Those 10 days every September were sacrosanct, I booked them off almost a year in advance and honestly, short of a disaster there was nothing — and I do mean nothing — that would have caused me to change my plans.
You’ll think I am totally crazy, but I used to buy the 50-movie pass. Yeah, I’d see five to six movies everyday, for 10 straight days. And I loved every minute of it. And yes, I remembered what I saw — that’s the first question people ask when they hear I went to see 50 movies.
While lots of people are into film festivals for the parties or the chance to bump into celebrities, I was in it strictly for the movies. And what I loved about TIFF was the fact that they weren’t about screening mainstream films. They showcased young, independent film makers, films from all over the world and documentaries — stuff you’d not likely ever get to see in a theatre.
The excitement of “discovery” was always in the air. Until it wasn’t.
In an effort to appeal to a broader audience (and raise more much-needed money) they started showing fewer and fewer of the films I wanted to see and more and more of the “commercial” films we’re all used to. So much so, films would screen one day at TIFF and then open in theatres the next day.
Then, to make matters worse, they did the unthinkable. They stopped offering the 50-movie pass.
That was it. It was a bridge too far.
No more TIFF for me. I’d be lying if I told you that I don’t miss that extravaganza of movie-going I signed up for every year. And it’s not just the films themselves I miss. I miss the process — waiting for the films to be announced, waiting for my pass to arrive, spending hours and hours and hours reading about the hundreds of films being shown and culling them down to the 50 I most wanted to see, wondering (angsting) about whether or not the ticket lottery would favour me — or if I’d have to start all over again with a new list.
And I miss my line buddies — the fellow film fanatics I’d see once a year and only once a year at the festival — not that you’d ever know that from the way our conversations always began where we’d left them off the year before.
To be honest, I’ve never totally given up hope. Each year, when the TIFF schedule comes out, I check it, to see if maybe there are films that interest me.
No such luck. At least not enough to pay almost $30 for a single ticket (and sometimes more with surge pricing on popular films).
Happily, though, we are blessed in Toronto when it comes to films. We have a theatre here that shows nothing but documentaries 365 days a year. And, we have a documentary festival every year as well — Hot Docs (Canadian International Documentary Festival) — which runs from April 26 to May 6 this year.
Last Sunday I ordered a six-film package and yesterday I picked, and ordered, my films. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed poring over the list and the write-ups, making note of the days, times and locations where each film is being screened, and figuring out a schedule.
While it’s not the 50 I’m used to, six is better than nothing. I wish I could see more, but I’ve got several projects on the go and the time I have available to see movies is restricted to evenings and weekends.
But I’m still excited. See you at the movies!