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TIFF ’18 Recap

by Raquel Stecher

And just like that TIFF was over.

During my 5 days at TIFF, I watched 12 movies and one television mini-series, attended the Share Her Journey rally and went to two press conferences. I spent hours fine-tuning a very carefully arranged itinerary that included screenings and events with plenty of back-ups and a few breaks for writing, eating and sleeping. I was lucky enough to have gotten into every event I wanted to. Thanks to my extensive training at six different TCM Classic Film Festivals, I learned that if you want to get into a highly sought after event, you need to be willing to show up early and wait for a long time. This helped immensely!



As a member of the press, I received a badge that had my photo, name, my outlets, an indicator noting general access to press events and a QR code for scanning. My pass was scanned for any press and industry events and screenings I attend. If I attended a public screening then my ticket was scanned instead (although for some reason none of my tickets scanned and had to be manually entered). When I checked in I was given a 2018 TIFF tote, a full schedule, some other printed materials and an external battery courtesy of Showtime. Press has access to an all day press lounge where there is Wi-Fi, computers and a seating area for working. They also supply free coffee and tea, breakfast and lunch items like banana bread, fruit, sandwiches, salad, etc. There are also TIFF staff members on hand to field any questions and set up interviews.

Over the 11 days of TIFF, there are hundreds of screenings and special events. 245 feature films plus over 50 shorts made the roster. Each film got anywhere from 2-5 different screenings but the average was 3.

Press and Industry Screening: These screenings are first come, first serve for anyone who has a press or industry badge. For members of the press, the badges were marked A for general access and P for priority access. I just had an A which meant I had to line-up. Priority press can skip the line. These are just regular screenings. There is no introduction and no special guests. If a movie is for sale, the audience might be made up primarily of buyers looking to see if they want to purchase the movie for distribution. For press, these screenings are useful especially if you plan on interviewing the director/cast during a junket, 1:1 sit down, on the red carpet or if you plan on attending a press conference. P&I screenings are usually in the morning and afternoon which is convenient because it opens up the evening for other events. Unfortunately, these screenings tend to have a lot walk-outs. I experienced this on two different occasions. In one almost half the patrons left. In another I estimated about 30 peopled walked out. If the buyers are not interested in the movie after watching it for 20-30 minutes they leave to go to something else. And if press doesn’t think they want to review, they might do the same. I only left to use the washroom.

Public Screening: As a member of the press I was allowed up to 10 public screening tickets. A couple days before the festival starts, TIFF opens up booking to accredited press. I picked my public screenings in advance (I chose 4) and then booked my tickets through Ticketmaster. Public screenings are a mix of gala presentations (with red carpet), special presentations and regular screenings. There is usually an introduction before and a panel interview or audience Q&A, or sometimes a mix of both, after the screening.  I regret not booking all 10 of my available tickets for public screenings because these proved to be a much better movie going experience than the P&I screenings. One downside to public screenings is that they’re usually in the evening, especially if a red carpet event is involved.

Private Screening:  Film publicists will invite members of the press and potential buyers to exclusive private screenings. These are not accessible on the TIFF main schedule and you have to be invited to attend. I was invited to one for Colette but decided to attend a P&I screening as well. Since I’ve never been to one of these I don’t know if they differ from a regular P&I screening or not.

Over the 5 days I attended the following:

Press & Industry screenings:

Assassination Nation
The Quietude
Prosecuting Evil
A Star is Born
Red Joan
Tell it to the Bees

Public Screenings

The Wedding Guest
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
The Good Girls
The Old Man & the Gun

Other events

A Star is Born Press Conference
Colette Press Conference
Share Her Journey rally

Key takeaways:

  • At public screenings, the announcer giving the introduction always makes a point to thank the indigenous tribes whose land that particular theater stands on.
  • Show up early! I got into every event I wanted to get into, especially the highly coveted A Star is Born Press Conference and P&I screening because I showed up really early and was willing to stand in line.
  • With that said, I felt like there was no real rush to get from one screening to another.
  • Volunteers are super helpful and friendly and can direct you to where you need to be. Most lines were handled very well, with only a couple exceptions. In one case I stepped in and even helped the volunteer organize the line. These volunteers work year round and are given special benefits like free tickets to screenings.
  • TIFF attendees are serious film lovers and not necessarily celebrity hunters.
  • The TIFF Bell Lightbox came in very handy for bathroom access, charging my iPhone and for use of the press lounge.
  • E-mails! So many e-mails! I estimated that I received 350 TIFF related emails from publicists, TIFF press office, etc. And I’m sure priority press got flooded with many more.

If you want to learn more about TIFF, I encourage you to check out my Ask Me Anything: TIFF Edition post for even more details.

I still have several TIFF movie reviews left so stay tuned!


Film Festivals


4 thoughts on “TIFF ’18 Recap Leave a comment

  1. Thanks so much for this detailed explanation, Raquel, I was really interested to read it all and learn how this festival “works.” And I can’t believe the number of emails!!!

    Best wishes,

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