The following post originally appeared on Sean's blog, Sean Kelly on Movies.
We are only a week away from the 2013 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival! The film announcements have been long since finalized and the only thing left to do is to secure tickets the festival screenings. The best way to do this would've been to to pick up one of the many ticket packages TIFF had on sale, which would've allowed you to see multiple films for much less than the price of single tickets. While it's now too late to take advantage of TIFF's ticket packages, it's still possible to get single tickets, which go on sale Sept. 1. This is the method that I use and I have refined my process over a decade of attending TIFF. As such, I thought that I would give some tips to help save you from disappointment when you arrive at the box office.
Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More
The biggest mistake I made when I attended my first TIFF back in 2003 is that I only came prepared with two film screenings, both of which were off-sale when I arrived at the box office. As a result, I make sure to have as many film choices as possible prepared when I go to buy tickets. Always make sure to have at least one alternate choice for every film screening you want to attend (I actually choose up to four alternate choices). Also there's a few forums online (such as this one), which keep track of which films have gone off-sale (definitely a good fact to know).
Since it can be a daunting task the choose films, there are many tools you can use to help. The best tool from the last few years is a website called TIFFR, which allows you to add TIFF films to a shortlist and plot them to your own personal schedule. It has definitely been a major help for me. You should also make sure to have a copy of the Official Film Schedule and reference the TIFF website and/or programme guide for film descriptions.
Budget for Screenings
The price of a single tickets this year (for an adult) is $23.50 for regular screenings and $45 for premium screenings (i.e. high profile premieres). As such, you should make sure to choose enough films that meet your budget. The best method of payment would be cash, debit, or VISA (though for the last few years, other credit cards have been accepted).
If you are a member of TIFF's volunteer programme, you will get a voucher for every shift you complete. These can be redeemed at the box office for advance tickets to regular screenings, as well as select premium screenings on a RUSH basis. It definitely helps for more cash-strapped individuals.
Buy Tickets as Early as Possible
The Festival Box Office at 225 King Street West opens for single ticket sale at 9 am on Sept. 1. It has become the habit of hardcore cinephiles to actually camp out the night before, in order to acquire the best tickets. While camping out isn't really that necessary, it is highly recommended that you buy tickets as soon as you can, preferably on the first day of ticket sales. Since the online ordering system can sometimes be unreliable on the first day, it is best to wake-up early and head to the box office in person (I recommend arriving AT LEAST an hour or two before tickets go on sale). While you might find yourself in for a long wait (one year I waited 8 hours in line), you will likely be able to get tickets to most of the screenings you want to see (assuming you arrived well prepared).
Off-sale does NOT mean "Sold Out"
A big pet peeve of mine is when people describe a film at TIFF as being "sold out." The official terminology TIFF uses when tickets are no longer available is "off-sale." This is because many films tend to go back on sale for one reason or another. That's why TIFF asks you to check the the box office everyday at 7am, since that is when additional tickets might be available for purchase. It is only on the day of the screening when the film is officially no longer available and marked "RUSH."
When in doubt, RUSH
If there is a film that you ABSOLUTELY want to see, but you haven't been able to get advanced tickets, there is always the RUSH line. In it's simplest description, the RUSH line is place where you wait on stand-by, in case last minute tickets become available. Usually RUSH tickets are sold 10 minutes before a screening, after most of the ticket holders have been let in, and are CASH-ONLY. There are people who have made waiting in the RUSH line an art, many of whom line-up HOURS before the screening. Personally, I'm not too keep on lining up to MAYBE see a film, however if you are truly desperate to see a certain film, the RUSH line is definitely worth a shot.
Well, that wraps up my tips on getting tickets. Good luck with making your TIFF selections.
