discuss what you actually do during the festival when you get to your screening, along with options if you couldn't get tickets in advance.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

How Do I Buy Tickets for TIFF 2009? - Part 1

This is the first in a series of posts on how to buy tickets for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). This post provides some tips on how to decide what type of tickets to buy, and when you can buy them.

The flowchart below provides a simplified decision-making process you can use (click the image to see a larger version).

  1. The first question to ask yourself is how many movies you want to see. If you want to see just one or two films, then your best bet is to buy individual tickets when they go on sale on September 4, 2009.
  2. If you want to see 3 or more films, then next question to ask if whether you want to pick the films to see. If you don't want to pick, or you want to see *all* the films in a particular programme (specifically Visa Screening Room galas, Midnight Madness cult films, or Wavelengths avant-garde films), then you can select one of the "Our Programmers Choose" packages. These packages can be bought as of July 6, 2009.

    In these packages you either get tickets to all the showings in a particular programme (e.g. Midnight Madness), or the festival programmers pre-select films for you. The latter type of package is good if you want to see a variety of things but aren't really sure what to pick. Note that some of the packages give you screenings in a particular time period (i.e. weekends or evenings, so you won't get tickets for movies in the middle of the afternoon when you're at work).
  3. If you want to select your own films rather than let the festival pick for you, the next question to ask is how many tickets you need. If you want to see 10 films by yourself, then you need 10 tickets. If you want to see 3 films with a friend, then you need 6 tickets. If you need 10, 15, 25, 30, or 50 tickets, then you can purchase a "You Choose" ticket package. These packages can be bought as of July 6, 2009.

    If you need less than 10 tickets, then you should buy individual tickets when they go on sale September 4, 2009.
  4. If you buy one of the "You Choose" packages, starting August 25, 2009, you will be able to fill out a paper form specifying your movie choices. This form has to be returned to the festival before 1:00 PM on August 31, 2009. After that time, the festival does a draw to determine where they start processing these Advance Orders. You can pick up your tickets starting September 3, 2009 at 7:00 AM.

    Note that you are not guaranteed to get all the movies you specify on an advance order form. If you don't get one of your choices because all the tickets have already been allocated, then you will receive a voucher than you can use from September 3 onward to pick a different film.

    The Advance Order process is a bit complicated to explain, so a future post will explain the process in more detail.
  5. Regardless of how you got your tickets, the festival starts on September 10, 2009. You can continue to buy individual tickets during the festival.

Some commonly asked questions are answered below. This post will be updated with other questions as they arise.

Q: If I'm not guaranteed to get the movies I want in the Advance Order Process with the "You Choose" packages, why should I bother getting it?
A: While you aren't guaranteed to get your choices, you still likely have a better shot at getting them than you do once individual tickets go on sale.

Q: If a screening of a film sells out in the Advance Order Process, does that mean there won't be any individual tickets for it starting on September 4?
A: No, the festival usually does *not* allocate all the seats in a screening to advance orders, they usually save out some to go on sale later.

Q: Where and when can I buy tickets?
A: You can buy tickets any time online at, by phone Monday to Friday 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM at 1-877-968-FILM or 416-968-FILM, or in person at 100 Queen Street West (the white tent on the west side of Nathan Phillips Square) Monday to Sunday 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

Q: How can I pay for tickets?
A: You can pay by cash, debit, or Visa. Note that Visa is the only credit card accepted by the festival, as Visa is a major sponsor.

Q: What time will the movies be screened?
A: It is important to note that festival screens occur all day, from 9:00 AM in the morning until 2:00 AM at night. If you are buying a package, make special note of this. Some packages specify that all the tickets you get will be in the daytime, or in the evening, or on weekends. If it doesn't specify, then assume the screenings could occur at any time. If you aren't taking time off work, then this could be a problem for you.

Q: How many times is a given movie shown?
A: A given movie is shown multiple times during the festival (usually two or more screenings). Note that some films, especially in programmes like Wavelengths, Short Cuts and Mavericks, may air only once, but most feature-length films will have multiple showings.

Q: Can I see a gala film with my package?
A: It depends. A gala film will usually have its first and possibly other screenings at Roy Thomson Hall or the Visa Screening Room. You can only see the screenings in those venues if you either buy individual tickets after September 4, have a Visa Screening Room package, the Double Date Gala package, or the Roy Thomson Hall Closing Night Film and Cocktail package. However, gala films should all have at least one screening not in Roy Thomson Hall or the Visa Screening Room, and those screenings can be selected with the other packages (like the 10-ticket package or the Festival package). But make sure you pick the right screening when you do your advance order form, otherwise the festival will void that choice.

