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Film Festival Experiences

Old 09-18-12, 09:52 AM
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re: Film Festival Experiences

Originally Posted by Brian T View Post
While generally true, and probably even TIFF policy, I have witnessed rare occasions where those VIP seats have sat empty for entire screenings, and "regular" visitors asking about them have been rebuffed, sometimes quite rudely, as if they were children, and sent down to the front row wasteland, which brings me to . . .



Interesting revelation there. So were your seven screenings on the house? If so, that's not a bad form of remuneration for putting up with the bozos in the crowd.

Regardless, when it comes to the volunteers, I wholeheartedly agree the festival wouldn't be the same without 'em. My own experience with TIFF volunteers has been, give or take, 95% wonderful, 5% questionable, so I'm not painting everyone with the same brush here. But I'd love to see that 5% reduced closer to zero. The vast majority of volunteers who it should be noted here run the gamuts of age, ethnicity and even disability! are phenomenal in dealing with and/or helping the public with patience, grace and most importantly, infectious smiles (especially the cute girls). But there are a few folks whose performances should be monitored in action, or who should at least be told to keep their bitter mutterings and condescending manner to themselves no matter how many idiots and assholes come their way, at least until all paying customers are out of earshot.

As a paying customer, I've had to deal with a handful of idiots and assholes volnteering for the festival over the past fifteen years. They are exceptions, not the rule, but a precious few of them get a headset and seem to think they're AD's hustling extras on a movie set (thus my "cattle" comment) rather than guests paying nearly double the going rate to see a picture (including for screenings without intros and Q&As). Donating one's time is no reason to treat everyone like children just because, inevitably, some of the guests deserve it. (and believe me, I'm well aware that some people deserve it and much worse especially in the Midnight crowds). It's like any "service" job," even though you're not paid for it; you're supposed to make all guests feel welcome, happy, even excited, not make them feel like juveniles because a few bad apples have earned your disdain, or because one guest asks you the same "dumb" question already asked by three other people, or because they don't proceed in satisfactory quantities through the second doorway you tell them is available to speed up the process (and you certainly shouldn't smarmily faint-applaud those who do!). Nothing personal, but I don't want to see that you're having a bad day. Nearly all TIFF volunteers seem to understand this, but there's invariably a few who wear their hostility on their sleeves. I don't care how trying a volunteer's shift is; I don't want my experience to be likewise trying because of it. That's not what I paid for. Thankfully, as I've said, these are rare exceptions, and I wouldn't be surprised if similar situations exist at every film festival out there. It's a black eye no matter where it happens.

In the end, though, it comes down to this: film festivals are not without issues that drive volunteers, employees and paying audience members into barely-concealable rages. After all, the logistics of such an endeavour are staggering. But after everyone's in their seats, the volunteers and staff have uncoiled, the intros are over, the lights go down, the cel phones go off, and the year's irritating sponsor commercial unspools for the umpteenth time, that's when the experience becomes magic . . .

And that's why everyone here needs to try it at least once.

Mr. T, do you have a blog? If not, you should.
Old 09-20-12, 02:48 PM
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re: Film Festival Experiences

Originally Posted by Defiant1 View Post
Oh, I'll fully agree that there are some volunteers (thankfully in the minority) who take whatever little power they have and go into full asshole mode. You'll never get 100% satisfaction on either side of the fence. The people with the headsets do have a pretty tough job as there are usually a dozen conversations going on in their ears simultaneously that Bradley Cooper only wants Perrier and not Dasani, a sponsor wants 4 seats instead of 2, Halle Berry wants seats even though she isn't even in the movie, 50 people are in the rush line whille there are just 30 seats available, the previous screening ran late and now the next screening will be pushed back, 1000 ticket holders are standing in the rain complaining, the volunteers on the red carpet barricades are getting harassed by overzealous fans, and so on and so on. It's a miracle of logistics that the festival runs relatively smoothly! You don't want to hear about the horror story that happened one year when Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, and Ryan Gosling had back-to-back red carpet premieres.

And yes, we get vouchers for free screenings as reward for our hard work. A nice perk.

Late response here, but I've long figured these kinds of issues were common at a festival the sheer size and scope of TIFF (really, folks, you gotta come see it). But since the money that keeps the festival afloat starts with me and every other paying customer, I don't want to see or hear volunteers reacting negatively toward me or the other cattle just because some diva blows a head gasket or several A-list premieres overlap. In addition to revenue from ticket buyers, the festival is the beneficiary of sizeable donations from generous patrons as well as federal and provincial government largesse (guess who's pocket that comes out of ), but if that alone was enough to float their boat, they wouldn't run that pushy "upsell" telemarketing campaign every year in, oh, about another month or two.

