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'AcTIFFities': lessons learned at this year's fest

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Scottish actor Ewan McGregor has trouble doing a convincing American accent, says citizen contributor Christine Estima. (Evan Agostini, Associated Press)

NOTE: This entry was submitted Sept.18.

By Christine Estima, citizen contributor

christine-bio-52.jpgSo TIFF 2010 is winding down. Eleven days of festival madness never seems long enough, does it? And for many of you who have been following the CBC's coverage of this annual event and didn't get the chance to do any acTIFFities of your own, chances are you're making plans for next year. Fewer than 365 days until TIFF 2011! From someone who's experienced and seen a lot from this year's fest, let me provide you with a few tips of what you need to know for TIFF 2011 -- what you must do, and what you must avoid at all costs!

1. Any 'hoax' documentary that doesn't star Sasha Baron Cohen -- Avoid

Casey Affleck has finally admitted that his TIFF documentary I'm Still Here, about the rise and fall of the rapper formerly known as Joaquin Phoenix's shaggy beard, was a hoax. But judging from responses from audiences and critics alike, the real hoax is on the film company that green-lighted this painfully awkward character portrait that's doomed to fail at the box office. Leave the hoaxes to Borat and Banksy, thank you very much.

2. Logging onto Twitter and interacting with the TIFF community -- Must do

Aside from being able to follow celebrities tweeting about TIFF, you can also follow different distribution and promotional accounts that give away free tickets to evening premieres, Q&A sessions, afterparties and meet 'n' greets with the stars. Even everyday TIFF-goers can tweet exclusive photos and news about hype-worthy filmmakers and movies before the official news sources can jump on it. Twitter has proved to be the best breaking-news source and social media app of 2010, so start thinking up your best 140 characters and get tweeting!

3. Woody Allen made a film ... in Britain -- Avoid

Allen's done well on home soil, but senility affects his vision when he moves location to the U.K. Aside from penning corny scripts, such as this year's TIFF entry You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger, this man has absolutely no idea how British people speak, which must have left him unaware of the accent crimes of Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor in "cockney" thriller Cassandra's Dream.

4. Rushing for tickets -- Must do

Not everyone can afford TIFF's movie ticket price -- that's understandable. And even if you can, events sell out fast. Luckily the rush lines set up outside each screening have proved quite prosperous for many TIFFers. If you line up early enough before a screening, you can get into the event for a fraction of the price (and sometimes free). And don't bother bringing your iPod or a book with you to the line, because having a boisterous and bonding chat with other rushers and the volunteers manning the lines is part of the rush experience.

5. Any film where Ewan McGregor plays an American -- Avoid
Ewan McGregor is Scottish. He cannot do an American accent. Everybody knows this -- even Ewan McGregor -- yet that doesn't stop him or casting directors from insisting. Classic faux-pas examples include TIFF 2009 entry Men Who Stare at Goats, Down With Love and The Island co-starring Scarlett Johansson's chest. Note: replace McGregor with Gerard Butler, same story.

6. Volunteering for TIFF -- Must do

On top of interacting with national and international media, filmmakers, industry representatives and your friends and neighbours attending the screenings, you get into the films for free! Volunteers who work a certain amount of hours get to rush for press and industry screenings, which are usually very quiet and civilized: no kids kicking your seat, no sticky soda-stained floors and no popcorn crunching in your ear. Also, whilst on the job, you get to sport a nifty-looking headset and clipboard, making you look all the more regal and in-demand. Volunteering is one of the best ways to enjoy every aspect the fest has to offer, especially if you're on a budget and have no problem sporting a smile all the livelong day.

 7. 'Vanity project' star-vehicle films -- Avoid

You know the drill: Famous actor or pop star appears in a movie, probably also executive producing, despite having little to no experience. Cue painful, self-indulgent story designed to make the sell-out look better -- oh the irony. Mariah Carey's Glitter is the ultimate example, but Vanilla Ice's Cool as Ice runs a close second. And let's not forget the brutally misogynistic 8 Mile with Eminem, which premiered at TIFF 2002.

8. Seeing Canadian films -- Must do

Despite TIFF chief Piers Handling infamously saying too many Canadian films were accepted into TIFF 2010, we certainly created quite a few buzz-worthy and high-profile movies this year. Score: A Hockey Musical opened the fest with a star-studded gala of who's who in Canada, and set the tone for 11 days of Canadian cinema. Barney's Version, Beginner's Guide to Endings, Oliver Sherman, Heartbeats, Casino Jack and Whistleblower are just a few of the Canadian productions starring national and international superstars with Canadian visionaries behind the lens. All of which could revamp our film industry and provide huge box office returns in the Canadian market.

9. Any film where J-Lo is looking for a husband -- Avoid

Oh, to turn back the clock when J-Lo was just Jennifer and keeping it real with George Clooney in Out Of Sight. As soon as she discovered the romantic comedy, Jen was done for, as were audiences who expected anything remotely romantic or comedic. Watch her whine about being single (as if) in The Wedding Planner, Maid in Manhattan, Monster-in-Law and The Back-Up Plan if you dare. Sure none of these were TIFF entries, but this is just basic good advice. When in doubt, forsake the J-Lo.

10. Expecting the unexpected -- Must do

Toronto may be a huge city, but locals know that it's not so big that you won't run into a friend on the street every now and then. So when TIFF takes over Hogtown, the chances of running into a celebrity or notorious filmmaker are also quite positive. Of course, Yorkville is the go-to place for celeb sightings, but in the past I've just been going about my business on Yonge Street and ran into Carlos Santana, or chilling out in Parkdale and sat next to Jared Leto, or chowing down at some random falafel joint on Bloor with Thandie Newton in line behind me. Expect the unexpected. Be spontaneous. Take advantage of every opportunity. Because at the end of the day, TIFF is meant to be fun. So live it up and enjoy.

See you next year at TIFF 2011!

You can follow Christine throughout #TIFF10 on Twitter at @ChristineEstima

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