I'd been looking forward to this festival for quite a while, and after the orientation sessions I was expecting a lot of excitement. I had to get into Toronto very early for most of the shifts I chose, and once I arrived downtown I would grab a coffee and sit in Starbucks until it was time to head to the appropriate volunteer lounge to check in with my Captains.
During most of my volunteer shifts there was a lot of waiting, depending on the venue. The Lightbox was always busy in the atrium early on in the week. I was mainly directing people to the right line on the right floor, sometimes talking to Press and Industry people about odd questions. During a People's Choice Award shift I would usually be holding a box encouraging people to drop in their tickets to vote for that movie when they came out. This was interesting because the buzz after some movies was contagious, and made me add a few to my "to watch" list. One of my shifts at the Princess of Wales Theatre was more what I was expecting when I joined up: I was at the end of the ticket holders' line making sure people were in the right spot. This was a line which grew to almost 1700 people! So, yes. Lots of greeting and later shouting as masses of people showed up. Do you have a Priority ticket? Then you can go to the front of the theatre, oh lucky patron!
As I was there all week I actually saw a lot of "talent," as my captains called them. Most of them I saw on stage, ranging from my being directly near them (Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche) to seeing them from up in the balcony seats (Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong'o, Steve McQueen, etc.). The following talent I was closer to, which doesn't really matter to me personally, but it gives you an idea of how electric the atmosphere can get at a festival like this: Jessica Lange, Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Elizabeth Olsen, Glenn Close, Kevin Kline, Tom Berenger, Meg Tilly...and some other directors and actresses you may not recognize as they were from other countries, like Chile. I shall try to remember their names later. I was really happy I was sitting a few seats away from Kristen Wiig, as it was one of my first Galas (red carpet events) of the festival, as well as the movie that I ended up thinking was my pick for Best-of-Festival: Hateship Loveship. I only vaguely knew of Kristen beforehand, so I had no preconceived idea of how the film might be.
Most of my experience with Rush lines was when I was in them. I was able to line up with tens (sometimes hundreds) of people hoping to get in to see a chosen movie and pay with one of the volunteer vouchers. (You get a voucher, sometimes two, for every shift you do.) I learned the first day that if you were a volunteer you were able to attend Press and Industry screenings which were closed to the public. That gave you a greater chance to see the movie as not every P&I person will go to all the films. Lots of empty seats! I was only turned away for one, Ida, and I guess it was due to the buzz. I made sure to see Ida on one of my free days.
There were also free public screenings of a few movies. I was able to finally see a Yasujirô Ozu's film, An Autumn Afternoon (1962). I've had it on my to-watch list for quite a while! Also, if you are a volunteer, there are often free tickets available from the media office (?) which are released if they are not needed. I saw a great (and a meh) film that way.
There were so many venues to go to to watch movies, but I only went to these because they were so close to each other and from the train station: TIFF Bell Lightbox, Princess of Wales Theatre, Roy Thomson Hall, and the multiplex Scotiabank Theatre.
And here are the films I saw:
Blue is the Warmest Color
The Big Chill
12 Years a Slave
Words and Pictures
An Autumn Afternoon
The Summer of the Flying Fish
A Wolf at the Door
I also Rushed a few I didn't get into, like Gravity and Don Juan. Oh well!
The day after the festival I was prepared to go to the blockbuster volunteer party but considering it was at the dance club the Guvernment I decided to pass even though I got dressed up in a new sequin dress. I was hoping to hang out with a few new friends from TIFF there, but they had had a long week, and going alone made me a bit...nervous. Darn it! I should have grabbed my jeans and went. There is always next year.
P.S. That's me in the photo above, taken by a friend. We're entering the Gala Presentation of The Big Chill from the Priority line at the Princess of Wales. Made me feel special. Apparently I was about to be standing near Glenn Close as she entered on the Red Carpet, but I missed her! D'oh.