Allow me, if you will, to say a few words about my festival companion: my wife Kim. Like all our vacations, this couldn’t have happened without her, as she did the heavy lifting in terms of planning (when we actually get on vacation, the roles tend to reverse, with me doing the day-to-day planning. I guess she’s the long-term thinker of the relationship). We both enjoy movies, they’re one of our primary activities, but I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn when I say that I’m more into them than she is, and thus this vacation is more geared toward my interests than hers. When I first proposed it, I had to sell her a bit on TIFF with the promise of celebrities (of which we’ve seen a few, but not the ones I suggested we’d see) and the idea that we’d do a few more things in the area besides just going to movies all day (which, other than the Blue Jays game to start the trip, was a bald-faced lie. And again, a baseball game is more my idea of fun than hers).
Despite that, she’s embraced this vacation and its manic scheduling in full. There’s been the odd hiccup, and a few bad movies, but as a whole, it’s been great. I’ve had a great time sharing this with her (as we always have a great time sharing experiences with one another), and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. She’s also been a big trooper in tolerating/helping me stay on top of this blog (which has been another fun element of the vacation for me), letting me type away while we wait for movies (while she watches movies on her iPod), allowing me to stay up and write instead of insisting that I go to bed with her, and even at times getting the laptop ready for me while I went to use the restroom. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.
But tonight, we decided to take a break from the hectic scheduling and take a night for ourselves, skipping our screening for American Swing when we didn’t feel like getting up from our nap in time to make it. Instead, we enjoyed a nice dinner at a place called The Corner, which was probably more memorable than the 26th movie of 29 (we’ll now be down to 28).
Now that we’ve been at this for four days, we’re settling into the routine pretty well. We wake up and have a little something to eat at the hotel (since we have a kitchen in our room), then head out to the first screening. When we have back-to-back screenings (which are generally separated by an hour), we’ll grab something portable for lunch/dinner and eat it in line for the next screening. At some point, we’ll have time to come back to our hotel for a nap (or simply relaxing while still being awake), then head out to the final screening (taking the subway to each location, as we’re right on the line and most of the theatres are as well).
But there’s also a routine to the screenings themselves, which is of more interest to you, the reader. We’re generally seated 20 minutes or so before the film is due to begin (today I’ve been using that time to write this stuff on my laptop… like I’m doing right now, whereas previously the laptop stayed at home while Kim and I played Scrabble on our iPods). The films never start on time, as they want to give enough time to sell tickets to people in the rush line. Then the festival programmer comes out to introduce the film, thank the sponsors, tell us to turn off electronic devices, and introduce the director/producer who is in attendance (every screening thus far besides Passchendaele has had a representative, generally the director, except in the case of the multi-director effort covered below). The director gives a short intro to the film, and if it’s a premiere, will also introduce the cast in attendance. They then sit down (or leave if they’re not sticking around), the lights dim, and the anti-piracy message comes on screen (to which those in the audience in the know reply “Arrrr”). We get a Bell Lightbox ad (that’s the new festival location that they’re building), then a Universal NBC message thanking the festival volunteers (for whom we in the audience applaud), an annoying Motorolla ad I’m more than tired of, and a Cadillac people’s choice award ad I’m also tired of (but less so than the Moto one), and the film begins.
If it’s a premiere, the toadies in the reserved seats will applaud for the studio/distributor banners of whomever they work for. Generally, the audience will applaud for anyone mentioned in the credits who was announced to be in attendance (whereas toadies will also applaud for people like the DP or others mentioned in the credits that we don’t know). When the film is over, there’s more applause (maybe even a standing O, generally induced by the toadies), and a short Q&A. If Kim and I have another screening to get to, or didn’t particularly like the film, we don’t stick around for that (which is why at TIFF, aisle seats are king. We’re sitting at the aisle right now, in two seats separated from the rest of the row. These may be my favourite seats yet). As we leave the screening, we hand off our ballots for the People’s Choice Award, rinse, repeat.
Read on for musings on New York, I Love You, Ashes of Time Redux, and Plastic City… Continue reading →