Friday, August 08, 2008

Random Pre-TIFF Thoughts

So the festival is less than a month away (!!) and the announcements have been dribbling out ever so slowly. That means it's time to start compiling some thoughts on the current state of TIFF 2008. Or maybe it means it's time to shave my head, stuff eggplants in my pants and dance like an 8-year old on a sugar rush. I'm never sure about these things.

Anyway, here's some thoughts:

  • The Elgin (a.k.a. the Visa Screening Room) is ineligible for the ticket lottery this year, which leaves me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it was the home of my first TIFF experience, Terry Gilliam's Tideland, and it screened a number of my subsequent highlights, including Pan's Labyrinth, Brand Upon the Brain!, and No Country for Old Men. On the other hand, the theater has become a real pain in the ass to attend, especially for those of us without Visa Platinum cards. Without access to the Visa lounge (which allows Platinum members to get early access to the theaters), it's been almost impossible to find a decent seat. Add to that the lack of Q & A's, the poor sound and the fact that most of the films shown end up in first-run theaters within months anyway, I suppose it's not much of a loss after all. Never mind...
  • Much more frustrating is the news that festival donors will have their tickets processed before the non-donors, with priority given to the highest donors. For the festival, it's win-win: happier donors, more money, all good. And since festivals are notorious money pits, who can blame them for wanting to increase the cash flow. Unfortunately, it's lose-lose for those of us on the low-end: less chances to get into the popular films and all the while, the festival takes another step towards becoming a glorified trade show (Cannes with a handful of public screenings, or a slightly less obnoxious Sundance). The festival's not that bad, yet, but every time I see something like this (or the Elgin situation), a part of my love for the festival starts to wither away...
  • Of course, my class-based agitation might just be a cover for the realization that my three-year lucky streak in the lottery (90 for 90) might be about to crash and burn, thanks to the donors. No, it couldn't be something that petty...
  • As an inveterate and often impatient follower of the yearly announcement trickle, I can't help but notice that this year's film announcements have seemed unusually slower and more...trickly (yeah, it's a word). But then when I went to the press releases from 05, 06 and 07, I was surprised to see that it's always been like this. So now I wonder why I feel this way. I suppose it's the lack of an instant must-see in the announcements thus far. By this point in '05, I knew about Tideland; '06 was particularly front-loaded: Pan's Labyrinth, The Host, Rescue Dawn, and The Brand Upon the Brain!; and '07 was even more so: No Country for Old Men, Diary of the Dead, Mother of Tears, The Orphanage, and Encounters at the End of the World. This year...well, I'll save that for another entry.
  • I don't really have a fourth thought. Why is that? Do I not have enough ideas to sustain a single blog post? Are my weak concepts a microcosm of the general weakness of the TIFF slate thus far this year? Or is this post simply circling the drain, seeking an exit, unable to break free...
Well, that's it for this round. Coming soon (I hope): a piece by piece look at the TIFF programmes and the films in them that interest me so far. Should be delightful.

1 comment:

CS said...

Great post! I am also a little concerned with the direction the festival is taking. How many more restrictions are they going to put on us film lovers who do not have pockets lined in gold? When I first started attending the festival, Day Passes allowed screenings to films that started before 6 pm, then a year or two later they changed it to 5:01pm. Which help to exclude a huge number of films that were shown between five and six. Then they get rid of the old 30 ticket package, which allowed up to 4 tickets per screening, ) in favor of the new “Festival Lite” packages which only allows one ticket per person. This personally hurt as I introduced so many friends to the festival, who are now avid festival goers themselves, by sharing some of my tickets from the old 30 pack. The funny thing is, if you buy a both”10-ticket package” and a regular “Day pass”, you actually end up seeing more films (35 in total) for $ 25 cheaper price than the 30-film “Festival Lite” package. Now they make the Visa Screening Room ineligible for the majority of us pass holders as well. Again, how many more restrictions are they going to put on us? I know that it cost a lot to keep the festival running at the level it does, but the one thing that made TIFF standout from all the other festivals was that it was a public centric festival. Now it seems that the public has become a second class citizen. How much longer before screenings at the Ryerson (which also features a high number of celebrity appearances) becomes an exclusive package as well?