When you’re a film-goer with a purse full of vouchers to burn, every option available at TIFF can be a bit of a crapshoot.
You can try buying tickets online. Providing there are actually tickets for your desired movie when you click the “BUY TICKETS” button.
Or, you could go to the TIFF box office and hope that when you ask the film(s) of your choice, the box office cashier gives you the right answer.
Then, there are the rush lines. The mother of all crapshoots.
It’s this option Renée and I attempted, not once, but twice, on Saturday.
After our TERRIBLE ticket selection berth, we decided to make a Hail Mary pass and brave the rush line for the only non-premium screening of The Fifth Estate. We figured we’d never see all three movies with Benedict Cumberbatch. But if we were going to try for one, this would be it.
We met at 10 a.m. in the pouring rain, and surfaced at Yonge and Dundas just before 10:30. And when we did, we saw the lineup that wrapped around the block from the theatre where the film was showing.
Sweet merciful shit-snacks.
We crossed the street and follow the line … down Shuter … along Victoria … ALL the way around to Queen Street East. And waited.
Roughly five minutes later, a volunteer appeared, and it was through her we discovered we were in the ticket-holder’s line. But there was ZERO signage to indicate this. So we turned around and joined the rush ticket line “behind” us, snaking towards the theatre entrance on Yonge Street.
Unlike the previous line, this one wasn’t as long. But I was still torn between remaining optimistic, and becoming downright skeptical about getting in. I mean, it was the OPENING MOVIE of the FESTIVAL. Surely our chances were slim?
A man came by, offering up his Fifth Estate tickets for cash. Renée and I sort of perked up and looked at each other. But that moment of hesitation cost us – a couple of younger women ahead of us (they sounded like they were from France) snapped up those tickets.
Probably just as well, we thought. We had vouchers. So, good for those two.
Then, a guy wearing a headset and a soggy blazer, carrying a clipboard, was making the rounds. He was asking who was in line for The Fifth Estate, and who wanted to see The Railway Man (starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman). Seems just as many people wanted to see the latter as the former … which seemed to shrink that rush line even further. Maybe we had a chance.
As we continued to wait in the rain, a woman wearing a leather jacket emerged from a white SUV. Seems SHE had two tickets for The Fifth Estate she was trying to offload for $45. She started near the front, but not with much luck. She got to us and made her offer. I whipped out my wallet, only to discover I only had $40. Too bad. She moved along.
Almost, but not quite. Oh well. We were close to the front of the rush line anyhow …
Not even five minutes later, the woman – getting wet and extremely cranky – still had her tickets. Seemed no one had the cash – or enough cash. She groused about getting wet, and I still had my money.
“You know if we do this, we’ll lose our place in line, right?” asked Renée.
“Yup,” I said. “Let’s do this.”
Seconds later, we were the lucky recipients of two tickets. A small victory – won!
While we waited, we spoke to a woman who was going to see the movie with her two sisters. We shared our stories of frustration with the film selection system, and she offered some insight from her perspective as a veteran TIFF-goer.
We finally got inside the theatre some 30 or so minutes later, and actually got some seating with decent sightlines. The only quibble is, unlike modern movie theatres with their stadium seating, this was an old venue, so I doubt anyone in that theatre didn’t have a head blocking a small portion of the screen.
But the film was decent, if a bit heavy-handed. The performances were definitely what made the movie. It was definitely a good start to our film-going experience.
Feeling a bit emboldened, we decided we’d see a second movie. But what?
After scrolling through the schedule, we decided on a small foreign comedy, All About The Feathers.
Set in Costa Rica, it’s the story of Chalo, a security guard who dreams of buying a rooster so he can get into cockfighting. We’re also introduced to the small rag-tag group of friends he makes in the process.
This rush experience was the complete opposite of what we just experienced.
For starters, when we got to the venue to queue for tickets, there was only ONE other person ahead of us on the rush list. Renée went in to the box office and had the tickets in a matter of minutes.
Then, there was the obvious contrast between the two films. Unlike The Fifth Estate – which had relatively known actors and an enormous budget behind it – All About The Feathers was done on a $35,000 budget, with roughly $16,500 coming from 273 Indiegogo supporters, and had a cast of people, save for perhaps three, who had never acted before.
And not only was the director of the film, Neto Villalobos, actually in attendance, we had the privilege of having a Q & A with him afterwards.
We left the downtown core happier, and perhaps a wee bit high off our TIFF experience. But, it’s still early in the festival. We’ll see what else happens.