As for the free tickets, having volunteers also hand out free tickets to the public to fill up seats kinda devalues the perk somewhat, not to mention the tickets people paid for.

Still, the fact remains TIFF wouldn't exist without volunteers—and I sympathize with the B.S. you have to deal with from both the hoi polloi and the unwashed masses—but it also wouldn't exist without paying customers (even those who pay half-price with WagJag vouchers on the back half of the fest), and since we pay cash, that should earn us the right not to see anyone shift into "full asshole mode" (good one ).

As you say, though, dissatisfaction exists on both sides of the fence, but in any other transaction where you pay cash for an experience or service, the customer is generally right, even when they're wrong or later proven wrong. Staff, paid or volunteer, should have that reinforced on a regular basis throughout the festival, and if they already do and implement the policy as well as most of you do, then perhaps there should be some kind of "How's My Driving? Call 1-800-YAY-TIFF" customer-feedback conduit so the few bad apples can be spruced up or weeded out.

EDIT: Well, speak of the devil! Just got a survey from TIFF emailed to me moments ago. Haven't looked into it yet, but kinda curious . . .


Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum View Post
Mr. T, do you have a blog? If not, you should.
I do, actually, but it's been dormant since around 1943, so I don't bother adding the link to my posts here. And frankly I'm so infrequently this passionate about anything to generate a worthwile following. It was set up mainly as a review blog for (mostly) Hong Kong movies—especially the thousands of lesser known stuff, rarities and videogrammes I've scored here in Toronto's multiple Chinatowns—until I realized how futile the form has become due to oversaturation, especially when you mostly write capsules as I do. A website or e-book would probably be the bee's knees, but who knows.

Last edited by Brian T; 09-21-12 at 12:45 AM.
Old 09-21-12, 01:34 AM
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re: Film Festival Experiences

So anyways, I took the TIFF survey, and while they did provide a box in which to write suggestions near the end of it, two questions set my teeth grinding every so gently.

Paraphrasing here:

How likely would an increase of $1.50 to the cost of a ticket influence your decision to revisit the festival?

and

If TIFF membership was required to purchase tickets to the festival, how likely would this influence your decision to attend?



TIFF memberships are paid: $99 to $600 for regular members; $1500 and up for the "Patron's Circle"; the more you pay, the more "benefits", etc. They're not inherently bad, but considering making them mandatory in order to then purchase presumably same-priced or higher-priced festival tickets is ridiculous. I don't anticipate many people responding in the affirmative to that.

There were many other questions in the survey, of course, mostly regarding the types of tickets purchased, the effectiveness of the new online ordering system, etc., but I'd bet dollars to donuts that these two little gems were slipped in because festival brass are actually considering them as ways of increasing revenue. Frankly, if they actually lowered the cost of tickets, they might fill up more of those empty seats I've seen at every screening for the past fifteen years, or at least lower the cost of tickets to third screenings since those rarely feature "value added" features like filmmaker intros and Q&As, and as of the past two seasons, audience numbers for them have been artificially inflated by people using half-priced WagJag group-buy vouchers, which instantly devalues the tickets of those of us who paid full price prior to the online deal.

Hopefully they're just fishing right now . . .
Old 07-10-13, 10:44 PM
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re: Film Festival Experiences

Originally Posted by Brian T View Post
Also, for the past two festivals, TIFF has been pairing up with WagJag (a Canada-only version of Groupon) to offer half-price tickets mid-way through the festival. No limits, either. This is nice, but it does tend to make screenings in the back half of the festival a bit more crowded than usual, though still never completely full. It also leaves a lot of inexperienced fest-goers SOL because they decide to come downtown and redeem their WagJag vouchers shortly before showtime, only to discover that most of that day's screenings have "gone rush" hours earlier. If you're able to get a WagJag (or several) midway through next year's fest, redeem them online immediately.
Originally Posted by Brian T View Post
. . . but it also wouldn't exist without paying customers (even those who pay half-price with WagJag vouchers on the back half of the fest) . . .
Originally Posted by Brian T View Post
So anyways, I took the TIFF survey, and . . .

Paraphrasing here:

• How likely would an increase of $1.50 to the cost of a ticket influence your decision to revisit the festival?
Not sure anyone will care about this all these months later, but in case anyone does, and with TIFF just around the corner, I thought I'd update some comments I made earlier in the discussion.

Last point first: ticket prices did indeed go up this year, from $23.38 (tax in) to $24.50 (ditto). It's certainly not a deal breaker, but I can't say I'm totally surprised at this, considering the previously noted lack of sold-out screenings throughout the festival over the years.

