Saturday, September 03, 2005

TIFF Entry #2: The Results Are In…

I was in Box 3. Box 36 of 48 was drawn first. My box would be the 15th processed. This is much better than my processing position has been in past years. I waited for the promised emails from TIFF with a combination of anticipation (of the news) and skepticism (that any emails would ever be sent in the first place).

Then today, shortly after 5pm, the emails arrived. I was almost afraid to open them for fear of what they might contain.

But, I am pleased to report, the news is good. Of the 34 films I requested, I got 33. The only one sold out was Brokeback Mountain on Saturday (Sept. 10th) night, which I kind of expected given the film’s great buzz in Venice, its high-profile leads (who’ll both be here for the screening) and the fact that it’s a first-Saturday, nighttime screening, when everyone and their cousin is in town and when virtually every single film showing sells out.

Still 33 out of 34 ain’t bad!

I was shocked. Heck, I still am. Only one ticket missing? Seriously?

No, really. Seriously???

You mean…I really WILL get to see Catherine Keener in person at Capote?! I’ll be in the same theater as Maggie for Trust the Man?! I’ll be in the audience for the potential trainwreck that will be the Q&A for Margaret Cho’s Bam Bam and Celeste?!


But…whatever joy I might be feeling is tempered with a lingering flicker of the aforementioned doubt that these emails are 100% accurate. There’s still a chance that there was a glitch in the process somewhere. That the ticketing system mistakenly awarded me films I won’t, in fact, be seeing. Until I have my tickets in my hand on Monday morning, I shall remain cautiously optimistic.

And now I have to find something to see instead of Brokeback. I haven’t decided whether I’ll make an effort to pursue that film, or just relent and see something less popular instead.

I’ll end this entry with a small note about the ticket lottery itself. (Fear not, no ranting will follow.) This year, for the first time ever, I actually attended the lottery draw. I trucked over to the box office before the drop-off deadline to witness the Big Event in person. I’d heard others talking about it in years passed, so I thought, “What the heck! Maybe I’ll bring myself and my box-mates luck by being present for the draw!”

As lame as it sounds, the whole thing was kind of fun...if suspicious. The two TIFF reps ("box guy," who was carrying a box, and "bag guy," who was carrying a bag with the numbered chips) running the draw gathered a crowd outside the box office (and it was a pretty big crowd!), announced the total number of boxes collected as of the deadline (48), selected a volunteer from the masses, and then proceeded to put on their best carnival-barker voices to hold up and call out each numbered chip (to prove that each box was being included in the draw) before dropping it into a big box. Then the volunteer pulled out the winning number and the whole thing was over. Most people were happy, mainly because they’d only just squeaked in under the wire and would benefit from being in, say, box 47.

But here’s the thing:

A few minutes before the draw, the fest rep holding the box that would be used for the draw was carrying it around outside the box office. As he waited for the 1:00pm deadline to arrive, he meandered aimlessly with the box and was absentmindedly shaking it back and forth. He was near enough to me that I could hear stuff inside the box, moving around. At first, I thought he’d already dropped the numbered chips inside. “Weird,” I thought. “Aren’t they supposed to put the numbers in while we all watch?”

So I kept an eye on him, waiting to see if he’d dump out whatever was inside.

But I don't think he did. Granted, he was out of my field of vision for about 10 seconds while we all headed outside, so it's possible that he dumped out the contents. But where? Onto the sidewalk?

As far as I could tell, the numbered chips were dropped, with a great deal of pomp and circumstance, into the box with whatever else was already in there.


What could have been inside? The other TIFF rep brought out the stacks of numbered chips, so it couldn't have been those. Unless box guy had the stacks in the box, then somehow passed them to bag guy on the way out the door...?

Somewhere in the back of my mind, a tiny voice wondered: Is the draw fixed somehow? Do they load in some extra numbers in advance to ensure a certain set of numbers (for example, those toward the middle and end?) have a higher probability of being selected?

Dunno. Again, there was brief moment or two where I couldn't see box guy or bag guy, so maybe they did their thing and everything is on the up-and-up. I want to believe I’m overreacting but it smelled a little fishy. Maybe next year I’ll pipe up and ask them to prove the box is completely empty before they drop in chip #1.


DanO said...

Damn - if my mate is right, then we are going to have been processed 24 boxes after you.

There's no way I'm getting most of my tickets.

The_Voice said...

Ok, hi again. When did everyone get these emails? Cause I submitted 3 separate 10 tickets packages with my email on them... so far have received only 1 email. Should I have received an email for each of them by now?

Vickie said...

Well, a few factors come into play...factors that may mean you won't do as badly as you feared. Believe me, I've had AWFUL awful awful box luck in the past few years and always managed to get most of the tickets I requested.

The festival practically clears out after the first weekend (Sept. 9th - 11th, this year). TIFF front-loads the fest with all the Big Important Flashy Movies on that first Fri./Sat./Sun. weekend, and the city is packed to the rafters. Ditto all the screenings taking place during those three days. The nighttime films on the Friday and Saturday sell out ridiculously quickly. Year after year, the tickets I don't get are almost always for films on the first weekend.

BUT (!)...

Come Monday, Sept. 12th, the fest will be much more relaxed and civilized and not sold out. Most of the films in the fest's second week will have tickets left...some will have TONS of tickets left. Daytime screenings in the second week are rarely rush-only, and same-day tickets are often quite easy to get. Screenings before noon are even emptier. Screenings in the bigger theaters (Ryerson, Varsity 8, Paramount 1 or 2, and even the Eglin) sell out much slower than the ones in the smaller venues (Varsity 4/5/6, the ROM and all the Cumberland screens).

So, depending on when your movies are, and where they're showing, all might not be lost.

Vickie said...

the_voice, I received my emails (one for each separate order form submitted) yesterday (Sat.) sometime after 5pm. But I also have friends who haven't received any emails yet...presumably because their orders haven't yet been processed.

If you dropped off your 3 orders at the exact same time, so they'd be all together in the same box, then you should have received all 3 emails at the same time. But, if you staggered your orders so they'd be in different boxes, you'll get your emails one at a time, as each different order is processed. Also, if you staggered, there could be a big gap between email receipts depending on how far apart the boxes were.

The_Voice said...

Alas, they were all submitted at the exact same time, in box 6... so possibly the other emails are gone. I'm just wanting to know if I have to head down super early to get alternate choices, or if I got go down later in the day and just grab my tickets whenever. Thanks for the confirmation that others still don't have theirs yet.

Vickie said...

By chance, was it a 30-coupon book split into 3 orders of 10 each? If so, they might have voided the second and third sets of orders (meaning: no tickets at all).

I know they've really stressed that only one order form should be sumitted for each pass/coupon book. They allowed splitting in previous years, but instituted new policies last year. And, if you did split a 30-coupon into three, chances are orders 2 and 3 were trashed. It says somewhere in TIFF's policies that they'll do that if they receive multiple order forms for a single set of coupons.

If not, and it was three different 10-coupon books, then I'm not sure why your other emails haven't arrived yet. Weird. They should have sent the confirmations back-to-back.

The_Voice said...

Three 10-coupon books. Yeah, I'm quite peeved, as I still haven't received them, and thus, I shall be in line bright and early tomorrow and raising heck when I hit the front of the line... my concern... they just didn't process my other two packages.

Vickie said...

Well, hopefully it was just an oversight and whoever processed your orders just "forgot" to send the other two confirmation emails.

The nice thing is, that person has to initial the bottom of your order envelope, so it's easy to track down who did it!

Or didn't do it, as the case may be.