Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My TIFF Experience

On Sunday, Todd and I went to TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival for the very first time. It's sad, really, that we've never ventured there before. I always had the impression that tickets would be expensive and difficult to get and that it would be worthwhile only for serious art film aficionados or celebrity chasers, but I was wrong on both counts.

We left early on Sunday morning and arrived in Toronto in time to pick up our tickets and line up for our first movie, Up in the Air, at the Elgin Theatre. There's Todd, in the photo above, with the much needed Starbucks latte. We got in line an hour ahead of time, and already the line was several city blocks long, but the wait was worthwhile, as we did get good seats together.

It was a great experience to see a movie at the beautiful Elgin, the ceiling of which is shown in the photo above. Up in the Air, directed by Jason Reitman (of Juno fame) was superb. I loved everything about it: the acting, the story, the humour, the cinematography. It's definitely Oscar material. All these years, I've never really understood the George Clooney love, but in this film, he is fabulous.

After lunch and ale at Les 3 Brasseurs, which these Torontonians insist on calling The 3 Brewers, we returned to an even longer line-up in front of the Elgin to wait for The Joneses. This movie, directed by Derek Borte, shows consumerism taken to an extreme. Unlike Up in the Air, The Joneses was merely good, not great, but it was still entertaining and thought-provoking. A bonus was the fact that this event was the world premiere and consequently featured celebrities walking the red carpet. The director, joined by various members of the cast including David Duchovny and Demi Moore, appeared on stage after the screening for a short Q&A session.

So was it worth it to travel to Toronto, stand in lines for hours and pay twice a normal movie-ticket price to see films that will be available everywhere in a few months anyhow? Definitely yes! There is something thrilling about seeing a film for the first time with 1500 other enthusiastic people. The other filmgoers we met in line were generally friendly, polite and well-informed (typical Canadians, I'd like to think). Though we weren't all that concerned about spotting celebrities, we were impressed when one fellow sitting next to us said he saw Penelope Cruz the day before. A couple of minutes later, his friend passed by in the aisle and told him that she just saw Geddy Lee from Rush, prompting Todd to say, "Wow, I'd rather see Geddy Lee than Penelope Cruz anyday!" I have no doubt that statement was said with complete sincerity.

All in all, it was a terrific day, and next year, I'll have to figure out how to abandon kids and work for a much more substantial TIFF experience.

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