Gyllenhaal in Nocturnal Animals


If you’ve visited this site during late summer in past years, you’ll know that it’s right around now that I tend to start getting giddy at the meagre amount of days left before The Toronto International Film Festival. Likewise, if you’ve visited this site over the last few weeks of this summer, you might have noticed a conspicuous absence of TIFF updates and wondered what gives.

What gives is a change in the usual game plan, and I thought now was as good a time as any to let readers in.

I attended my first TIFF in the autumn of 2001, and from that year to this I have gone and enjoyed myself for sixteen joyous Septembers. My schedule tends to clock in between twenty and thirty films…perhaps a free event or two…and ever since 2008, and especially 2012, included a huge social aspect in hanging out with friends foreign and domestic.

However, there’s a price to be paid for all of this cinematic fun and games. Besides buying myself a pass, there’s also time taken away from my job (like so many others, I am not paid to write about film…wonderful as that would be). Now and then, the price isn’t right.

For instance, in 2009, I believed – rightly, I’d still say – that time and money would be better spent on getting married six weeks after TIFF ended. The result was the year that I went to one screening only. This year, time has come again to do something different with my autumn*, though happily this time, I have a teeny bit more cash and time to my name, so TIFF doesn’t have to be a one-night-stand.

(*more on the autumn plans in a few weeks)

So this year, TIFF has been scaled back for me. Instead of my usual twenty-to-thirty screenings, I’m angling to see ten. Only ten ticketed events from the main programme. Beyond that, I am hoping to fill in some blanks with a handful of free events, be they Cinematheque screenings, live events, and hopefully, The People’s Choice Award screening on the final night.

This will be somewhat painful and a little tricky, especially with taking only a few days off from the office. It will be a bit thorny not being able to keep up with the conversation, and especially bogus not getting to hang with my out-of-town friends as much as I’d like…but the second “TIFF Light” in sixteen years will not kill me.

The trick though, will be what to use those ten precious ducats on. Scheduling a slate when there are no-holds-barred is difficult at the best of times; doing so without the luxury of no work for ten days will be more than difficult.

But in that difficulty comes a simple beauty:

More than any other year, I know I “can’t see everything”, and the odds I can cobble together a definitive top ten are just as tricky. So what will we do? We will think outside of the box. The thought is that I’ll dedicate the ten screenings to a criteria…ten foreign films perhaps, or ten films by first-time directors. I haven’t settled on that just yet, but it makes it easier to discount the new film by Villeneuve, Guest, Ford, and Mallick by saying to myself “Well, they don’t fit into my criteria”

Next year, back to a proper portion…but this year, we’re counting calories.

I’d bet good money that I won’t be able to do a whole week off and twenty-plus screenings every fall, so in a way, this is good. If you’ll be in town, do know that I’ll still be around for pub nights and other such shenanigans. If you’re following at home, do look forward to plenty of posts, podcasts, photos and such from TIFF 2016…though a wee bit less than usual.