Sunday, September 18, 2005

TIFF Entry #14: Annnnnnnd…scene.

The red carpets have been rolled up, the velvet ropes are back in storage and the Yorkville area of Toronto is decidedly paparazzi-free today. Me? I spent the day re-entering the real world, sorting accumulated mail and wondering how it is that I managed to accidentally bring home so many of those voting ballots.

But wait. What’s THIS?!? I turned on press conference coverage this morning and who did I see sitting next to Justin Timberlake at the session for Edison?!?


What the…?! She has a small supporting role in Edison, but shows up for that and NOT for Imagine Me & You where she’s the STAR?!


Such is the lure of a high-profile project I guess and, I would assume, free travel from the fest for its closing-night extravaganza.


The film festival handed out its official awards last night, and the winners are as follows:

Audience Award: The UK/South Africa drama Tsotsi

Discovery Award for Best First Feature: The Australian film Look Both Ways

The FIPRESCI Prize: Sa-kwa, from South Korea

Best Canadian First Feature: A tie between Familia and The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico

Best Canadian Feature: The sexually confused-teen movie C.R.A.Z.Y.

Personally, TIFF 2005 will always remain the year of Imagine Me & You. Most of the rest of the films I saw were good, but nothing could compare to Imagine’s magic and wonder in my eyes. I was right – seeing it so early in the festival kind of took some of the shine of the rest of the week. Thankfully, I didn’t see too many duds, and even enjoyed some unexpectedly affecting films like Sorry, Haters and Runaway.

But, as I mentioned yesterday, the festival as a whole was somehow less impressive overall than it has been in past years. I didn’t really find any new talent to rave about, and even wound up being underwhelmed by an actress I loved and lauded in the past (Maggie, I’m looking at you).

The smell of cedar will always remind me of the freshly mulched gardens around the Ryerson Theatre and cute line wranglers with clipboards. I’ll think fondly of discovering a new set of secret washrooms (!) there, and cringe when I recall the coughing woman perpetually over my right shoulder in the dark. I’ll reminisce about wandering the empty streets of the club district to get to crack-of-dawn screenings at the Paramount, awaiting dimly lit anarchy during screening malfunctions and learning the perils of caffeinated Frappucinos (consume at your own risk if you’re planning on standing in line for any extended amount of time).

TIFF 2005 came to a quiet, unassuming, Ebert-free end. It was good, but not great, this year. Here’s hoping 2006 will return the fall spectacular to its rightful spectacularity.

Fingers crossed!


the_voice said...

Thanks for the blog this year. It was entertaining to follow, and I look forward to continuing to follow your entries.

Vickie said...

Thanks for reading!

Knowing someone else is looking at it makes it worthwhile.

What were your best and worst of the fest?

the_voice said...

Best: Wallace & Gromit, Corpse Bride, Elizabethtown

Worst: Tideland, Shopgirl, Seven Swords

Seven Swords is there only because I saw some good films this year, and Seven Swords was long and unoriginal.

Linda said...

I just read today on IMDB that Terry Gilliam was struggling to find a distributor for Tideland, because I guess the audience response left a bit to be desired. Ahh... to see the mighty fall is sad. Can't wait to see Wallace & Gromit!!!

Matt said...

The festival blog was a great read, though I am sad you didn't get to see Roger Ebert. You just missed him: only a few hours after L'Enfer, he was at the Ryerson for World's Fastest Indian.

I was volunteering there, so your strong impression of the "cute line wranglers with clipboards" got me curious. Were they men or women? I'm trying to guess who it was so I can tease them about it next year. (No, I'm not fishing for a compliment -- volunteers don't carry clipboards.)

Vickie said...

Matt, are you the floppy-haired, young Hugh-Grant-esque guy who worked *inside* the Ryerson? (If so, you're adorable! And you actually told me you loved me for pre-folding my ticket for ease of tearing. Awww...)

Or perhaps the long-haired, bearded guy who stood in the lobby and repeatedly told incoming audience members that they weren't allowed to bring food inside? (If so, well done with the bellowing!)

But, to be honest, the cute line wrangler was a she. A FOH assistant, I believe. I have no idea what her name was, but she was gorgeous (freckly!), worked days, wielded a clipboard and had a tiny nose piercing. Oh! And almost always had a Kangol bag slung over her shoulder. Ring a bell?

If so, feel free to send her a link to this blog or the phancy-pants official, nicely formatted TIFF 2005 diary. And pass along my thanks for making standing in those long lines at the Ryerson an unexpected delight. ;-)

Thanks for reading, btw, and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Matt said...

