Organizers used drive-in theatres and virtual screenings to keep the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) going during the global pandemic over the previous two years.
However, the full, in-person festival returns to the city on Thursday with more than 60 world premieres, along with a significant infusion of Hollywood stars.
Here is what you need to know about navigating the 10-day festival, whether you are a first-time attendee or a seasoned TIFF veteran who could not travel to Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Film Screenings Locations
Film screenings will be at more than a dozen locations, most of which are in the city’s Entertainment District.
Some of the biggest gala screenings, including the opening night film “The Swimmers,” will be held at the 2,500-seat Roy Thomson Hall.
While there are many distinctive, one-of-a-kind locations to pick from at TIFF, few allow viewers to experience the ‘glitz and glam’ of the festival like Roy Thomson, according to film critic Richard Crouse.
Films set for gala screenings at Roy Thomson include Black Ice, a documentary that closely examines anti-Black racism in hockey and is one of the movies scheduled for gala screenings at Roy Thomson Hall this year. It was executive produced by Drake and LeBron James.
In addition, the psychological thriller “Alice, Darling,” starring Anna Kendrick, and the movie “Butcher’s Crossing,” with Nicolas Cage playing the main role, will have their global premieres at Roy Thomson.
A special screening of “Nope,” followed by a Q&A with acclaimed director Jordan Peele on September 12, will be shown at the renowned Cinesphere at Ontario Place and Roy Thomson Hall as part of TIFF.
The festival’s main location will be the Scotiabank Arena, which has 11 separate screening rooms. In addition, the 115-year-old Royal Alexandria Theatre will host several TIFF screenings this year. Other locations includes the Princes of Wales Theatre and TIFF Bell Lightbox in a collection of locations on King Street.
Movies To Watch
During the 10-day festival, more than 200 movies are scheduled to be shown, while 63 of them will have their world premieres at TIFF.
The Fablemans, directed by Steven Spielberg, has already generated a lot of publicity. Because it largely recounts the director’s youth, it will be the director’s first film and possibly his most personal entry to the festival.
Other noteworthy movies making their TIFF debuts include Sally El Hosaini’s “The Swimmers” and Gina Prince-“The Bythewood’s Woman King.”
The new “Weird” Al Yankovic biography starring Daniel Radcliffe has been equally popular. It will have four screenings during TIFF, with the premiere preceding the event’s well-liked Midnight Madness program.
Film critic Richard Crouse expressed his excitement for a Canadian movie, ‘I Like Movies,’ which is based on the director’s lifelong passion for movies and begans while he was working at a Burlington Blockbuster in the early 2000s.
Crouse’s other favourite is “Moonage Daydream,” a documentary about David Bowie, calling it “an immersive experience that overwhelms you with music and visual.”
How To Get Tickets
After becoming available to the general public on Monday, many of the most eagerly awaited TIFF screenings saw quick sales of tickets.
However, fans can still get into some sold-out showings by waiting in the rush line outside the theatre before the screening.
Additionally, TIFF will host several free screenings of vintage films at David Peacaut Square. Likewise, King Street will be closed between Peter Street and University Avenue from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. for the festival’s first four days to celebrate.
How To Get a Peek at Hollywood Celebrities
According to Wong, one of the intriguing aspects of the festival’s return in full after scaled-down iterations in 2020 and 2021 is that many well-known locations for celebrities have changed.
Wong predicts that the recently opened Ace Hotel at Adelaide Street and Spadina Avenue and the Bisha Hotel on John Street would be hangout spots for celebs.
In terms of restaurants, he claimed that Patria and Marbl on King Street West would be stars and casts assured places to eat for dinners following premieres.
Similar remarks can be made about Yorkville’s Sofia Restaurant & Bar that hosted Jennifer Lopez during the 2019 festival.
However, Wong claimed that a lot of it just comes down to “luck” when it comes to stargazing at TIFF.
Nevertheless there are specific fan zones set up beside red carpets, fans who want to view their favourite actor or actress up close can always arrive early and try to obtain a wrist bracelet, according to Wong.
Creating a Schedule
This year, TIFF will feature a wide range of movies, from indie movies to Hollywood blockbusters and everything in between.
Several meetings with influential figures from Hollywood are also planned, one of which will feature Taylor Swift and focus on some of the visual elements of her music.
Bailey, the festival’s CEO, served as the festival’s artistic director for several years before becoming CEO in 2021. According to Bailey, everybody participating in TIFF should “make a plan” but be ready to change course.
While at TIFF, Crouse urged attendees to “broaden their horizons” as much as possible. Despite the temptation of attending the huge screenings with the big actors, he claimed that occasionally the most memorable films are those that may not receive widespread theatrical releases.
A limited few of TIFF’s official picks will be made accessible for paid online streaming. However, its virtual program has been drastically reduced compared to the previous two festivals.
The virtual screenings are solely meant to provide people outside of Canada a “taste” of the complete in-person festival, according to Bailey, who claimed this is mostly on purpose.
Bailey says, “We want people to return to the theatres.” It is still the ideal way to see a movie. The festival concentrates on the live and the group experience of watching a movie together and simply feeling that emotion because you are feeling it in a room with hundreds of other people, he explained.
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