Sunday, August 31, 2008

TIFF 2008 (Vickie's Diary): TIFF (Sept. 4th – 13th) -- Let the games begin!

Missed a TIFF diary? Want to catch up? Enjoy:
2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002

Oh. Hey. Guess what? It’s *yawn* film festival time again and... blah blah blah... film festival DOs and DON’Ts blah blah.

What’s that, you say? You’re wondering if there’s a distinct lack of enthusiasm in this annual diary intro where, typically, I am overflowing with excitement and glee and exclamation points?

Well, you are not mistaken. I’m feeling twinges of bitterness and increasing frustration as each year passes, and maybe I’ve finally plateau-ed. I hit the wall mid-way through last year’s festival, and it was a bit of a wake-up call. I've never been that tired before. So, I’m aiming lower this September. Seeing fewer films and attempting to pace myself so that, you know, I don’t burn out completely on day four.

TIFF 2008 hasn’t even started yet and I’m already beat. Already working at a stamina deficit. Already feeling like I should be sleeping more and eating better. I kind of feel like I’ve been TIFFing for a good week or two already... and, in many ways, I have been. I’ve racked up a handful of pre-fest screenings, and have once again endured the supremely lame insanity of the annual ticket lottery. Seriously, this immensely flawed system has been in place for, what, 10 years or so?, and it STILL DOESN’T WORK. It’s still unfair. But whatever. That dead horse has been beaten beyond recognition at this point.

Last year, the fest added a slew of convoluted extra steps to the ticket-ordering process, and they remain in 2008. I fully expect fingerprinting, retinal scans and DNA sampling to be incorporated at some point in the not-too-distant future.

In a bid to appease disgruntled festgoers like me, TIFF has introduced a number of new outdoor initiatives at the Yonge/Dundas Square... presumably to distract us from the fact that they’ve relocated their main box office to the busiest intersection in the city, and planted it right in the middle of an already crowded third-floor food court (!), accessible only after ascending two escalators (three if you're coming from the subway level) and servicing a huge volume of people. Convenient.

TIFF has also reduced the number of films at this year’s festival, programming 312 (down from 349 in 2007) but adding screens at the AMC Yonge/Dundas -- a move that may very well make people long for the comparable civility of the previously maligned Scotiabank Theatre. So, one would assume that there might be fewer movies but more screenings. Can’t say for sure whether that’s true. That's math I have no interest in doing.

Anyhoo, I am thrilled to bits that Moviepie’s Eric will be returning to Toronto for his second TIFF! This not only means extra blogging over at Moviepie ‘Musings, where we’ll update daily, but it means a huge amount of fun regardless. So, you know, YAY! And I know that his presence will instantly buoy my enthusiasm, so... onwards!

I’ve decided to pare down my daily entries this year, though, because I think a lot of the extraneous information was, well, extraneous and boring. So, in addition to the daily recaps, I’m only going to spare Celebrity Sightings and Line Buzz™. They’re the most important ones, anyway.

So, while I load up on protein shakes and B12 shots, and attempt to rest up before the circus hits town, check out the official TIFF 2008 website for all the screening info you could want.

See you in line! (Probably.)


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

TIFF 2008 (Eric's diary): entering the lottery

At 8:54 this morning, we received our Toronto International Film Festival ticketing package including the program guide, order booklets, drop-off and pick-up vouchers, pre-paid FedEx return envelope, and detailed instructions because someone decided that this should be the most complicated and annoying procedure ever. Someone decided that this should be a LOTTERY.

The full schedule was released yesterday, and since then I have read all 312 film descriptions, narrowed them down to 77 favorites and narrowed them down again, eventually settling on 20 choices (10 first picks, 10 backup picks).

This year, I'm especially impressed the number of documentaries I'm dying to see. These were just a few that caught my eye:

- The Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World
- Blood Trail
- Every Little Step
- American Swing
- Unwanted Witness
- Sea Point Days
- Soul Power
- Food Inc.

- Dungeon Masters

And, of course, there is Religulous, which Dan and I saw chunks of last year, courtesy of Bill Maher and Larry Charles. (The only reason we chose not to see the full version this year was... well, we only get 10 TIFF movies a year, and I didn't want two of them to be the same movie.)

So, this morning, I madly filled in the necessary booklets and forms, and we sent off our FedEx envelope back to Toronto for processing this Friday. Fingers crossed that we get our first picks, but as we learned last year, it seems difficult to go wrong with such an amazing selection. I mean, even Alan Ball's abyssmal Nothing Is Private (now re-edited and re-titled Towelhead for release this fall) was an unexpected bit of Slow Roll glory.

For your perusal, here are mine and Dan's 10 picks for this year:

- Edison & Leo
- Adela
- The Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World
- Patrik Age 1.5
- The Girl From Monaco
- Cooper's Camera
- Uncertainty
- Tears For Sale
- Dungeon Masters

And here is our collection of backup picks:

- $9.99
- A Film With Me In It
- Universalove
- Detroit Metal City
- Cold Lunch
- Unspoken
- Skin
- Witch Hunt
- Lymelife
- Kisses

Now that I look at it, I'm surprised that only two of our eye-catching documentary faves made it onto the final playlist, but I guess I have more confidence that I'll be able to rent those at some point. I don't know when else I will be able to see an Norwegian film entitled "Cold Lunch."