Damn... I didn't know the audience spends so much time checking out the staff & volunteers! Too funny!

Not sure who the Hugh-Grant-esque guy is, but I know exactly who you're talking about with the bearded guy (he's one of the Ryerson Theatre managers) and the freckly FOHA. I'll definitely pass along the thanks.

Next year, if you see a tall guy in a volunteer t-shirt with a "Matt" nametag working the ticket-holder's line, say hello. We can compare notes on secret washrooms... :)

Vickie said...

Matt, when you're standing in line for 40 minutes (or more) for each movie, and you have nothing to do but people watch to pass the time, you become very familiar very quickly with the TIFF folks you see every day. ;-)

But yes, we check you out as much as (one assumes) you check us out! (Be honest. You know you do!)

For the record, the Hugh Grant-y guy was young (he looked maybe in his early-20s at most), with Hugh hair and a dry, Hugh sense of humour. Hence the comparison.

And it's kind of exciting to know that you know the freckly FOHA. She was easily the most stylish FOHA I encountered at the fest. I remember making note of the bag, in particular, after seeing it several days in a row and thinking, "Cool bag!"

As for the secret washrooms, I'm THRILLED to report I found a brand new set at the Ryerson! Seems word began to spread about the first secret washrooms, and this year there was often a (shorter, but still) line. So I went spelunking and presto! Pristine, empty, secret washrooms just a stone's throw farther away. *sigh*

What you need to do is dish some volunteer dirt -- what was the weirdest thing that happened for you at TIFF '05? Worst patron? Best?

And did someone really throw up in the theater at one of the Midnight Madness screenings?

Matt said...

Being outside the theatre is definitely good for people-watching, but in working an average shift at the Ryerson I'd have about 3000 moviegoers pass by me. So, honestly, it's hard for any one person to make a huge impression. In fact, it can be a bit embarrassing when a patron comes up to you to thank you for helping them out earlier and you've already forgotten what it was you did!

I don't have a ton of volunteer dirt -- the Ryerson crew is an easy-going bunch -- but here are a few bests & worsts:

Weirdest thing: When celebrities show up in the ticket-holder's line to see a movie they're not involved with. Last year it was Woody Harrelson (who I snuck in behind the press); this year it was Bob Hoskins (seeing Breakfast on Pluto).

Worst patron: It's a tie amongst a handful of aggressive and pre-meditated line-cutters. Those people I'd recognize for sure.

Best patron: The woman who ducked out of line to pick up an empty bottle another person in line had just tossed on the sidewalk. She gave the litterer a nasty look before taking the bottle over to the garbage can a couple of metres away.

Strangest rule: If the director's in attendance, they have final say on the volume level for the film.

Most entertaining audience: The fans for Thank You For Smoking, one of whom introduced herself to me as "Adam Brody's future wife". I believe she did get an autograph, though not a proposal.

Friendliest "talent": Gurinder Chadha, who saw the long Rush line for Mistress of Spices and left the red carpet to go meet those fans in case they didn't get in. (This all being unplanned, I was assigned to escort her down the line.) She answered questions, signed autographs, and even posed for photos with fans. And sure enough, 2/3rds of them got turned away, so I'm sure her visit made waiting in line worthwhile.

I didn't hear about someone throwing up at Midnight Madness but it wouldn't be a huge surprise. Last year, an unspecified horror on one of the old seats delayed us for about 20 minutes between films. Maybe that's the real reason all the seats got replaced. :7

Vickie said...

Ewwwwwwwww. What is WRONG with people?!

What a great story about Gurinder Chadha! I hadn't heard that, and I was *at* that screening. I remember seeing her at Bend It Like Beckham a few years back and loving her post-film Q&A. Not surprised to hear she's fun and considerate.

Don't even get me started on the line-cutters. I've had numerous discussions with fellow patrons over our favourite tactics employed by the 'cutters. My personal faves are the "sidlers," who kind of sidle up to someone in a moving line as if they know that person or as if they're just confused and "happen" to be walking in the same direction as the line. Then they try to nonchalantly duck in with everyone else. Fat chance!

Thankfully, many of us are diligent and thwart the efforts of those wanting to ignore procedure. ;-)

As for you standing amid a blur of fest patrons, I can see where we'd all become interchangeable. Maybe next year I'll wear a propellor beanie, just to stand out...

