By William Wolf


Reflecting on this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, I found that it was one of the best and most dynamic. For one thing, there was a feast of quality films in the huge roster (See reviews in Special Reports). They were intriguing films of all types and from a variety of countries. It helps that with the international reputation of the Festival at so high a level, the opportunities to obtain films are strong. It is a mark of distinction for a film to be promoted as having been at TIFF.

Of course, from the viewpoint of a critic or journalist covering the Festival, the task is formidable. The best one can do is to choose as carefully as possible in line with what seems most important or most pleasurable according to individual taste. What one finds is that various choices come up against each other. Sometimes there are additional screenings that help with the juggling, but there is frustration at constantly having to make choices.

In addition, there are the press conferences, and to attend one usually means to forgo a film of choice. A solution? Not likely in view of the plethora of films showcased and welcome press conferences scheduled. But it is this embarrassment of riches that helps make the Festival the wonderful movie-going treasure trove that it is.

The shift to downtown Toronto, in full swing this second year, has had a profound impact. While I miss the Bloor Street activity, the way everything is concentrated in the new area has worked very well and befits the Festival’s growth. It is most convenient going to screenings at the Scotiabank multiplex on Richmond Street West. The theaters are spacious, the screens large. One can remain on the premises for drinks and snacks.

It also has the advantage of being close to the new TIFF Lightbox, which also has excellent screening rooms, as well as dining facilities. It is very close the Festival’s space at the Hyatt Hotel, where there is a center for getting information or using the banks of computers. A number of restaurants are right in the area, which makes it possible to stay in the vicinity between screenings and press conferences.

As for getting into the screenings with a press or industry pass, it is easy. Even where there was priority seating, I did not miss admission into any films of my choice with my practice of lining up about 20 minutes before the start.

The Festival is convenient to good hotel accommodations. I stay at the Hilton on Richmond, large and comfortable and just a few blocks from the Scotiabank complex. The Hilton Garden Inn, also nearby, is also convenient, but smaller and generally taken by guests of the Festival.

For those doing the red carpet bit, special arrangements are made for coverage. It is kind of a madhouse before show time, but the Festival has the events well managed, as is the case with the press conferences.

What would a Festival be without the parties? The various movie companies stage promotional parties around town, and they keep the nightlife hopping.

One of the amazing accomplishments of the Festival, this year as in the past, is the ability to amass an army of volunteers. They are by and large courteous, helpful and enthusiastic. I’ve talked to a few from time to time and they feel it is their chance to be part of one of Toronto’s foremost annual events and also to get to see some of the movies.

As for the general public, it is the time of year for which many wait. Film enthusiasts take advantage of the opportunity and pack the various cinemas about town when they can see the latest, in some cases the high profile films, and in other instances the more unusual films not likely to get public distribution even though they may be special finds. They also get a chance to see the famous (see Celebrity Destination in Special Reports).

No doubt about it—TIFF continues to be special.


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