Festival Street (King Street West) during TIFF season in early September feels like coming home.
From the opening Thursday to the final Sunday of every year (this past Sunday), Toronto's film fanatics flood Festival Street with starry eyes and happy faces. Generally speaking, TIFF is 10 days of Christmas morning for cinephiles. In just over a week, these happy faces will have seen new movies from all around the world. They’ll talk endlessly about the movies they loved, hated and missed out on.
TIFF has been a highlight of my year since 2012. As a Western University film student and avid cinephile, there’s something wonderful about connecting with people just like me: film students who often spend endless hours on iMDB.com.
These global film freaks are distant family to me, bonded by an undying passion for cinema. We speak in giddy tones about the best of the fest, the worst of the worst, and what filmmakers we’ve happened to see or speak to during the week — actress Greta Gerwig was my go-to this year. I thanked Gerwig for her incredible work on Lady Bird and wished her the best of luck on her future endeavours.
TIFF screenings have their small traditions that complicate the whole “cinema as an individual experience” mentality. Yelling “y’arr” during the piracy warning, and clapping during a gruesome Midnight Madness massacre or during the L’Oreal ad with the corny house-music soundtrack. Even if the film itself ends up being a total wash — like The Killing of a Sacred Deer — these little quirks make the experience worthwhile.
But when the film itself is great, it's magic. There’s nothing more satisfying than giving a standing ovation that lasts for minutes at a time. Some of the greatest masterpieces I saw this year are Call Me By Your Name, Lady Bird and The Day After.
The fanatics that stood in line come out of the theatre raving, high off of the adrenaline that can only come from great cinema. Then, it’s on to the next film, on repeat for 10 days.
By the time the last day of the festival rolls around, it's always bittersweet and I can't wait to come home again next year.