Like my mother, I’m a film lover and have been since childhood. I was in my glory when I moved to Toronto and realized that, for 10 days every September, it was home to TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival).
I’ve cancelled or delayed many a vacation in my time, but those 10 days were sacrosanct. I looked forward to the festival all year and I embraced each and every aspect of it.
The endless line-ups didn’t bother me, poring through descriptions of thousands of films, trying to narrow them down to the ones I wanted wasn’t a pain (except for one year when I was convinced I didn’t get any of my choices) and I was unfazed by the mad dash from theatre to theatre, film to film.
And let me tell you, it was a helluva lot of dashing. I used to buy the 50-movie pass — yeah, I saw five – six films a day.
Did it for years and years, until the films they screened started to get way too commercial for my taste and they did away with that particular pass.
But TIFF isn’t the only film festival we’re lucky enough to have in Toronto. Each year we also have Hot Docs, which is North America’s largest documentary film festival, conference and market.
Last Saturday afternoon I went to a screening with a friend. To be honest, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia when we arrived and made our way to the end of the line. She made a comment about how much room everyone’s knapsacks were taking up and I remembered my TIFF knapsack.
It was my film festival survival kit. In it was a lightweight sweater or jacket, a cap, and an umbrella (you have to be prepared for rain, heatwaves and air-conditioning), non-perishable snacks like nuts and dried fruit (five – six movies a day don’t leave much time for meals), water, a book (until I got my iPad) and the festival schedule because I never knew when I might have a couple of free hours to squeeze in another film.
Then I thought about my line buddies. When you saw as many films as I did, and stood in as many lines for as many hours as I did, you got to know a lot of fellow film lovers; and we all looked forward to re-connecting every year.
So in that moment on Saturday I was a bit wistful for my festival days.
“Maybe I’ll give it another shot this year,” I thought, ignoring the fact that my back was beginning to twinge from standing. Finally it was time to start inching our way into the theatre.
Alas, by the time we got in just about every seat that wasn’t reserved was taken. The only available aisle seats were in the first or second row. My friend and I split up — she doesn’t mind being crammed in between people, whereas it gives me claustrophobia. Down, down, down to the second row I went which I did often during TIFF. It never bothered me back then.
Sadly, the times they have a changed.
Wasn’t long before my neck started to ache. Because I was so close to the screen I had to tilt my head way back in order to see properly. About 45 minutes in, my ass got numb from sitting. My back started to throb from the lack of support left in my seat — too many bodies, over too many years I guess. I did love the film, though. “Blurred Lines: Inside The Art World.” Well worth seeing if you ever get the chance.
Sitting through multiple films a day is definitely not for me anymore. At least not until the seats have been replaced with recliners equipped with built-in massagers.
Why has no one thought of this?????