Stewart in Equals

Merry TIFF-mas!

A whole year of anticipation and two busy months of announcements have all led to this. The parties are in full-flight, the hotels are booked-up, and every neck in the city is craning for a glimpse of someone famous.

There are so many different ways to approach this event depending on what one wants to get out of it. For some it’s a social event…for some it’s a moment to collect autographs and photographs…for some it’s a professional conference…and for a lot of us, it’s a way to soak up a lot of great cinema in one quick dose.

No matter whether you’re a Toronto resident partaking in the craziness, or a traveller who has come into town especially for the event, your first festival or your twenty-first…it’s easy to lose sight of the ball.

So allow me a moment or two to give a few seemingly obvious, but certainly handy tips to getting the most out of your festival experience.



Get On Social Media…

If there’s one thing that’s been amazing to see over the years of going to the festival, it’s the rising tide that social media has played in interacting with the festival itself, the talent in town, and other festival-goers. Talking-up unexpected moments of joy, spreading the word about snafu’s and hiccups, and even making new friends has never been easier thanks to the amount of power contained in one little gizmo so many of us carry in our pocket. So get on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and such, share your festival experience, look around at what’s going-on elsewhere, and maybe make a new friend or two.

That said…

Know When to Get Off Social Media…

Waiting in line solo, or sitting alone waiting for a screening to start can be a boring experience, and unfortunately it’s a healthy chunk of what we’re all in for over the eleven days ahead. During such moments, the temptation is sky-high to take out your electronic do-dad and surf around. Instead, let me suggest something novel;

Talk to other people!

The people around you in line, the people around you getting coffee, the people around you waiting for the screening to start. You have at least ONE THING in common, and you can use that to get tips on everything from what to see to where to eat. Play your cards just right, and you might make yourself a new friend or two…or even land yourself a date!

Pack Wisely…

There’s a lot of things that come in handy this time of year that are well worth throwing in your bag.  Bottled water, snacks, kleenex, sunscreen (yes, really), collapsible umbrellas, a light sweater, a pen and paper, extra cables, extra memory cards, various chargers. TIFF venues are well within striking distance of shops that supply such things, but one often doesn’t have a whole lot of time when they are going to and fro about the festival.

Better to be a boy scout and be prepared.



Be Flexible…

Heard nothing but bad things about a film you have a ticket for? Consider exchanging it for something else. Heard raves about a film that you can easily add to your slate? Pick it up. Not feeling so good, but still holding a ticket to a film later that night? Give it away. There’s no blue ribbons for tearing all of your tickets…no life achievement unlocked for seeing more than anyone else. Mixing things up, adding and subtracting from your schedule are all part of maximizing your enjoyment.

Eat Something!

Food can become a bit of an afterthought during these sorts of events, especially when facing off against a jam-packed schedule. Skipping meals is a real shame, especially considering the wealth of great food this city has to offer. So remember to stay fuelled and to do so in ways that don’t always involve the words “venti”, “slice”, or “pint”.

Remember That They’re Just Movies…

I’ve seen people sprout grey hairs trying to cobble together a schedule. I’ve watched double-barrel arguments begin over who was ahead of who in a box office line. I’ve watched people pay six times the face value of a ticket for a gala premiere. Don’t get me wrong – TIFF is a blast, but at the end of the day they’re just movies. These little trifles will all see the light of day sooner or later, and none of it is worth stressing over, fighting over, or risking physical harm.

Movies are wonderful things, and a great way to spend one’s time and money…but they’re supposed to be fun, and if they become the source of stress, anger, and risk that’s nobody’s idea of “fun”