Sunday, September 9, 2007

Film Festival Insanity

I would like to rant for a moment about the Toronto International Film Festival. In years past, during the first year of University, during my days when I aspired to be a filmmaker, to learn and meet like-minded people, I attended the TIFF. I volunteered at the TIFF. In truth I only volunteered for one year and I attended screenings for several but overall, despite the long lineups to get tickets and my constantly forgetting to get advanced tix, the festival experience has always been enjoyable and I considered it a healthy place for films, filmmakers and film-goers alike to be.

I have made no effort to attend the festival for the past 3 years. The reason, mostly because I was focused on trying to work in the film industry and admittedly I became a little jaded. There were films by people I knew that got into the festival and I was happy they were made, happy they got some acknowledgment but did not at all believe they deserved as much "attention" as they did. Being accepted in one prestigious festival becomes a stepping stone to getting accepted in other festivals world-wide. Understandable. It gains the movie a greater world-wide audience. Great! Maybe it is just jealousy but the process is quite unjust. A lot of this world obviously has to do with creatively promoting yourself and the film. Fine! But that is not my biggest beef.

3 years after my hiatus from film festival attendance, I thought I would check it out, consider some films and go to a few screenings this year. In fact, the movie I worked on last year is screening this Tuesday. I would love to see it even if I have doubts on its final outcome. I know it's a little late to get prime movie tickets but whatever, I just wanted a taste of something new, which is a huge part of what the festival experience should be, in my humble opinion. First off, festival organizers decided to go with their own domain this year, instead of under the old Bell domain. That is a royal fuck up! That's 1! 2: The festival has gotten so big, the site's traffic is huge and the few nights before festival began, the site was completely non-functional. 3: Finally the site is up and running and how much are they charging for a single movie? Not a gala, just a good old run-of-the-mill movie. $19.34!!! Prices do not include GST, building fund fee and service charges.

Jesus! What is happening to this world!?!?! Who cares if there are more celebrities and stars coming into the festival?! I think it's great if they come but the movie-goer should not be paying the tab! It's a big schmooz fest anyways, they can afford to come promote their movies! They can afford the luxuries. The studios, sponsors & advertisers can afford all this! Why in the hell are WE paying $20 bucks for a movie? Not to mention the hassle of trying to get downtown during festival season, parking, the markups on services & having to tolerate the sheer stupidity & insanity that happens at this time?

I think it is great that the Toronto International Film Festival is a big tourist attraction, that it marks Toronto & Canada as an important capital in film making. All that is wonderful in helping promote Canada's up and coming film makers & new studios, etc. But like other aspects of this business that our country seems to always struggle with, we have to stop catering strictly to the greed & glitz aspects, and find more balance and space for the people who just want a refreshing look at movies they will never get to see otherwise. I am sorry but I am NOT paying $20 dollars to see something I'm not really sure I would like. It doesn't guarantee me a glimpse of the back of Brad Pitt's head, it doesn't even guarantee me that I will enjoy whatever movie I bought the ticket for. The only thing I wanted was for something new. For the price of a regular movie ticket, yeah I might experiment and see a few but not for 20 bucks.

Call me a cheapskate but this is not the way it should be! As blasphemous as this will sound to all my filmmaker friends, I think people should boycott this fucking film festival and force the organizers to get it back to the way it was. The TIFF organizing committee can shove their golden tickets up their ass!

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