TIFF 2011: Matt’s Reactions and Review Scorecard

     September 19, 2011


This was my first year attending the Toronto International Film Festival and it did not disappoint.  Rather than seething with anger as I read reviews from critics who were at the festival, I got to be one of those critics!  I caused seething anger!  In all seriousness, it was great to be on the frontline of a flick and getting to put in my two cents before the buzz started to cement and cast a shadow over the awards season.  There were plenty of terrific films to see as well as plenty of in-no-way-terrific films to see.

Hit the jump for my brief thoughts on the TIFF experience as well as my final scorecard for all of the films I reviewed.

tiff-logo-01Here are my thoughts on TIFF 2011 in convenient bullet-point form:

– Like Sundance, I was impressed at how TIFF ran like a well-oiled machine.  I suppose I should expect that from such a hugely successful annual festival, but it’s still a little awe-inspiring to see how many moving parts there were and, at least from my perspective, how everything went off without a hitch.  The only major technical glitch was the hour-long delay for The Descendants, and even that didn’t bother me since the staff was communicative and apologetic about the delay.  Technical errors are bound to happen and I thought that the TIFF staff handled this one in a classy, professional manner.

– The best pre-film promo was the one congratulating the volunteers.  The audience usually applauded when the promo came up and that adulation was well-deserved.  I’m sure someone out there had a bad experience with one of the 2,000+ volunteers, but I spent nine days at TIFF, went to 3-5 screenings per day, and every volunteer I encountered was helpful, courteous, and knowledgeable.  I was never directed to a wrong line and when a volunteer didn’t know the answer to my question, they got on the headset and directed me to someone who did.  I’m not sure what the volunteers got in exchange for giving their time and effort, but it wasn’t enough considering how hard they worked and how well they did.

– I spent most of my time in the TIFF Bell Lightbox and Scotiabank Theaters with the occasional trip to the Ryerson, the Princess of Wales, and Winter Garden Theaters.  There wasn’t a single bad venue and the Scotiabank Theater in particular was incredible.  The screens were massive, the seats were roomy and comfortable, and the seat-count for the major auditoriums was around 550 seats each.  Additionally, it was easy to move between venues.  It was another exemplary aspect of the festival.

– In public screenings, when the anti-piracy notice came on screen, the audience went “Arrgh!” like pirates.  I didn’t know this was a thing and it was an endearing, colorful quirk to the festival.

– Every promo eventually becomes tiresome if you see it enough times, but by far the worst one as the ad for TIFF’s upcoming Grace Kelly exhibit.  It’s their festival and they can show whatever they want, but it made the exhibit look exploitative and pretentious.   You could tell that the promo was grating on everyone after a couple days.

– It would be nice to have a wifi signal in the Lightbox and the Scotiabank, but it may not be technically feasible or cost-effective for TIFF.  If you were wondering why I was posting my reviews in batches in the mid afternoon or late at night, it’s because I couldn’t leave the theater look for a wifi signal at the risk of missing my next screening.

Speaking of my reviews, here’s the final scorecard for everything I saw:

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