Q: I really want to see this one film, but I couldn't get it in with one of the packages, and it was sold out when individual tickets went on sale. What do I do?
A: If a screening for a film sells out, first see if there are any tickets available at other times for that film. Picking a screening other than the first one, or one that occurs during the day when most people are at work, may yield better results. If you still can't get tickets, try going to the box office at the particular theatre showing the movie, the morning of the day with the desired screening. You may be able to get same-day tickets. If there aren't any of those, you can join the Rush Line outside the theatre. If any ticket holders fail to show, people in the Rush Line get first crack at those tickets.

Q: I live out of town and want to buy tickets.
A: If you live outside of Toronto, you have a few options. 1) Buy individual tickets when you arrive for the festival; 2) buy a "Our Programmers Choose" package; 3) buy a "You Choose" package and also purchase the Out-of-Town Ticket Selection Service. With this service, the festival will courier you the Advance Order form and schedule when they are released, and provide you with a return FedEx envelope to send your order back. Note that out-of-town bloggers report mixed experiences with this service, but there's not much of an alternative.

Q: If I buy multiple Festival Experience packages, are they all guaranteed to get tickets to the same films?
A: No. There are different ticket allotments for these types of packages, so if you order at different times (e.g. days or weeks apart), you may very well end up with different sets of films. However, if you buy all your packages at the same time, you should end up with the same films.

18 New Films Announced

The festival announced another 18 films today.

In the Contemporary World Cinema Programme:

  • Beyond the Circle, from Golam Rabbany Biplob, about a musician from a small village who gets swept up in the city life in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
  • Blessed, from Ana Kokkinos, about seven lost children who wander for a day and a night while their mothers worry at home. Stars Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings), Frances O'Connor (A.I.), and Deborra-Lee Furness (Jindabyne). Interestingly, Otto and O'Connor worked together on Cashmere Mafia, and O'Connor and Furness were both in an episode of Halifax f.p in 1994. Kokkinos was previously at the festival with the somewhat controversial The Book of Revelation.
  • Down for Life, from Alan Jacobs, based on a story in the New York Times about a teenage girl gang leader who tries to escape her life.
  • Giulia Doesn't Date at Night, from Giuseppe Piccioni, about a novelist who asks out his daughter's swimming instructor, only to find out she's under a curfew after being convicted of a crime of passion.
  • Heiran, from Shalizeh Arefpour, about a young Iranian girl who falls in love with an Afghani student, much to the dismay of her family.
  • The House of Branching Love, from Mika Kaurismäki, about a married couple that try and fail to have a clean and civilized divorce.
  • Rabia, from Sebastián Cordero, about a man on the run from the law hiding out in the house in which his girlfriend works as a housekeeper.
  • Sawasdee Bangkok, from Wisit Sasanatieng, Aditya Assarat, Kongdej Jaturanrasmee and Pen-ek Ratanaruang. Each directs a different story set in Bangkok. Sasanatieng was previously at the festival with Citizen Dog (Mah nakorn), Assarat with 3 Friends (Ma-Mee), and Ratanaruang with Invisible Waves.
  • Shameless (Nestyda), from Jan Hrebejk. A comedy about love and marriage and sex inspired by stories from Czech writer Michal Viewegh's book Povídky o manželství a sexu (Tales of Marriage and Sex).
  • Slovenian Girl (Slovenka), from Damjan Kozole, about a girl in university prostituting herself in the classifieds, drawing her into a very dark world.
  • Tanner Hall, the writing and directorial debut of Francesca Gregorini and Tatiana von Furstenberg, about four girls in a New England boarding school. Stars Rooney Mara, Georgia King (Little Dorrit), Brie Larson (United States of Tara), Amy Ferguson, Tom Everett Scott, Chris Kattan, and Amy Sedaris.

In the Visions programme:

  • Between Two Worlds, from Vimukthi Jayasundara, about a young man that flees the city for a small village steeped in legend.
  • Gaia, from Jason Lehel, about a woman left for dead in the desert, who must face her past and take control of her life.
  • Hiroshima, from Pablo Stoll, follows Juan, a singer who works in a bakery by night, of the course of his day.
  • I Am Love (Io sono l'amore), from Luca Guadagnino, stars Tilda Swinton as a woman who has an affair with her son's best friend. Guadagnino did a documentary with Swinton back in 2002 (Tilda Swinton - The Love Factory) as part of The Love Factory series, talking to her about cinema and love.
  • Lebanon, from Samuel Maoz, about a tank crew during the 1982 Lebanon War.
  • To the Sea, from Pedro González-Rubio, about a Mexican man and his half-Italian son who travel to the second-largest coral reef in the world before they part. González-Rubio was previously at the festival with the documentary Toro Negro.
  • Trash Humpers, from Harmony Korine (Gummo), about "a loser-gang cult-freak collective who do antisocial things in a nonnarrative way, except for the song-and-dance numbers".