Midnight Madness Highlights
A high-school outsider’s plot to revenge herself on the captain of the football team turns bloody when some phantasmagorical hijinks get tossed into the mix, in this refreshingly smart horror comedy from directors Lucky McKee (<em>May</em>, <em>The Woods</em>) and Chris Sivertson (<em>I Know Who Killed Me</em>). (TIFF website, 2013)
A quiet rural town in Maine becomes a raging inferno of axe murders and alien abduction in this lean, mean and grisly indie horror flick. (TIFF website, 2013)
Horror maestro Eli Roth (<em>Hostel</em>) returns to the director’s chair for this gruesome homage to the notorious Italian cannibal movies of the late seventies and early eighties. (TIFF website, 2013)
Years after the mysterious deaths of their parents, a traumatized brother and sister find the cause of their family tragedy: a cursed mirror whose 300-year history has left a bloody trail of destruction in its wake. (TIFF website, 2013)
A public-housing tenement is plunged into a dark storm of supernatural chaos, in this loving tribute to the cult classic Hong Kong horror-comedy series <em>Mr. Vampire</em>. (TIFF website, 2013)
A renegade film crew becomes embroiled with a yakuza clan feud in this wild, perverse and blood-soaked orgy of outrageousness from cult director Sion Sono (<em>Suicide Club</em>). (TIFF website, 2013)
Direct cinema pioneer Frederick Wiseman takes an in-depth look at the preeminent American university during a fall semester that saw a vigorous debate taking place over tuition hikes, budget cuts, and the future of higher education in the United States. (TIFF website 2013)
Barry Avrich’s account of the life of this most unlikely revolutionary of the 1960s counterculture is energetic, iconoclastic and well researched, examining Guccione’s long and audacious career, most notably as publisher of the hugely influential pornographic magazine <em>Penthouse</em> and producer of the porn epic <em>Caligula</em>. (TIFF website 2013)
Director Mark Cousins follows his epic documentary <em>The Story of Film</em> with this globe-spanning rumination on children in the cinema, surveying such classics as <em>The 400 Blows</em>, <em>E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial</em>, <em>Fanny and Alexander</em>,<em> Los Olvidados</em>, and <em>The White Balloon</em>. (TIFF website 2013)
Academy Award-winning filmmaker Errol Morris (<em>The Fog of War</em>, <em>Standard Operating Procedure</em>) continues his exploration of post-9/11 American imperialism with this riveting, feature-length interview with notorious former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. (TIFF website 2013)
Insightful and often hilarious, the latest from documentary filmmaker Alan Zweig surveys the history of Jewish comedy, from the early days of Borsht belt to the present, ultimately exploring not just ethnicity in the entertainment industry, but also the entire unruly question of what it means to be Jewish. (TIFF website 2013)
Canadian Film Highlights
A Toronto theatre director endures a series of creative and personal travails in this affecting and typically inventive new film from Festival favourite Ingrid Veninger (<em>MODRA</em>,<em> i am a good person/i am a bad person</em>). (TIFF website, 2013)
This hilarious, grotesque, and unique adult animated feature chronicles visual artists Seth Scriver and Shayne Ehman’s trans-Canadian road trip as they encounter dull violence, rampant consumerism and unbridled eccentricity in small towns all over this wide, weird country. (TIFF website, 2013)
Three generations of First Nations women struggle to deal with the demons of their past, in this powerful and affecting drama from actor-turned-director Peter Stebbings (<em>Defendor</em>). (TIFF website, 2013)
Denis Villenueve (<em>Incendies</em>) will be doing double duty at this year’s festival, since this announcement follows the previous announcement of Prisoners. Enemy sees Jake Gyllenhaal playing a University professor, who encounters his exact double. That’s all the information I need to be interested in this thriller. - Sean Kelly
<em>FUBAR</em> and <em>Goon</em> director Michael Dowse makes a surprising swerve into sweetness with this winning romantic comedy starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan. (TIFF website, 2013)
Saddled with a lousy job, an infant son, and a wife doing jail time for sleeping with a 14-year-old, a disgruntled Toronto ad-agency employee struggles to deal with his impotent rage, in this gutsy black comedy from beloved Canadian maverick Bruce McDonald. (TIFF website, 2013)
This latest work from Canada’s endlessly inventive and provocative Xavier Dolan (<em>J'ai tué ma mere</em>, <em>Laurence Anyways</em>) follows a grief-stricken man who visits his dead lover’s parents — only to discover that they were unaware of their son’s sexual orientation. (TIFF website, 2013)
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