And yes, I guess it *is* easier for us/me to notice one clipboard-wielding FOHA out of, say, a crew of a dozen exterior staffers, than it would be the other way around. ;-)

Did you actually get to see any movies at the fest?

Matt said...

OK, yes, a propeller beanie would make a huge impression no matter how busy the shift. We (the exterior volunteers & staff) would probably still be talking about it days later. We might even have to update the "No food or drink" sign to also ban "rotating headgear". (After all, you could be tempted to wear it in the theatre to drive away coughing women sitting behind you, but that just wouldn't be polite.)

Anyway, I do realize the patrons aren't all interchangeable, even beyond the differences between the hated line-cutters and the much appreciated line-cutter-thwarters. (Thanks for your efforts on that!) But most of the ones I remember at this point are people I actually talked with. "Adam Brody's future wife" was one; another was a fellow who came up to me before Drawing Restraint 9 claiming to be director Matthew Barney. He decided to join the ticket line anyway. Weird thing about that film (well, other than the film itself) was that everyone in the ticket-holder's line seemed to know each other.

My scheduling got all messed up, but I did squeeze in a few films. One I didn't see on your list was a/k/a Tommy Chong, which was both interesting and funny. It had more depth and a lot more subtlety than some recent docs on American politics. I also managed to catch the Mavericks session with Nick Park. He's very understated in a typically British way, which actually makes him a tricky interview subject. But I did find out a bunch about his earlier work and also got to see some clips from the new Wallace and Gromit film. Plus, going to the Isabel Bader theatre for the first time was a treat.

And just to contribute one last contradictory bit of line buzz: a fellow volunteer who saw Caché told me it was very good.

Vickie said...

See? I haven't even *worn* the propellor beanie yet and already it's a hit! I knew it would be a winner, and I didn't even think about its potential benefit as audience repellent. Excellent!

The 'Bader is one of my favourite of the new(er) fest theaters, yet I didn't have a single film there this year. The only downside to that venue is its BEES, which were the subject of much discussion in my 2003 and 2004 diaries -- namely, "HOLY CRAP! What's with all the freakin' bees?!"

Somewhere, Moviepie's Linda is beaming with pride for you for going to a Mavericks session, especially one with Nick Park. (Had you gone to the one with the Grey Gardens director, you would have been her new hero. ;-)) Not seeing the Wallace & Gromit feature was a tough call for me -- I've seen almost all of Aardman's work, so I felt obliged. But I also knew I could see it in a few weeks in commercial release, but that Zooey Deschanel movie might disappear post-fest. So it won out.

Out of curiosity, what do you the rest of the year when you're not shuffling fest patrons into the Ryerson?

And how did you find this blog??

Matt said...

I didn't see any bees when I was at the Bader this year, though I wasn't waiting outside long.

I found this blog after I Googled "toronto film festival volunteers". One of the top results was your 2003 story about Percy, and from there it wasn't hard to find this year's comments about cedar mulch and cute FOHAs. I also found a nice article in the Toledo Blade describing Ryerson's "lock and load" (the human chain that protects talent exiting limos).

Vickie said...

Of course, the Google search! It's always fun to see which combination of words leads to the 'Pie.

Ahh, Percy. Memories. (Thankfully, there are far fewer Percys and Doras these days.)

The Bader bees tend to congregate around the westward lines, especially towards University, under the trees. And heaven help the person who decides to crack open a snack in their presence. You've suddenly got yourself a relentless, buzzing, short-tempered best-friend-for-life.

Matt, you should drop me an email (I think there's a link somewhere in my profile?) -- I sometimes have extra tickets to film screenings (press passes and such) and, when I'm stuck going solo because everyone I know is busy or not interested, I'd rather share them with someone fun and knowledgable than the creepy ticket scammers who plant themselves outside theaters. (Some of whom also volunteer at TIFF!)

Then you can tell me "off the record" all the film fest stuff you wouldn't dare type onto a public blog. ;-)

the_voice said...

If he's "off the record" stories about TIFF lines and theatres are anything like what happens in a year round movie theatre, then maybe you don't want to know. When he wrote "an unspecified horror" I could only recall MANY unspecified horrors encountered in a year round theatre (think: sleeping man, sweating profusely with an empty bottle of Vodka and a full bottle found on his body, and a big sun coloured stain found on the seat when security had removed him). I'm hoping the film festival patrons are not generally as bad. Generally speaking, people are more likely to vomit during a motion sickness related film (the horrors of opening night Blair Witch still gives me shivers) than from content.

Vickie said...

