Just back from Toronto where, in between the bizdev and the partying, I managed to catch five films.
Now most films at TIFF (what folks in-da-know now call the Toronto International Film Fest) are more than your standard Friday Night At The Multiplex variety. Here's the drill:
--A podium is wheeled to centre-screen.
--A member of the TIFF Programming team welcomes you, thanks the sponsors, gives you the "Don't pirate this movie!" warning, and then introduces the film's director.
--The director says a couple words (in the case of Ang Lee, very touching; in the case of The Coen Brothers, shyly mumbled)
--The director then introduces the film's producers and stars. The ensuring result ranges from polite applause (let's say for the international cast of Fugitive Pieces) to insane pandemonium (when The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford's Brad Pitt hit the stage).
--Then they wheel the podium off, and roll out a few more thanks and promos (to volunteers and more sponsors) on screen.
--Finally, the film begins.
Now I have no problem with this. Masters must be served, even at--especially at!--$49 a ticket. And other than the annual Robert Lantos marathon, most of these go for about five minutes.
But after five of 'em, I couldn't help thinking that there must be a better way. And not just for these high-falutin' festivals, either. What I propose could be--should be!--added to all film screenings everywhere for a bit of added drama and added value and added FUN for the people who love movies.
So, as a service to my very glamorous and impeccably-dressed friends Piers Handling and Michèle Maheux, co-directors of the TIFFany of all Film Festivals, I offer the following advice-slash-opening scenario.
But in the great tradition of Hollywood...it's a cliffhanger.
Tune in Wednesday to discover what it's all about.