TIFF Week: Festival Tips


It's TIFF time. Let's just cut to the chase and not pad out some stuff you may find vital. Here are some last minute tips.


1. Show up early enough for your screening
Ten minutes before showtime means any empty seats are up for grabs for rush line enthusiasts to purchase, since full houses are preferred for premieres and early screenings. Don't be one of those people thinking you'll be guaranteed to get into a film with a few minutes to spare. It's a game of chicken you're not willing to have. Get there early enough (I recommend at least an hour, and even that's really late; I suggest an hour and a half before showtime for the best seats if the screening is general admission).


2. Enjoy festival walk
There's going to be food trucks galore, plus all sorts of sponsored fun (previous years include virtual reality activities, free gadgets like phone accessories and devices, and more). If you're going to TIFF for the first time, you may as well see what it's all about. Plus, isn't it nice to walk on King street without any form of traffic tor a few blocks? It's a stunning luxury.


3. Keep Sunday the 15th open
The People's Choice Award at TIFF (voted by the public, meaning you!) guarantees the winning film to be played on the final day of festival (with a handful of screenings). Tickets are free. Yes. Free. This award almost guarantees that these films will be nominated for Best Picture, and a good chunk of these winners have actually won the coveted prize (Slumdog Millionaire, Green Book, 12 Years a Slave, The King's Speech, and American Beauty). You still need to get a ticket, though. Tickets go on sale 8 AM that morning (Sunday, September 15th), and you will also only find out the winner this morning as well. Grab your tickets (only up to four to a customer), and check out what could be the next Best Picture winner. For. Free.


4. Check out a Wavelengths screening or two
Named after the Michael Snow film, Wavelengths screenings are usually avant garde experiments (expect large amounts of artistic creativity here). For something truly left field and eye opening, you're guaranteed to question what films even are for a short period after one of these screenings. Just know what you're up for, and you're going to have your favourite hobby broken right in front of you. It's invigorating stuff.


5. Pre-film traditions
If you go to a few screenings this festival, you will come across some annual staples that will never get old (until film five, but you’ll be happy to hear them again next year, don’t you worry). These include the slow clap during L’Oreal’s advertisements (I’m not entirely sure what this ritual is all about), and the yelling of pirate “yarrrrs” during the anti-piracy screen (this will never end). The most important is the applause given during the volunteer clip; it’s a nice way to show gratitude to the hundreds of people trying to help during TIFF simply because they love movies. Aside from these exceptions, please don’t talk during the films. Also, there aren’t any film trailers, so these advertisements and clips don’t last very long.


6. Please treat volunteers nicely
On the note of volunteers, I cannot stress enough that I’ve seen enough of them get mistreated. This is completely unacceptable. I get that you could be stressed out about your seats, tickets, and other high stakes issues. However, these are volunteers simply trying their best. In fact, I’d say you should go out of your way to greet them and even thank them if they help you out. They’re all wearing bright orange shirts. You can’t miss them. It’ll make their day if you treat them well.


7. Box office ticket swapping
Finally, if you need to swap your tickets to try another screening, just do this through TIFF’s festival box office (either over the phone or in person, at the TIFF Bell Lightbox). Now that the dust has settled, hopping from one film to another on-sale film should be a breeze. Make sure the film you’re trying to get into has availability, too.

That’s about it. Enjoy TIFF!

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Andreas Babiolakis has a Masters degree in Film and Photography Preservation and Collections management from Ryerson University, as well as a Bachelors degree in Cinema Studies from York University. His favourite times of year are the Criterion Collection flash sales and the annual Toronto International Film Festival.