Sunday, September 07, 2008

TIFF 2008: Biting the Hand that Feeds

It's been four days now and I've managed to see only two of the Midnight Movie selections at Press/Industry screenings. This kind of blows. In years past the MM flicks where shown--gasp--more than once (sometimes) and usually the day of or day before their Midnight screening in order to allow reviews of these films to run in a timely manner. As it is, I'm two Midnight Madness movies behind. Worse, tomorrow there are two MM screenings on Tuesday... within a half hour of one another thanks to the cockamamie P/I programming schedule.

I really am taking umbrage with the screening schedule this year. It used to be that Sunday screenings started a little later due to all the "heavy partying" on Saturday night (not to mention public transportation running late on Sundays). Not this year. As I mentioned, there were eight films that just I wanted to see between 9AM and 10AM today. None of these films are getting a repeat screening with one exception -- Blindness screened at 9AM and 12:30PM meaning that I couldn't see either of these screenings due to my 10AM that lasted past 12:30PM. Not too smart, guys.

Repeat screenings are supposed to happen on different days at generally different times. Likewise, if you're going to have one screening that's at a highly popular time, the other screening should be at a "low traffic time." And, with this whole notion of "Priority Press" screenings, you would think that the "Priority Press" screening should happen first and not after the general P/I screening (as was the case with Burning Plain).

The festival used to be fairly "front loaded" with bigger gala pictures showing for P/I early in the week (Thursday / Friday). Now they're spread out all over, leaving Thursday a gaping wound. I struggled to find things to fill my Thursday just as I struggled to find things to fill my Saturday, just as I struggled today to find something this evening to see. As everything I really wanted to watch played between 9 and 10 this morning, there was little left after my 3:45PM show let out. This lead me down to the Scotiabank to see Babylon A.D.. I'm determined to see four films a day, even if this means I have to pay to see something first run! I'm rather be spending my time watching and writing about movies that really deserve the ink but TIFF isn't allowing me to do that.

Rather than show Flame & Citron, Inju, La Bete Dans L'Ombre, Tears for Sale, or Achilles and the Tortoise (all things on my "I'd like to see" list and all things that played against The Good, The Bad, The Weird and Dead Girl) for a second time this evening for me to review, I was at the first run theater like the rest of the Great Unwashed. C'mon, TIFF, get yer head out of yer ass.

I don't expect every screening configuration to work out but this year's just been sucks for getting that proper blend of interesting films plus available showtimes (with a dash of "convenient theaters" so you're not running around town). Adding additional venues such as the AMC 24 down at Yonge and Dundas should have helped to make more screenings available for P/I folks. It seems that quite the opposite has occurred.


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