Four Days at the Toronto Film Festival

Categories: Travel


I got out of a cab at the Toronto Pearson International airport last night totally exhausted and so ready to go home but really happy that I spent the past four days with great friends eating popcorn and watching movies that ranged from “didn’t-suck” to “inspiring” to “really good”. As I made my way through Customs at the newly renovated and “most improved airport in North America,” I was thinking about all the movies that I saw and which ones I really liked. Honestly, there weren’t many! So why was I so happy with my experience when I didn’t see that many great films? After all, you come to one of the world’s great film festivals hoping to see Oscar-worthy movies before mass consumption. Well, this is my third time to TIFF and every experience has been completely different. I saw Sideways here in 2004 and fell out of my chair laughing! This year, more than 300 movies from 60 plus countries are showing over a two week time span in theatres across the typically crisp and beautiful Fall Toronto background. Many of these films do not have a distributor and are looking to get the financial backing so that they may end up in a theatre near you. Planning your day is fun. It’s like constructing a puzzle of which movie will end in time for the next movie you want to see. It’s scrapping plans to see one movie in favor of another or starting one movie and leaving 40 minutes after it started to scurry to the next. It’s popcorn with real butter and a lot of it. It’s getting up at 7am to get to an 8am screening knowing you’ll probably spend the next 10-12 hours shuffling from theatre to theatre seeing 5, 6, 7 films a day. It’s sometimes hedging your bets and sometimes being totally blown away by a movie that you had no expectations of being great.   It’s the beauty of not knowing. It’s watching James Franco play the developmentally disabled Benjy in The Sound and the Fury and cringing as drool runs out of his mouth, equally impressed and disturbed by his performance. It’s seeing the incredibly talented Kristen Wiig walk through a casino completely nude after buying her own talk show while suffering from bi-polar disorder or being chased by Michael Douglas through the hell of the Mojave desert without shoes. I love seeing a foreign movie that I would never get the chance to see in my home theatre. My favorite movies of TIFF this year included one from Iceland “Life in a Fish Bowl” that tells the intersecting stories of three strangers whose lives will never be the same after meeting each other. When would I normally get to see an Icelandic movie?? And that’s the thing. For four days I was transported to other worlds and planets I’ve never seen and feel emotions that I’ve never felt. Sometimes you feel nothing when you know the filmmaker wanted so badly for you to feel something. And that’s when you realize that the really great filmmaker is rare. Everyone else is just trying. But it’s the effort that’s worth celebrating and showing up for. It’s the time, the effort and the talent that so often misses the mark and yet all these people show up anyway…hoping for something great. That’s why I found myself in a deliriously happy state waiting for my flight back to Chicago. I had just spent the weekend with wonderful friends, waiting in a lot of long lines, eating good food, waiting for magic….and I can’t wait ’til next time!

Top 3 Favorite Movies at TIFF

  1. Hector and the Pursuit of Happiness. A psychiatrist decides to take a trip around the globe searching for what makes people happy. Opens September
  2. Life in a Fish Bowl – Iceland
  3. The Reach  – Michael Douglas stars in a thriller that takes you on an extremely suspenseful cat and mouse game in the Mojave desert. Opens September




  1. Sounds like a hoot and a half. Bet you met up with Renee and you two laughed with popcorn tumbling. James Franco drooling? Troubling thought.
    AYK, Riverdale is now part Indie with Matt Smith moving from Market Street.
    My life is even better!!

    Comment by Rebecca on September 9, 2014 at 10:04 am

  2. You know it! It was such a fun time…and can’t wait til the next festival!

    Comment by Kate Sullivan on September 9, 2014 at 3:46 pm

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