Toronto International Film festival tips

I learnt a lot as a first-time, non-media-pass Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) attendee so here are 21 (and possibly more) tips.

  • Don’t see the movie if the movie is going to open in a month unless you really, really want to (see The Fifth Estate). The rush to buy tickets and the rush line isn’t worth it.
  • Don’t buy a Toronto International Film Festival ticket package unless you are a TIFF member or are planning to take the 11 days off. The risk of getting a bad selection time is too great and you will end up with vouchers that must be used before the end of the festival.
  • Do buy single tickets which are available at 7 a.m. on the day, at the box office or do the rush line.
  • Get to the rush line at least two hours before the start of a big movie.
  • Get to the rush line at least 90 minutes before the start of a small movie.
  • Know that there is always a risk that you will not get into a movie if you rush.
  • Always ask the volunteers the status of the movie you want to see. Some might be on rush, some might still have tickets available.

The Fifth Estate

  • Bring cash. People will walk the line selling their tickets. That’s how we got into the Fifth Estate.
  • Chat with the people in line. You’ll find out about great small films and documentaries.
  • Choose the number of movies you want to see based on your schedule. If you’re taking time off, then do 30 or more. If not, consider limiting it to ten.
  • You will get very tired if you work full-time and see movies every night.
  • Even if you bought tickets, you will wait in line. Make sure your phone is fully charged or bring a book.
  • Adventurous? Ask the volunteers which movie has extra tickets available and hasn’t gone on rush. Go see that one. You won’t wait in line and you’ll see something that could be interesting.
  • It’s faster to walk from theatre to theatre than to take public transit.
  • Bring something to sign if you collect autographs. There’s always a chance your favourite actor might show up.
  • Stay for the Q&As. The cast and crew are always happy to chat about the process.
The cast of The Stag

The cast of The Stag

  • Most of the official TIFF twitter accounts broadcast during the festival. They usually won’t interact with you unless you’re part of the movie industry or possibly media. Do follow them to find out when tickets are available for off-sale movies.
  • The festival runs sponsors’ ads before each movie. You will see the same ad for every single movie. It will annoy you after the fourth time.
  • Clap for the volunteer ad. The ad itself will be dumb but the volunteers do deserve it.
  • The “arrgh!” you hear during the anti-piracy ad? Well, pirates. If you’re feeling creative, shout something else.
  • TURN OFF YOUR PHONES! You are not media. They have press viewings where they can do that. You also don’t need to check your Instagram. If you’re bored, leave the theatre.

Diane, who has been documenting her experience on her blog, added these:

  • When you plan what movies you’re seeing (and if you get them), give yourself enough time to get from one venue to the next.
  • If you’re in a situation where you have vouchers to use, remember: unless you’re a volunteer, they’re only valid during the festival. So unless you know you’re going to see 30 films, only get as many tickets/vouchers as you think you can handle.
  • DO NOT TALK during movies. It’s not the Toronto International Chat Festival. If people wanted to overhear the conversations you’re having with your friends, they could do it outside the theatre for free, not for $23.

Designer Breeyn McCarney says to check the weather if you’re doing TIFF. This week alone the temperature went from  40-plus degrees to 11 degrees Celsius in three days.


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