As to the first and second quotes above, my most impassioned complaint in last year's TIFF survey involved the WagJag 1/2 price ticket deal, and the fact that for two years running it went live half-way through the festival, much to my frustration having already paid full price for all of my screenings, and presumably much to the frustration of other regular fest-goers, as this year TIFF is offering the "Back Half Pack", a half-price bundle of 6 or 12 (!) tickets to screenings in the latter half of the festival, September 10-15 (which is actually one day more than half of the festival). The six-pack is $68, the 12-pack $138. Undoubtedly the relative success of the WagJag offering -- which successfully near-filled many screenings that otherwise would've unspooled at half or two-thirds capacity, was a deciding factor in the decision to create this package, but I'll pretend that my bitching in an online survey reeeaally tipped the scales. I bought a six to complement my regular-priced 10-pack, but a second is tempting. This tentatively undoes some of the ill will engendered in recent seasons, although I'm curious to see how effectively it all plays out once the existence of these packages becomes widely known, in particular if more people buy them than anything else and what effect that will have on weekend screenings on the 10th, 14th and 15th, (when exponentially more people will have free time). Those are liable to be uncomfortably crowded; I suspect my stress-free routine of not waiting in lineups and instead lingering by the doorway (or in a nearby cafe) until everyone has been let in will need to be reconsidered on those days, forcing me to grin and bear the inevitable grouching of a volunteer or five.

In related news, TIFF announced their first film today:
http://www.thestar.com/entertainment..._festival.html

.
Old 07-11-13, 08:38 AM
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re: Film Festival Experiences

Nice update, Brian T.

In (other) related news, the Calgary International Film Festival has re-introduced their "all in one" pass (now called "EXP PASS"). "The EXP Pass includes one Opening Night Gala ticket and access to over 175 regular screenings. The pass offers flexibility to explore the festival, and the greatest savings of all. A generous allotment of seats is reserved for pass holders at every screening. There may be a few screenings where we reach pass holder capacity and will direct pass holders to another film screening. Pass holders are asked to arrive min 15 minutes prior to showtime." It's $200.

For a smaller festival like CIFF, this is an awesome deal. I had a fantastic time at the festival last year, with only a few duds in the mix. My wife and baby are going to be out of town for the entire duration as well, so it's pretty much a no-brainer for me to pick up the EXP Pass. I just have to remember to feed the cat every day.
Old 07-11-13, 12:58 PM
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re: Film Festival Experiences

My wife and I are going up for the full TIFF this year. We purchased 80 tickets. This will be my first time using the internet ticket process and not having to overnight the ticket requests. Hopefully it will be a smooth process.
Old 07-11-13, 05:25 PM
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re: Film Festival Experiences

Originally Posted by pjflyer View Post
My wife and I are going up for the full TIFF this year. We purchased 80 tickets. This will be my first time using the internet ticket process and not having to overnight the ticket requests. Hopefully it will be a smooth process.
Forty shows? That's gotta require some stamina.

I live in Toronto, on the subway line, and time my holidays specifically for this event, and I'm not certain I could handle 40 screenings! Not that it hasn't been tempting to go for broke so many times over the years, especially after the occasional -- and usually entirely coincidental -- run of several "thumbs up" premieres. You can get stoked pretty easily. I peaked at 22 tickets two years ago, dipped to 16 or so last year, and currently sit at 16 with packages purchased so far, although another one of those Back Half 6-packs is sorely tempting. It's just not knowing how those screenings will pan out that makes me hesitate.

That Calgary Film Fest pass is an interesting idea, but I'm not sure the Toronto Fest could pull it off, and even if they could they'd probably want an arm and a leg, but I like the idea of just wandering into whatever show you feel like, wherever you happen to be. I could swear TIFF had some kind of "all shows" pass once upon a time -- its holders almost certainly would've found seats at most shows in recent years -- but I'm probably misremembering.

Last edited by Brian T; 07-11-13 at 06:05 PM.
Old 09-30-13, 02:58 PM
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re: Film Festival Experiences

I'm bumping this thread because starting a new one would be lame.

CIFF just finished yesterday. I loved having the "EXP PASS" as they call it. Basically, for each screening, they set aside a maximum number of pass holders (in the biggest theatre, it was 50). Each screening had a line for ticket holders and a line for pass holders, and the pass holders line only ever reached the maximum ONCE, for Parkland. Some screenings had a "rush" line for when they weren't 100% sure of how many ticket/pass holders there were. Pass holders got let in first (hell yeah!), so I almost always got the exact seat I wanted (near the back, on the aisle). I went to 21 screenings. Some of them were sets of short films, so I actually saw 67 unique titles totaling 31 hours and 33 minutes of "movies." One of those was a Gala event normally priced at $75, so taking that out of the equation, I spent $6.25/screening. Even including the Gala ticket, it averaged to $9.52/screening. Not bad at all.