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Box Office Update

As of August 5, 2009, the following packages are sold out on the festival online box office:

  • Day Package Lite
  • Student Card for Friday, September 11
  • Student Card for Saturday, September 12
  • Student Card for Sunday, September 13
  • Student Card for Friday, September 18
  • Student Card for Saturday, September 19
  • Visa Screening Room 2-Day Package
  • Visa Screening Room Weekend Evening Package
  • Visa Screening Room Mid-Festival Package
  • Double Date Gala Package

Still available:

  • 10-ticket Package *
  • Festival Package *
  • Festival Package Lite *
  • Day Package *
  • Student Card for Monday, September 14 through to Thursday, September 17
  • Sutton 2-Day Package
  • Sutton 3-Day Package
  • 6:00 PM Visa Screening Room Evening Package
  • 9:00 PM Visa Screening Room Evening Package
  • Visa Screening Room 3-Day Package
  • City to City Package
  • Wavelengths Package
  • Midnight Madness Package
  • Globetrotter Weekend/Evening Package
  • Globetrotter Daytime Package
  • Festival Experience Evening/Weekend Package
  • Festival Experience Daytime Package
  • Roy Thomson Hall Closing Night Film and Cocktail

Any of the available packages marked by a * above (the so-called You Choose packages) should be purchased before August 31 at 1:00 PM, as that is the cutoff for submitting orders for the Advance Order Process. All other packages (the Our Programmers Choose packages) can continue to be purchased at any time, since the festival pre-selects films for you.

You do not have to buy a ticket package. Single tickets go on sale as of 7:00 AM on September 4. At that point in time you will be able to purchase tickets for all screenings.

If you need help deciding how you should buy tickets, consider the following:

  • The Our Programmers Choose packages are good if you want to see multiple films, but can't or don't want to go to the trouble of picking the films yourself.
  • The Midnight Madness and Wavelengths packages are good if you are a fan of those particular types of films.
  • The You Choose packages are good if you want to see multiple films and want to see specific ones, or just like the freedom to choose your own. These packages also potentially give you a better chance of seeing popular films, as you get to participate in the Advance Order Process. However, that process is not a guarantee that you will receive everything you ask for. Subsequent posts this month will explain how that process works in more detail.
  • Buying tickets after September 4th is good if you just want to catch the odd film or two when you have the chance, or if you've never been to the festival before and just want to ease your way in.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Canadian Films Announced

The festival issued a torrent of releases today highlighting the Canadian content present at this year's festival, which are summarized below.

In the Canada First! programme:

  • Year of the Carnivore, from Sook-Yin Lee. A romantic dramedy about a girl who decides to get more sexual experience to win the boy of her dreams who thinks she's bad in bed. Lee doesn't act in the film, so unlike previous years with Shortbus and Toronto Stories, we won't see her naked this year (probably much to the relief of her bosses at the CBC).
  • All Fall Down, from Philip Hoffman. A documentary that looks at the last years of Toronto writer George Lachlan Brown.
  • Crackie, from Sherry White. About a woman who dreams of getting out from under her domineering grandmother (Maritime stalwart Mary Walsh).
  • George Ryga’s HUNGRY HILLS from Rob King. Adaptation of the Canadian playwright's (I studied The Ecstasy of Rita Joe in university) 1963 work Hungry Hills, about a Alberta family trying to survive through the Great Depression.
  • Machotaildrop, from Corey Adams and Alex Craig. Follows a teenage skateboarder as he is groomed to be the next big star.
  • The Wild Hunt, from Alexandre Franchi. An ancient ritual conducted in the woods north of Montreal leads to a meeting of reality and fantasy.
Galas include:
  • Chloe, from Atom Egoyan. Julianne Moore plays a doctor who hires a young woman (Amanda Seyfried) to test her husband's (Liam Neeson) fidelity.
  • Cooking with Stella, from Dilip Mehta (brother of Deepa Mehta). About a Canadian diplomat and her husband (Lisa Ray and Don McKellar) who move to New Delhi, and their new cook.
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, from Terry Gilliam. The last film of Heath Ledger, which director Gilliam needed to creatively adjust following Ledger's death, with the help of actors Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law.

In the Special Presentations programme:

  • Cairo Time, from Ruba Nadda. Follows a woman (Patricia Clarkson), who comes to Cairo to be with her husband, but when he is delayed, ends up exploring the city and culture with his friend (Alexander Siddig), and soon finds herself drawn to him.
  • Defendor, from Peter Stebbings. Stars Woody Harrelson as a man who by night becomes superhero Defendor, determined to defend the city against Captain Industry, a criminal he holds responsible for the death of his mother. Also stars Kat Dennings as a prostitute who Defendor befriends along the way.
  • Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel, from Brigitte Berman. A documentary about the founder of Playboy and the battles that he fought along the way.
  • J’ai Tué Ma Mère, from Xavier Dolan, about a teenager and his love/hate relationship with his own mother.
  • The Trotsky, from Jacob Tierney, with Jay Baruchel as a teenager that is the supposed reincarnation of Leon Trotsky.

