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Taking a Break from Reviews: A TIFF Overview

Well, I got almost halfway through my reviews before getting home. That's not too bad. Once the parties started later in the week, I just couldn't carve the time our of my sleep schedule to blog. Sorry about that. I will continue with the reviews tomorrow, but I thought now would be a good time to take a break and talk a little about the TIFF experience as a whole.

Beth, Chris, and I had a morning flight on Friday, September 7, and were driven to the airport by my incredibly generous husband (who would be flying Toronto the following Tuesday). While waiting for our flight to depart Chris chatted with Elizabeth Taylor-Mead, with whom he works at the Coolidge Corner Foundation, and we had a nice conversation with Scot Heller, Arts & Film Editor for the Boston Globe. Upon boarding, I found that I was seated next to Elizabeth, and we chatted a bit about bringing groups to Toronto. She brings several Chlotrudis Board members, and I organize the Chlotrudis members, of which there were a total of 14 traveling to Toronto this year. The flight was quick and uneventful, and we arrived in Toronto eager to start the film festival activities.

We shared a cab with Scott Heller, which was a nice opportunity to catch up with him as it had been a while since we last chatted. I found out that Leighton Klein had left the Globe (which I was sad to hear; Leighton was fun to e chat with a consulate parties.) It was also a good opportunity to remind Scott what Chlotrudis was up to lately.

We checked into the Madison Manor Boutique Hotel, located in the Annex, near Bloor and Spadina. Chris and I would be roomies until he left and Scot arrived on Tuesday. Then I would be upgrading to a suite with Scottie. Our room was nice enough, and the hotel staff was very helpful. Things were promising. Next order of business... the box office.

As is always the case, the first day of TIFF is always the most stressful for those of us who do not spend the money on the lottery system for advanced tickets. Upon arriving at the box office at College Park, Beth, Chris and I got in line (see Beth on the left and Chris on the right) and settled in for what we felt sure would be a disappointing showing. Here is where you try to get as many tickets as possible for the films you want to see. The line didn't move all that quickly, and once we reached the ticket counter, we each got anywhere from a third to about half of the tickets we wanted. This was fine with us, since we knew we would be getting the tickets we needed each day in the morning, and too many tickets would mean a lot of exchanging (I always change my mind many times throughout the festival regarding which films I wanted to see.) Unfortunately, our time at the box office ate up more time than we'd hoped, and we barely had enough time to grab some fast food before Chris and I met Bruce for our first film.

The early morning ritual at the box office is something that many people don't understand. They wonder how I could possibly enjoy doing this, and to tell you the truth, I'm not sure what the answer is to that. It's true, the festival is exhausting, and getting up between 5 and 5:30 a.m. in order to get to the box office by 6 a.m. at the latest seems masochistic, but for me, it's all part of the festival experience. Despite late nights, including one night out until after 2 a.m., I got to the festival box office at the Manulife Center before 6 a.m. four out of my eight days in Toronto in order to get tickets for myself and any other Chlotrudis members who needed them. (Thanks to Beth for handling the fifth day, and to Scot for accompanying me on Wednesday). This year we had a perfect record, getting all the "sold-out" tickets we needed at the box office on the day-of. (The picture at left shows a piece of the line-up around 6:45 a.m. at the Manulife Center. The box office opens at 7 a.m.)

We spent a lot of time in the Toronto subways, run by the Toronto Transit Commission. With the Spadina stop directly behind the hotel, we were just steps away from quick, efficient transportation all over the city, and to all of the movie venues. The Toronto subways run frequently and smoothly. They are relatively clean, with wider cars. The one complaint I have about the subway system is their Sunday schedule where trains do not begin running until 9 a.m.! Here's a shot of one of the subway stops after just missing a departing train.

One last word on the opening promotional trailers that precede every film. These have often been the topic of much discussion in the past, and quickly wear thin by the end of the week after multiple viewings. I've gotta say, and all you other film festivals should take note, despite the presence of half a dozen or so of these promos, they were kept extremely short. This was a definite plus. Additionally, the main promo, the one advertising the Bell Lightbox, future home of the Toronto International Film Festival, featured music from Feist's "I Feel it All." This was a good way to keep some positivity around that promo (which otherwise was pretty poor... except for its brevity). Feist is great, and she's Canadian! Take a look...