TIFFist: Festival Farewell
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TIFFist: Festival Farewell

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The Toronto Film Festival is fully over and has been for nearly a week, with staff having made their way back from their temporary offices in hotels and malls, volunteers returned to their usual jobs or schools, and stars returning to… their lives of going to parties and hanging out with other stars (not a big change there, then). Now all the films are over and the red carpet has been rolled away, most of us are quite happy to forget about the festival for another year, and indeed, many of us got kind of tired of it by the end. So Torontoist is here to take a look at some reasons why we should still be in love with the Toronto Film Festival.
The Stars
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A lot of people might complain about them for taking away the column inches from films that might require them, but in Toronto the stars have a lot to add to the equation, showing Toronto and its festival across the world in a friendly light. For one, Toronto is almost a festival where the stars can let their hair down – unlike the barely controlled scrum that is Cannes, the stars can be at ease with the accredited press as the festival has tight rules to ensure nothing goes wrong. Indeed, the Stars might be pleased with the general Canadian experience – Torontoist was on hand outside at several press conferences and saw fans of stars such as Orlando Bloom and Kirstin Dunst act more politely than you might expect in their attempts to get a much coveted picture or signature from the Elizabethtown stars. Word is that Orlando felt so comfortable with fans that at the Gala he talked to fans and gave signatures for 45 minutes. (Then again, perhaps he just wasn’t enjoying the film – it has been critically mauled so far.)
The Staff and Volunteers
The year round staff barely work anything less than 18 hour days for months coming up to the festival, and the temporary staff and volunteers certainly don’t work much less for the period up to and including the festival. During the festival I’ve yet to see a film where the audience haven’t applauded the Toronto Film Festival Volunteers, with one of the largest and most lauded programmes in the world (with thousands of volunteer shifts across two weeks) the volunteers are a large part of what makes the festival so successful – working long hours for little more in return than helping people and the love of the festival. And from the moment one festival ends programmers and publicists for the festival group are working out which films to give attention to the next year, films from countries with emerging cinema markets or films from first time directors, as well as films likely to be Oscar hopefuls or big hits.
The Films
And it’s those very films that are the most important thing about the festival. Toronto is unique in that unlike comparable festivals (there aren’t many, but Cannes and Sundance, let’s say) Toronto is a public festival with multiple showings of films. This year there was a mind blowing 355 films, which included films from every possible genre and for every possible audience. More than that most showings included an introduction and often a Q & A with at least the director, and some films (such as this year’s festival hit Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story) feature practically the entire on stage being subjected to the utterly random probings of the audience.
The Film Festival Group
The festival might only be for two weeks, but the festival group is working hard all year round with the Cinematheque Ontario programme, which shows rare and hard to see films. The Fall Season starts on October 14th, including a retrospective on seminal if mostly unknown outside of Japan Mikio Naruse, the films of Harold Lloyd, and Torontoist’s secret pick of the season, a Saturday matinee showing in Late October of one of our favourite Cary Grant films – Arsenic and Old Lace.
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More than just the Cinematheque Ontario programme, there is also the Talk Cinema programme, the screening and film discussion programme (this year’s programme hasn’t been revealed yet, however last year it included such conversation fodder as Vera Drake and Kung Fu Hustle), and for those desperate for another film festival there’s only a matter of months to wait for Sprockets – the Toronto International Film Festival for children. So like it or lump it (Torontoist loves it) the Film Festival is always here. We hope to see you at a Cinematheque Ontario screening soon.

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