TIFF 2014: A comprehensive student guide

“Back to school.” It’s a sentence fragment that sends shivers down the spines of Ryerson students everywhere. But fear not. If you squint past the rows of violently swinging classroom doors and bustling caffeine-pumped youths, there is a light at the end of the hallway (and a faint smell of popcorn). It’s the Toronto International Film Festival, folks. The second most important film festival in the world after Cannes is right here in Toronto for its 38th year. Running from September 4 to 14, over 300 films from more than 60 countries will show at various theatre locations from Roy Thompson to our very own Ryerson Theatre. It’s a lot to take in, so here’s a little guide to help you navigate 10 rad days of film.

So many to choose from, so few funds

On that glorious student budget, you might feel hard-pressed to pick the perfect film to get your darn money’s worth. TIFF has dubbed a few select “Gala Presentations”—highly anticipated films with the biggest stars, leading directors, and hype galore. Some of the big ones to keep an eye out for are The Judge, Boychoir, Ruth & Alex, Black & White, and This is Where I Leave You. Also on the menu is a medley of art house films, documentaries, short films, and international films, which are certainly worth checking out as they’re much harder to come by in regular theatres. View the full, categorized schedule here.

There will be famous people

If you’re into stargazing, swooning, and screaming at glass-shattering pitches–get ready. A-List actors are invading the city, taking over the ritzy clubs and hotels that saturate the King West area around the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Here’s a list of some of the stars you might catch a glimpse of if you stalk hard enough. (Pro tip: Act cool. You’re more likely to get a picture if you avoid hysterical sobbing.)

  • Morgan Freeman, Ruth & Alex
  • Robert Downey Jr., The Judge
  • Octavia Spencer, Black & White
  • Alan Rickman, A Little Chaos
  • Tina Fey, This is Where I Leave You
  • Jon Stewart, Rosewater
  • Reese Witherspoon, Wild and The Good Lie

And of course…

Bill Murray Day. 
Yes. That’s right. Not only is the acting legend making an in-the-flesh appearance in Toronto, TIFF has sanctioned a full day in honour of the ghostbusting guy himself. On September 5, three of his greatest films—Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters, and Stripes—will be shown for free during the day at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, leading up to the evening premiere of his newest flick St. Vincent. Pro tip: attend at least one of these daytime films dressed in full Murray character getup and you could score free tickets to the evening screening. Don’t forget the smug smile.

First Ever TIFF Street Bash

If you have time to kill pre-movie or before class, check out the TIFF Festival Street. New this year, from September 4-7, King St. West from University Ave. to Peter St. will transform into a pedestrian paradise with art installations, live music, food trucks and tons of quirky stuff—artistic treasure hunt, street piano, light tunnel, massive chess board, and tiny plays put on inside a shed (it’s not sketchy, I swear).

Don’t just sit there…

Now that you’re all up to date, get your hands on some paper. We all know TIFF tickets sell quicker than poutine to drunk university kids. To avoid the tragedy of having the film you’re dying to see sell out before your hungry eyes, act now. Purchase tickets online at www.tiff.net, by phone at 416-599-TIFF or 1-888-599-8433, or in person at the Metro Centre box office at 225 King St. West. Prices begin at $18 for ages 25 and under, and leftover tickets are available for $20 on the day of screenings if you’re willing to try your luck and wait in line for empty seats.


[P]hoto by Emily Rivas