Fun facts about TIFF

To mark the 36th anniversary of the Toronto International Film Festival, we present some random statistics about this much-loved event.
Actor Emily Blunt encounters fans and paparazzi at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. (Jim Ross/Getty Images)

This year marks the 36th anniversary of the Toronto International Film Festival, which runs Sept. 8-18. To mark the occasion, we present a slew of random facts about TIFF.


The longest film at TIFF 2010 was Mysteries of Lisbon, which runs 272 minutes.

The shortest film at TIFF 2010 was straightscaping, which runs just 20 seconds.

TIFF started life in 1976 as the "Festival of Festivals"; the original idea was to showcase the best material from film fests around the world.

The opening night offering at the first Festival of Festivals in 1976 was Cousin, cousine, a French film.

The first screening in 1976 took place at the Ontario Place Cinesphere.

An admission ticket in 1976 cost two dollars.

A ticket in 2010 cost $19.69.

In 1976, 127 films were shown and 35,000 tickets were sold.

In 2009, 336 films were shown and 500,000 tickets were sold.

In 1976, there were 145 accredited members of the media in attendance.

In 2009, there were 1,104 accredited members of the media in attendance.

The inside of the Elgin Theatre, one of the screening venues for the Toronto film fest. (Malcolm Taylor/Getty Images)

Since 1976, 9,881 films have been screened at TIFF (including features and short films).

Since 1976, 2,199 Canadian films have been screened at TIFF.

339 films were shown at TIFF 2010 (258 features and 81 short films).

The 339 films at TIFF 2010 comprised a total running time of 27,047 minutes.

72 Canadian films were shown at TIFF 2010.

Thirty Canadian feature films were shown at TIFF 2010.

Films from 59 countries were shown at TIFF 2010.

The big prize at TIFF is the People’s Choice Award, which is determined by filmgoers. Previous winners include Precious,Slumdog Millionaire and Hotel Rwanda.

Director Bruce McDonald, a perennial presence at TIFF, made notable comments in 1989. (Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)

After his film Roadkill won the prize for best Canadian film in 1989, director Bruce McDonald said he would spend part of the $25,000 award on "a big chunk of hash" and a "1963 Chrysler LeBaron."

In 1991, Atom Egoyan won the award for best Canadian film for The Adjuster; he gave his entire $25,000 cash prize to a shocked John Pozer, the Vancouver-based director of The Grocer’s Wife.

Thanks largely to its mid-September time slot, TIFF has become the major launching pad for Oscar season — American Beauty, Ray and Slumdog Millionaire all started their successful Academy Award campaigns in Toronto.

One of the first Hollywood stars to visit the festival was Henry (The Fonz) Winkler, who came to Toronto in 1977.

In 1980, French filmmaking legend Jean-Luc Godard attended a retrospective in his honour.

Sacha Baron Cohen arrived for the 2006 premiere of Borat in character, being pulled in a cart by four women dressed as peasants. Mayhem ensued at the screening, as the projector broke down after just a few minutes.

Quebec filmmaker Denys Arcand's The Decline of the American Empire was the opening night film in 1986. It won that year's People's Choice Award and the prize for best Canadian film, then went on to nab an Oscar nomination for best foreign-language film.

In 1982, director Martin Scorsese participated in an onstage Q&A session with film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel.

During a 2005 news conference for A History of Violence, actor Ed Harris threw a glass of water at a wall in an odd attempt to make a point about the nature of violence.

Actor Ed Harris speaks during a news conference for A History of Violence in 2005. Canadian director David Cronenberg is to his right. (Jim Ross/Getty Images)

TIFF is largely responsible for Michael Moore's directing career. His first film, Roger & Me — which traced the economic devastation of Flint, Mich. — won the People's Choice Award at TIFF in 1989 and went on to become one of the highest-grossing documentaries of all time.

In 2009, filmmaker John Greyson, writer Naomi Klein, musician David Byrne, actor Jane Fonda, filmmaker Ken Loach and actor Danny Glover all expressed their displeasure over the festival’s decision to showcase films from Tel Aviv in the "City to City" series. In turn, a group including Jerry Seinfeld and Natalie Portman supported TIFF's choice.

The 1978 premiere of the (mildly) salacious Canadian movie  In Praise of Older Women almost caused a riot, as hundreds of filmgoers were turned away from an oversold screening.

The TIFF Bell Lightbox is located at the corner of King and John Streets and is built on property previously owned by Clara and Leslie Reitman, the parents of Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman.

Construction on the Lightbox started in 2007.

In 2006, actor Sean Penn decided to smoke a cigarette during a TIFF media conference. It caused a significant kerfuffle, as the Sutton Place Hotel was fined $600 by Toronto Public Health. Penn avoided a personal financial penalty because he hadn’t been told about the law that bans smoking in enclosed places across Ontario.

After the cataclysmic events of Sept. 11, 2001, the screens went dark at TIFF and all interviews were cancelled. The proceedings resumed on the following day, but on a much more sombre note — the normal round of partying was scrapped.

TIFF has an estimated annual economic impact of $170 million.