Out of everything I saw, there was only one real dud; a micro-budget film that was less than 80 minutes, but felt like it was over 2 hours. Some of the shorts were hit-or-miss... but overall, I enjoyed them. I specifically made an effort to see as many short films as I could.

Anyway... my point is... this was one of my best festival experiences thus far. My only real complaint is that very few screenings actually started right on time. A couple were over 30 minutes late, but most were 5 to 15 minutes later than scheduled.
Old 10-03-13, 11:11 PM
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re: Film Festival Experiences

Originally Posted by gp1086 View Post
The Tribeca Film Festival is near me every year. I went to the website this past year to check out what was playing and seemed nearly impossible for the average person to get tickets to some of bigger titles without dedication.
I go to the NY Film Festival every year -- seats at Alice Tully Hall are assigned so there is no waiting in line, you can show up 5 minutes before the screening and you go right in. ATH is fantastic - huge screen, great projection and sound.
Post film Q&As tend to be excellent.

Become a Film Society member (which is totally worth it for year round discounted tickets) and you get to order your seats before the general public.

That said, you can still get into most movies, especially if there are no big Hollywood stars involved (we are in the middle of this year's festival.) So - go!

Tribeca sucks in comparison -- too spread out, many of the theaters are bad, have to wait in lines, etc. Not worth it -- go to the NYFF - the movies on the average are much better too due to the more limited selection.
Old 08-15-14, 02:13 PM
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re: Film Festival Experiences

So, anyone attending any festivals this year?

I've secured my "EXP Pass" for the Calgary International Film Festival, again. I won't be able to attend nearly as many screenings as last year since my wife and kid are in town this time around, but I'll do my best.
Old 08-17-14, 12:13 AM
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re: Film Festival Experiences

I'm doing TIFF again - bought a 30 ticket pack (haven't selected titles yet).
Old 05-20-20, 05:29 PM
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re: Film Festival Experiences

Didn't know where else to put this, since this is about as close to a "festivals" thread as this forum's ever had, but TIFF here has been doing a series of "Stay-At-Home Cinema" Q&As + screenings that might be of interest. The movies are shown on Crave TV, presumably accessible only to Canadians, but you don't really need them and I'm sure folks elsewhere can find them on their own streaming services or whatever. As far as I can tell, the Q&A videos should be available worldwide. I've watched a few (without the movies, because I've seen them) and some are more enlightening than others, but it seems to have caught on as they're up to 19 so far, with three more in the hopper (Rian Johnson on LOOPER, Tantoo Cardinal on FALLS AROUND HER, and Kate Winslet on SENSE & SENSIBILITY).

Here are the others:Or you can access the collection through the TIFF YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/tiff

Last edited by Brian T; 05-20-20 at 05:38 PM.
Old 07-31-20, 01:49 PM
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re: Film Festival Experiences

TIFF announced their reduced, 50-film lineup today.

Looks like they might be one of the few film festivals happening this year. Won't be the same with all the hubbub, but I might try to see a couple in the theatre if I can get a ticket, especially the Midnight films, and then stream some others if the prices are reasonable.

In this province, phased reopening of theatres begins today, with 25 of them being allowed to admit no more than 50 people into an auditorium. I doubt they'll even get that many, which would be kind of nice as we rarely saw movies with crowds anyway, preferring to wait a week or more to see a show so we wouldn't be surrounded by people. Mind you, we'll still hold off a bit and see if the COVID stats keep declining as TIFF approaches.

I'll miss the crowds at TIFF, though, because at those screenings you knew everyone was there with a shared passion, and they were all over 19.

Last edited by Brian T; 07-31-20 at 02:04 PM.
Old 09-19-22, 04:34 PM
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Re: Film Festival Experiences

Giving this thread a bump.

Brian T, how was TIFF for you this year? What did you see?

I know there are some other members here who attend some festivals... like Fantastic Fest. What are you guys planning on going to and seeing? Any good fests still doing nationwide virtual screenings?

I just got my tickets for NYFF today. Planning on seeing: Walk Up, Corsage, Master Gardener, The Novelist's Film, Aftersun, Bones and All, One Fine Morning, Women Talking, The Eternal Daughter. Missed out on Park Chan-Wook's Decision to Leave, but will see if any drop.