In the Vanguard programme:

  • Carcasses, from Denis Côté, about an old man living his days out in a junkyard.
  • Leslie, My Name Is Evil, from Reginald Harkema, about a chemist who falls in love with the defendant in a hippie, death-cult murder trial.

In the Real to Reel (documentary) programme:

  • Glenn Gould: The Inner Life, from Peter Raymont and Michele Hozer, about the famous Canadian pianist.
  • Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands, from Peter Mettler, about the Alberta tar sands. Mettler was cinematographer for Jennifer Baichwal's documentary Manufactured Landscapes, about the industrial photography of Edward Burtynsky.
  • Reel Injun, from Neil Diamond, looking at native stereotypes in Hollywood films, with interviews with Wes Studi, Adam Beach and Sacheen Littlefeather.

In Contemporary World Cinema:

  • A Gun to the Head, from Blaine Thurier, about an ex-criminal drawn back to the dark side in one fateful night.
  • Cole, from Carl Bessai, about a man who yearns to escape his small town life through his writing and with another student from his creative writing class.
  • Excited, from Bruce Sweeney (American Venus), a romantic comedy about a man whose quest for the perfect woman is complicated by his mother and his various sexual hangups.
  • High Life, from Gary Yates (Niagara Motel), about two brothers searching for that one last big score.
  • Passenger Side, from Matthew Bissonnette, two brothers discuss their love lives while crusing around Los Angeles.
  • Suck, from Robert Stefaniuk, about a band that suddenly finds success when their bass player falls in with a vampire. With cameos from Alice Cooper, Alex Lifeson from Rush, Moby, Iggy Pop, Carole Pope and Henry Rollins.

In the Masters programme:

  • La Donation, from Bernard Émond (20h17 rue Darling, The Necessities of Life), about a big city doctor who travels to a small town to temporarily relieve its aging doctor and soon faces a choice about her future.

In the Sprockets Family Zone programme:

  • A Shine of Rainbows, from Vic Sarin, set around Ireland and about a woman who helps an young orphan boy.

In Short Cuts Canada, which features short films, the complete listing can be found here:

The festival announced juried awards for Canadian films, including:

  • The City of Toronto and Astral Media's The Movie Network Award for Best Canadian Feature Film (and longest award title), with a cash prize of $30,000.
  • The SKYY Vodka Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film, with a cash prize of $15,000.
  • The Award for Best Canadian Short Film, supported by the NFB, with a cash prize of $10,000 cash prize.

All three awards are selected by a jury consisting of:

  • Jerry Ciccoritti, who's directorial resume reads like a history of modern Canadian TV (everything from Sweating Bullets, to Due South, Nikita, Trudeau, ReGenesis, Lives of the Saints, and Shania: A Life in Eight Albums).
  • Sean Farnel, director of programming for Hot Docs.
  • Kerri Sakamoto, a Canadian novelist (The Electrical Field)
  • Peter Lynch, director of Project Grizzly, as well as Cyberman.

The short film jury members are:

  • Director, cinematographer and editor Shane Smith (The Countdown).
  • Producer Ingrid Veninger.
  • Screenwriter Shane Belcourt.

The Canadian Open Vault, which features classic Canadian films, this year is screening:

  • William Beaudine’s Sparrows, with Mary Pickford.
  • A new print of Atom Egoyan’s The Adjuster.

There will be special events during the festival to tie into Toronto's 175th anniversary as a city.

To summarize, not counting the Open Vault presentations, this year the festival will have 27 Canadian features (up from 25 last year), and 41 Canadian short films (up from 38 last year).

Closing Gala Announced

The festival announced today that The Young Victoria, from French-Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée (who was previously at the festival with his film C.R.A.Z.Y.), will be the closing film of the festival. With a script from Julian Fellowes (who won the Oscar for best original screenplay for Gosford Park in 2002), The Young Victoria is about the early years of Queen Victoria's reign. The movie stars Emily Blunt as Queen Victoria, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany (who will be opening the festival with the film Creation), Miranda Richardson, and Jim Broadbent, and amongst its co-producers counts Martin Scorsese and Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York.

In addition to normal tickets, there is a special ticket package available for the Closing gala. The
Roy Thomson Hall Closing Night Film and Cocktail package is $180.25 per person (no discounts for students or seniors) and includes a ticket for the film as well as an after party. However, note that it is balcony seating, and there is no guarantee of celebrity attendance (I'm assuming that technically covers both the film and the after party, but more so the latter).

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.
Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites