Your Guide To: The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)

Hands down, TIFF is my favorite time of the year in Toronto.

For these 10 days in September, the days are still hot, the evenings warm enough to leave your jacket at home, and the fashion is a fun mix of summer and fall. The city (& twitter) is buzzing with the presence of celebrities and the greatest talents from the film industry hanging out in Toronto. The energy is contagious and brings out a sense of comraderie and warmth that Toronto, unfortunately, seems to be lacking the rest of the year.

Navigating the films and ticket purchasing process is overwhelming, time consuming and as of today, July 4th: imminent! I bought my TIFF package today, and thought I’d put a quick “how to” guide together to help you understand the process.

The dates: TIFF ’12 will be from Thursday, September 6th to Sunday, September 16th.

  • You’ve got 2 weekends and 5 weekdays to see films. Films are screened all day long, beginning at about 10am, every single day. Figure out how many movies you want to/ are able to see.
  • Most film screenings include a Question & Answer period following the film to allow the audience to pose questions to the film makers and main actors (my favorite part of the screening!). If you’re seeing multiple films in a day, make sure to leave about 20 minutes in your schedule to stick around for the Q&A’s.
  • Most films have one gala (opening) screening, followed by a couple of other screenings scattered throughout the festival dates. Especially for those films with A and B List celebs, the Gala Openings will include a red carpet, fancy venue and a higher ticket price. Think about whether you want to see the glitz & glamour of a premiere so you can plan around this, too.

Ticket packages are on sale now for TIFF members and VISA cardholders and will go on sale to the general public on July 9th at 10am.

  • Yes: ticket packages are on sale. No: single tickets are not on sale. No: The list of films being screened is not available yet.
  • There are a bunch of different packages available, check them out here. Some packages are called “flex” and will let you choose your films once the list is made public, other packages are curated by industry programmers according to themes (such as this year’s city spotlight on Mumbai, or Canadian film makers, etc.).
  • You can share your ticket packages, no problem. You will be limited to 4 tickets per screening, per package.
  • The flex packages come in increments of 10, making each screening about $16. Individual tickets will run you about $20.

Choosing your films with a package:

  • The film schedule will be available on August 21st, and the subsequent choosing of films will take place online during the specific date/time window you will be given via email.
  • TIFF members get the opportunity to choose first, then all non-members are randomly assigned a window period to either log online, call or go to the box office to choose their films between Aug. 26th and 29th. Tickets are on a first come, first served basis.  Therefore, if there are 200 time slots and you get randomly assigned 150, I would advise you to have a few back-up film choices, because you likely won’t get all of your first picks.
  • You can pick up your physical tickets as of September 4th at the Festival Box Office at 225 King St. W.
  • Note: if you get a “Choice” package, there is no exchange of tickets. For Flex Packages, your tickets can be exchanged at the Box Office for other films.

Single tickets go on sale on Sept. 2nd at 10am.

You can also try and get “rush seats” – those unclaimed seats that have been held for media are released about 20 minutes prior to a film’s screening. When you head to a theatre, there are always ticket holder lines and rush lines.

One final tip: TIFF takes the screenings seriously, there is no late admittance. If you’re running more than 10 minutes late for a show, they won’t let you in so not to disturb the other patrons.

I just bought a 20 ticket pack to share with two friends. This means 7 movies over 10 days for me! Let the excitement begin :)

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