Another year, another TIFF. The first movie I ever saw at the Toronto International Festival was Juno in 2007. It was the only film I saw that year, and my friend and I chose it completely on a whim, not knowing anything about it until we got to a wifi hotspot to check it out. The next year, 2008, I saw ten films, including Synecdoche, New York and Slumdog Millionaire. Each year since, I’ve pretty much gone “full TIFF” and seen as many films as I could fit in. This year, 2012, I broke my record from 2009 for the number of films I watched. It was also the most exhausting year of TIFF for me, not only because of the number of films, but because I squeezed that higher number into fewer days.
Seeing so many films in so few days has its advantages and disadvantages. The most obvious are the disadvantages. I’m sure anyone who has seriously done a film festival has been subsequently asked by others, “can you even remember all the films you watch?” Well, yes. Yes, I can. But there is a kernel of truth to the question/accusation. Ask me which films I saw at TIFF’12 and I’m going to start drawing blanks. Remind me of a specific film and it’ll all come back to me, but when I consider them all in a group it’s difficult to separate one from the other. The other major disadvantage is the exhaustion. Watching twenty or thirty or fifty films in a little over a week sometimes sounds to people like an easy vacation. Sit back, in the dark, watch movies. Only, at a festival you aren’t usually there to watch films passively. The mind is constantly working and processing and that’s tiring, especially when hours get thrown out of whack and it becomes so hard to find time for a meal that you sometimes forget to eat at all. Watching a silly movie like Ghost Graduation might be okay when you’re exhausted, but what about when it’s a new Terrence Malick film? Was my reaction to that film too heavily influenced by the fact that I’d rather have been sleeping? It’s hard to say.
Still, the advantages are there. Seeing films with like-minded people is one of the best things about the experience. For the most part, the people who come to a movie at the festival WANT to be watching a movie at the festival. These aren’t the chatters or texters or other sorts of assholes who regular ruin the moviegoing experience. At TIFF, generally, it’s an appreciative audience of fellow film lovers. They’re respectful to the films and to the people around them. There’s also something to be said for being in a cinematic state of mind. Normally, throughout the year, I intersperse movies amongst all sorts of other things. During the festival it’s all movies all the time. My brain is set to movie-mode. That’s what I’m built to think about and process and enjoy. I could never do that year round, but for about eleven days per year it certainly works. And none of that touches on the chance to see films that either may never be released or may be months or years away from coming out. I saw The Loved Ones at Midnight Madness back in 2009, and it only got a release in the US this Summer, and is finally coming out on DVD here this month.
But enough thoughts about film festivals in general; let’s talk TIFF’12! CLick to read more.