Each September, Toronto goes entirely movie mad (not to mention star crazy) as TIFF calls “action” on the country’s biggest celebration of cinema. BY CRAIG MOY
I’ve always had a bit of a conflicted relationship with the Toronto International Film Festival.
Mainly: I’m not particularly fond of crowds, and TIFF definitely attracts an abundance of people, all clamouring to catch a glimpse of visiting celebrities and score tickets to the buzziest new movies. Then again, those movies are the upside for me, the other side of the coin. I love movies, and the festival has them in spades. This year’s lineup boasts more than 200 films, many of which are world or North American premieres, representing everything from awards-season prestige pictures to timely and compelling documentaries to debuts by emerging Canadian directors to insane though crowd-pleasing thrillers and action flicks.
[Check out some of our most-anticipated TIFF 2014 offerings in the gallery below.]
And the experience of actually watching these films on the big screen can’t be beat: cinemas in the TIFF Bell Lightbox boast state-of-the-art picture and sound, while the festival’s satellite spaces—like Roy Thomson Hall and the Elgin Theatre—are among Toronto’s best-appointed venues for seeing any type of performance.
These large theatres do, of course, seat large audiences, thereby mitigating the crush of crowds. The Entertainment District, too, has been evolving to even better accommodate festival attendees, especially when it comes to dining and drinking options. The past year has seen the opening of many new TIFF-proximal eateries, including upscale Middle-terranean restaurant Byblos, stylish robata bar Shibui and Susur Lee’s designer dim sum joint, Luckee.
Nor are the parties (always a major deal during TIFF) too far away: the Lightbox’s own event space, Malaparte, reliably hosts a few big bashes, as do foremost socializing spots like Soho House, the Spoke Club and the Thompson Hotel’s rooftop lounge.
But if you’re like me, your allegiance is to the films, not necessarily the celebrities who appear in them. And while it’s definitely fun to attend a premiere or two (you haven’t really done TIFF until you’ve been to a few galas), you’ll have a better chance of scoring seats to second or third screenings, which occur later in the week. Fret not if you find yourself waiting in a few rush-ticket lines. Instead, make the most of your time by striking up a conversation with like-minded moviegoers. After all, there’s no event in the world that assembles such a diverse audience—rabid genre fans, prestige-picture prognosticators, aficionados of the avant-garde, star spotters and many, many others—to share in a singular passion: the magic of the cinema.
All photos courtesy of TIFF
The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 4 to 14 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox and other theatres around the city. Single tickets are $18 to $46; call 416-599-8433 or visit tiff.net for more information.