With the 41st Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in full swing, it felt like the right time to explain what actually goes on at the cinema celebration, for both movie fans and those who make the yearly pilgrimage north to work. I am a little bit of both, so here’s a peek at just one my days here at the 2016 edition.
The schedule is always tight, so it’s just toast and coffee for breakfast, then out the door, a brisk 10-minute walk to the big movie palace that’s screening the intense “Nocturnal Animals” at 9 a.m., which means you have to be in line at 8 to assure getting a seat. The Canadian fellow in front of me pegged me as an American and immediately started questioning me, not about films I’ve seen, but about how embarrassed I must be by Donald Trump. We became fast friends.
After the film, I made a beeline to the TIFF Media Lounge, as I owed a review of “Snowden,” a film I had seen the previous week. Crafty festival veterans know where to find free lunch — yes, there is such a thing — which was my next stop, and happened to be where I realized my cell phone service — calls, texts, Internet — had been cut off. Frantic calls on a friend’s phone had it returned an hour later.
Then it was time for an interview across town, a subway ride away, at the Four Seasons. It was a pretty cool ride; I think that was Kiefer Sutherland standing across from me; I couldn’t be sure.
But when I got to the hotel, I realized I was looking at the wrong page of my schedule, and was supposed to be at the Ritz, right near where I initially got on the subway. The interview was set to happen in 15 minutes. I hopped in a cab, which got into a huge traffic jam. I called the studio publicist to say I’d be late, and was told I wasn’t supposed to do the interview till the next day.
Silence. Deep breath. “What!!!” No, it wasn’t my fault this time. The publicist had screwed it up, apologized, and gave me a time for the next day. I had the cab driver drop me off close to TIFF central — more free food — but once on foot I got caught up in the craziness of a mob scene: People waiting outside of a theater because Leo DiCaprio was inside.
Some maneuvering around them got me to another long line for a screening of a long and confusing, but gorgeously shot epic film called “The Duelist” at a huge multi-auditorium Cineplex, where the escalator was broken, and everyone had to hoof it up 67 steps. The discussion with someone in line during that wait became an argument, of sorts, about what really happened to which characters in the last 15 minutes of “La La Land.”
A quick dinner at a nearby restaurant — yeah, I had to pay — was followed by another movie, the low-budget science fictioner “ARQ.” The waiting in line discussion for that one was whether or not Oliver Stone had lost his directing chops.
As of this writing, I’m getting ready to see my 11th film of the fest, and am prepping questions for an interview with Ryan Gosling. Maybe he can tell me about the ending of “La La Land.”
— Ed Symkus covers movies for More Content Now.