The "unspecified horror" conjured things much worse than urine in my mind, I'm afraid. :-X

Linda said...

Geez, I leave for a weekend, and look at all the new reading material! Comments:

a) Funny that Blair Witch was mentioned in the "unspecified horrors" tangent. When that film opened here (in Seattle) at the Neptune, a person somewhere up in the front puked during the screening (luckily we were in the balcony, and only had to hear about it later).

b) There could be a whole tangent of unspecified inappropriate behavior during screenings... like the one screening (I think at SIFF) of some mild and harmless movie -- like a tame romantic comedy -- where when the lights came on, and I was already halfway up the aisle, I saw a very heavy man zip up his pants and start tucking in his shirt. Yikes.

c) Hello Matt. I don't know you, but I like you. You went to see Nick Park. But it didn't sound like you went to Mavericks: Albert Maysles. WHAT'S WITH YOU PEOPLE??!?!?! Do I have to come out there myself??? GOSH! ;-)

Matt said...

I'm afraid I can't shed any more light on the unspecified horror -- that's all I was told when I asked why we'd been delayed 20 minutes. Volunteers don't always get the full story since the staff can't be sure how discreet they'll be. For the same reason, I don't have lots of true horror stories. From what I do know, I'd agree with The Voice -- regular movie theatres probably deal with much worse. And the food & drink ban at the Ryerson certainly helps keep things cleaner.

Hello Linda. I don't know you either but it seems I've already disappointed you. (Sorry about that.)  As Vickie mentioned, the Mavericks series was pretty pricey; I was debating about whether to go to the Nick Park session until I lucked into a free ticket for it. Now that I think about it, there's a direct flight from Seattle to Toronto, landing in time to get you to the 'Bader for that session -- I can be confident about the timing because I've taken that flight before. So what's your excuse? :7

Vickie -- thanks for the offer. I'd be happy to scam an occasional extra ticket in a non-creepy way. I'd actually already sent you an e-mail to your e-mail address. Did that not go through, or is that the wrong address?

Vickie said...

Whaaa...?! No! That email did not go through, but yes that *should* have worked. Hmmm...

Try the one in the profile. *fingers crossed*

And I'm delighted that you'd take the ticket(s) in a non-creepy way, since that's the same way I was offering them. ;-)

Since Linda can't seem to get herself to Toronto, I'm heading her way to deliver a map and flight schedule in person. Perhaps she can see what all the TIFF fuss is about for herself, in person, in 2006.

Vickie said...

Matt, it seems you've potentially shed light on a fatal email flaw.

Seems my address isn't working. At all. And hasn't been for quite some time. :-o

No wonder I haven't had an email there in more than a year. Good grief -- I wonder how many other people sent me messages that I didn't get?!

the_voice said...

My quick last bit on unspecified horrors: 1) Trekkies, when in theatres had a total of two people go by me to see it on cheap Tuesday... during a check of theatre quality (some theatres do this), I noticed they were not engrossed in the film, but were engrossed in upwards and downwards movements with eachother... eventually leaving before security was called in through the alternate exits.
2) Used "products" from such sessions have been found in theatres on MANY occasions. Here's to the poor ushers who have, on occasion, picked up what they thought were deflated balloons :P

And now continue with your friendly conversations on things regarding good and talented people... like Nick Park and company who hit a SUPER quality film in Wallace & Gromit... if you liked the original shorts (in particular the Wrong Trousers... my favourite of them), you'll LOVE the film... they seem to have gotten their pacing down in both teh editing and the animation, so it's smoother, but keeps ALL of the charm of the shorts... and they show that they have a love for classic animation and film-making throughout... plus they know that both kids AND their parents will be seeing the movie, so old and young audiences are kept entertained.

Linda said...

Matt: Why didn't I just fly on out to Toronto for Mr. Maysles? Well... Well... (biting lip, trying to think of a snappy excuse). GOSH. Maybe I'm not disappointed in you... I'm really just disappointed in myself. :(

Maybe 2006 is the year when I will finally venture to the famed TIFF extravaganza!

BTW, welcome Matt and The Voice! Nice to "meet" you, and thanks for checking out the 'Pie!

Matt said...

Thanks, Linda. (It's not every site that gives you a personal welcome from the webmistress.) If you're in line at the Ryerson next year, make sure to say hello!

the pagan agenda said...

Hey guys and gals,

wondering if any of you would be interested in participating in a collaborative festival podcast, an idea i have had for some time... linking on-site reviews and experiences of all the major film festivals on one podcast. check my site out for more info:

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