I was looking forward to the Montclair Film Fest, but I will be traveling during most of that this year. Unfortunate, since they will have Glass Onion.

Last edited by dex14; 09-19-22 at 04:41 PM.
Old 09-20-22, 05:25 PM
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My TIFF experience this year was undercut somewhat by a family medical situation. I willingly wrote off about half of my tickets, but managed to attend enough shows (ten in total) to take my mind off things and keep up on what's new.

The festival had fewer films than previous in-person events. I think around 250 this year versus 300+ pre-pandemic. So choosing was easier.

Saw these:

DOCUMENTARY NOW! (first three episodes of the new season) - Great stuff as always, with this season taking on UK docs.
THE BLACKENING - suspect this might be a modest hit, although it leans pretty heavily into character comedy and social commentary – in part rooted in the 'black characters don't survive horror movies' trope. It will inevitably rile the anti-"woke" crowd, but it has a lot of crowd-pleasing moments and gags.
VICTIM - Czech social drama about a mother who becomes a public crusader on behalf of her son after he's beaten by Roma immigrants, until he changes his story.
SICK - John Hyams directs a Kevin Williamson script (co-written with Katelyn Crabb, previously his assistant on the most recent SCREAM entry). It's a good COVID-era home-invasion thriller with unconventional villains that Williamson denied were overly 'political', but they really are, and not on the side you might expect.
PEARL - commented on this one in the dedicated thread.
A MAN OF REASON - Directorial but of top Korean actor Jung Woo-sung. Typically violent kidnapping thriller populated by 'cool' characters without much development. Has a few standout action sequences to compensate, including a phenomenal sequence in which Jung trashes a hotel lobby full of goons with his car.
THE BANSHEES OF INISHERRIN - If there's any talk of awards galore for this one, it's well-deserved. Funny and heartbreaking in equal measure. The often-uproarious humour, while typical of Martin McDonagh, and the desolate Irish island locale combined remind me a lot of the classic Irish TV series FATHER TED, only minus that show's borderline surrealism. And it wisely doesn't tie a neat bow on things, which is how such situations often are in real life.
LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE - An endearing, affirming fantasy from the Philippines about the power of art to heal, with singer Sheila Francisco as a former film director on hard times who, thanks to a carelessly tossed TV, enters a coma and the world of one of her own unfinished screenplays: a spot-on recreation of Filipino action pictures of the 80's. Not sure how much traction it will get over here, but it's quite unique compared with most of the country's contemporary cinema. Much of it was shot years ago, then nearly abandoned when the first-time director couldn't make it work until the shift to a very "meta" framework brought it all together.
WE ARE STILL HERE - Australian-New Zealand anthology by ten directors exploring the harsh realities of indigenous life since colonialism landed 250 years ago. Some great work throughout, but a feeling of succinctness I got was confirmed by one of the directors in the Q&A who admitted the production was rushed and a lot of cuts were made to many of the stories for time. Would like to see some kind of Directors' Cut eventually.
HUNT - Another top Korean star, Lee Jung-jae from SQUID GAME and many other great movies you should've seen before that, makes a much splashier – and far more accomplished – directorial debut in this relentless, reality-based political thriller. Lee co-stars with Jung Woo-sung (at TIFF with his own less-memorable premiere, see above) as two top South Korean KCIA agents racing to expose a mole(s) and prevent the assassination of the successor to also-assasinated dictator Park Chung-hee a few years prior, both eventually suspecting the other guy be the traitor even while surrounded by a gallery of suspects. This one is twisty and complicated, but it does make sense even as it goes wild with double- and triple-crosses and conspiracy theories, so it rewards close attention. But some basic Googling of real-life Korean spy games circa the 1980's (when this is set) will reveal that a lot of the shenanigans on display were indeed business-as-usual. The lengthy shootouts and other action scenes in this one are spectacularly designed.

Overall, it was nice to be back at in-person screenings. Few shows were complete sellouts even when tickets were off sale and rush lines were seated, which was great as I hate lines and don't mind sitting near the back in these giant-screen cinemas.
Old 09-20-22, 06:10 PM
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Re: Film Festival Experiences

Originally Posted by Brian T View Post
WE ARE STILL HERE - Australian-New Zealand anthology by ten directors exploring the harsh realities of indigenous life since colonialism landed 250 years ago. Some great work throughout, but a feeling of succinctness I got was confirmed by one of the directors in the Q&A who admitted the production was rushed and a lot of cuts were made to many of the stories for time. Would like to see some kind of Directors' Cut eventually.
I know it's a different animal but I wonder if the general public will think it's the film from 2015 that's currently on Prime.

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