Sunday, September 19, 2010

TIFF 2010 Festival Wrap-Up

Well, another festival done for the year. I was up slightly from last year, with 26 films or discussions, totalling 44 hours, 1 minute.

Things that worked well:

  • As always, the volunteers did a great job, and there was an occasion or two I watched them have to put up with crap from festival goers. But in general everyone was appreciative of the effort, as evidenced by the applause during the volunteer trailer, as soon as the cloud of names appeared.
  • Ended up using again this year to actually schedule my movies, and it continues to work well.
  • I liked the RBC trailers again this year (especially the guys wondering where they were going to get the 50k to save their store), but there were too few of them to last for an 11-day festival.
  • No problems with the advance order book this year, and it was good that premium screenings were so-marked in the official film schedule.
  • Luckily I made it through the entire festival without someone asking a meandering question in the Q&A (or worse yet, not asking one at all!)
  • The TIFF Bell Lightbox is a nice building. Free wi-fi, good food, cheaper concession prices, nice theatres (seating and sound), good location, permanent gift shop. And they'll be showing not only their normal year-round programming, but also the commercial runs of smaller festival-type films like Trigger.

Things that could use improvement:

  • The online box office seemed particularly bad this year, and they quickly abandoned the "shopping cart" in favour of the old-style single page for all the movies for purchasing tickets. Part of the problem is everyone has to go through the main, media-rich site for the TIFF organization to get to the film schedule, and then each film page is also filled with media and auto-playing slideshows and videos. Great most of the time, but not when thousands of people are hammering your site. They should probably consider a cloud-based solution (Amazon, Windows Azure) to scale up the website on the first day of general ticket sales. But then who knows if their old MaxWeb ticketing back-end could process orders fast enough?
  • There seemed to be an abnormally high number of technical and projection issues this year. For me, Film Socialisme at the Ryerson had no subtitles, and Dhobi Ghat was delayed 3 hours. More embarrassingly still, the gala for Little White Lies had to be moved from Roy Thomson Hall to the Scotiabank because the new digital projector couldn't do the subtitles, and the premiere of Cave of Forgotten Dreams had a projector issue a few minutes before the end, with Werner Herzog in the audience.
  • Downsides of the Lightbox: the theatre entrances seem a bit tight compared to the AMC or the Scotiabank, and they've got artifacts on display inside the theatre entrances where you're never going to see it (it's too dark, and you're usually in a rush to get in or out). And what's up with the men's bathroom on the second (or should that be second-and-a-half) floor? Everyone I saw was surprised by the stairwell you had to hike up, and there's only two stalls. Plus, there didn't seem to always be enough room to hold the lines for the theatres inside the building.
  • I may complain about the Lightbox, but really, it is nice to have the building complete and available year-round to foster film in the city, and it's great the festival now has a permanent home.
  • The general consensus between veteran festival-goers was that the number of screenings available during the early morning during the week were reduced from previous years, making it difficult to make use of some of the packages (like the 50-pack or the daytime pack). Not sure if that was due to the availability of theatres, impact of press/industry screenings, or just a philosophical change.

Miscellaneous notes:

Overall, was pretty happy with the films I saw this year. My favourites below, from those films that I saw:

  • Favourite Film: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, because it was so unexpected, and was well-paced, well-written, and well-acted.
  • Best Canadian film: Tossup for me between Bruce McDonald's Trigger and Xavier Dolan's Heartbeats.
  • Best drama: I liked Kiran Rao's Dhobi Ghat, Trigger, and Heartbeats.
  • Best action film: Takeshi Miike's 13 Assassins.
  • Funniest film: The Trip
  • Best documentary: Tossup between Cave of Forgotten Dreams and Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie. Tabloid and Inside Job were pretty good, too.
  • WTF?! Award: Film Socialisme, and I don't think the subtitles would have actually helped any.
  • Screening with the most celebrity wattage: The Way, which had both Martin Sheen (fresh from walking the picket lines outside his hotel) and Emilio Estevez.
  • Director I enjoyed seeing the most: Werner Herzog edges out Errol Morris.

I hope to post other reviews and Q&A transcripts in the immediate future (although I say that every year and never get around to it). Hopefully people found this blog useful again this year, and with any luck I will be back again next TIFF with more ticketing tips, reviews, and Q&As. Thanks for reading this year!


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