My 2022 TIFF Experience

TIFF 2022 Wrap-Up – Josh at the Movies

TIFF! As the 2022 TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) season has come to a close I wanted to reflect on and share my experience at this year's festival. I had such an amazing experience at TIFF both as a fan of the festival and for the first time, as a volunteer! Going into the festival, I was worried about the film lineup, since we were missing a lot of the bigger films that TIFF normally has. For example, last year with DUNE or the 2019 season with Joker, Jo Jo Rabbit, and Knives Out. This year we had films like The Whale, Glass Onion (Knives Out 2), and The Woman King, but really we were missing that list of big films like TIFF normally does. I was lucky enough to be able to go out and see a lot of films, and it was really cool to see the festival and festival street so busy, especially after the pandemic and how weird it was last year.

Last year, I saw Dune and Last Night in Soho, which were both amazing films. The theatres were at half capacity and everyone was wearing masks, so it didn't feel the same. This year the festival feels like it has more life to it. Everyone seemed so excited to see these films, and festival street on King st was absolutely packed. This year was such a different experience and in my opinion so much better.

This was my first year volunteering for the festival and I will definitely be volunteering again next year. I worked at the Royal Alexandra Theatre and the TIFF Bell Lightbox. In terms of volunteering, these venues offer two different styles of volunteering, but personally, I enjoyed volunteering at the Royal Alexandra Theatre more. If you prefer a more fast-paced environment than the TIFF Bell Lightbox is a great choice, however, I found it lonely standing by myself directing people. Not all the positions are like this, so be careful what you choose - especially for those long shifts! Since the Royal Alexandra Theatre runs only one showing at a time, it made for a much slower-paced environment. This was nice because you have a bit of downtime to get to know the people you are working with which makes for a much more enjoyable experience. The more times I worked at Royal Alexandra Theatre the more familiar I was with the building, its staff, and other volunteers which also contributed to the experience. 

One experience I had while volunteering at the Royal Alexandra Theatre was at the end of one of the showings of Sidney, when our volunteer group was able to watch the end of the film's panel. One of the panellists being Oprah Winfrey. I was an outside volunteer so I helped with line management most of the time. When I was helping monitor the rush line, I happened to be on the side of the building that shared a street with the entrance to the RBC Lounge. As I was giving someone directions, I just happened to see Jennifer Lawrence walk into the lounge behind them. Later she came out again and someone accidentally hit her in the eye as she was trying to get into her limo. Super weird but cool story … thanks Royal Alexandra Theatre.

Most of the jobs include line management, scanning tickets, directions, and things like that. All odd jobs that don’t take a lot of training/skill. All of the captains were amazing and really nice people. You could tell they really cared about making it a great experience for the public and the volunteers. A lot of them have been volunteering for years and have some really cool stories about past festivals, movies they have seen, and celebrities they have run into. As a volunteer, you also get some great perks such as free movie vouchers that could be used for any film. So depending on if you used it for films that were $15, $30, or even $40 you could really get great value out of them pretty quickly.

I am a really big fan of TIFF, so when I wasn’t volunteering, at school, or at work, I was getting the most that I could out of the festival. The first Saturday I was there the entire day, where I was able to see Bros and Black Ice back to back at Roy Thompson Hall. Both were amazing films and I had a really good time, the whole cast came out before they showed Bros, and the athletes from Black Ice all came out after the premier of their documentary. I got to see celebrities like PK Subban and Nazem Kadri, and James Rash from Community. I was able to go see films like Alice Darling, Causeway, In conversation with Eddie Redmayne, and Weird: The Al Yankovich Story. I got to see Daniel Radcliffe at the premiere at the Royal Alexandra theatre and as a Harry Potter fan that was a surreal experience. I also happened to find out where the celebrity’s cars were parked behind the Royal Alexandra/ Princess of Whales theatres and after The Good Nurse premier got out I was able to see Eddie Redmayne and Jessica Chastaine come out to their vehicles that were labelled with the Netflix logo in the windshield. So I got to see some really cool people that I wouldn’t be able to see all in one place like this.

TIFF is such an accessible film festival to see celebrities and get tickets. My tip is if you want to get tickets to the big films you basically have to buy the membership. It does not guarantee that you will get tickets, but it is really the only way to even have a chance at the big premiers. This year it was a little chaotic (thank you Ticketmaster), so I, unfortunately, spent about two hours staring at my screen, freaking out, and refreshing my screen every five minutes which was not very fun. This year I made a list of all the films I wanted to see, the times they were running, and when I was available to go see them. This made it easier to select and purchase the films I wanted more efficiently. If you are a student I highly recommend taking advantage of the student discounted memberships. 

Another thing I recommend is rush lines! At TIFF tickets are never sold out. They will be labelled as on sale or off sale. This means there are no tickets available right now but that does not mean that tickets will not become available. They get a lot of no-shows and will typically have a few tickets to give away to whoever is in these rush lines. Additionally, this is where people with extra tickets, or who can no longer go and want to give away or sell their tickets will go to find people who want to see the film. So if you didn’t get tickets to a film you want, maybe give the rush line a try. For bigger films, I do recommend going early by at least a few hours before the film if you want to try the rush line.

Overall, I love this festival and this year it was everything I hoped it would be. I am so grateful that I was able to go and see all of these films and for the insider experience I had as a volunteer. The staff and the crowds were great, it was nice to see so many people come out to enjoy the festival and bring some vibrancy back into the city. I would definitely recommend volunteering if you have the time, I was able to meet and connect with some really cool people and I look forward to the festival next year. 


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