Film Festival Triage

Attending the Toronto Film Festival takes work. I picked up the festival program yesterday and have been pouring over it ever since, trying to read as many of the summaries of the 352 films being screened and narrowing them down to 15 first choice and 15 second choice picks, which I will attempt to schedule without conflicts (and time to eat) between Sept. 7-16. Of course not much screens on the first Thursday and by the final Saturday most of the directors, actors and producers have left town, leaving the last films without their fantastic Q&As, so subtracting one day for a pre-natal class (um, not part of the festival for most people) and we are looking at a two-films-per-day regiment. I know some people attend 30 films, even 50, but they’re crazy.

This will be our 10th year at the festival, which has been part of my September almost every year since I first moved to Toronto and volunteered as an usher at the dearly departed Uptown Theatre on Yonge St. That year I saved seats for Cher and her entourage, who were there to see her in “If These Walls Could Talk”; met Bob Hoskins while he was waiting for the Q&A for “The Secret Agent”; stood at the back of the theatre and watched “Bound,” the Wachowski Brothers first film; and I tore the ticket of a 23-year-old first-time director named Shane Meadows, who was there with his film “Small Time” and the short “Where’s The Money Ronnie?”

I didn’t volunteer after that because I wasn’t able to watch enough films without being a terrible usher. This year I’m planning to see “This Is England,” the sixth of Meadow’s films to premiere at the festival. He’s been at each of them and his talks after the screenings have always been hilarious. It’s that chance to interact with the filmmakers that makes the experience worthwhile – you not only get to see some fantastic films, but you get to talk to their creators minutes after they finish. Let’s see a director’s DVD commentary compete with that.

Anyway, I’ve probably got another 100 or so films to read up on, so I’ll have to fill you in on my choices later. (The picture is of myself, Shane Meadows and Paddy Considine at the scrceeing of “Dead Man’s Shoes” in 2004.)


  1. Oh goodness. Can't wait to hear your selections. I'm a bit more obsessed about VIFF. Since 2000, I've been attending an average of 3 films per day (though some days I'll only get to one and other days, I'll do 4). You're soooo right, it IS a job but I love every single second of it. Only 9 days left before our guide is published. Can't wait!

  2. Have fun and let us know what's good. I like dark humor, recommendations are welcome.

  3. how fun, I can't wait to see what you get to see...hopefully some winners!

  4. I got my picks in and I'll find out on Monday what we get. Should be some good stuff, but I won't get into my list until I know it. Can't wait though.