Friday, September 01, 2017
TIFF 2017 - Advanced Screenings
Other than the monetary savings of not buying tickets, the main advantage of this is time savings. All the movies play at one venue (Scotiabank Theatre), the movies play without the 10+ minutes of the same ads shown at each public screening, and other than for the most popular movies, there will be no lineup to attend a press screening. Unlike public screenings that often become delayed in start time due to waiting for special guests to arrive, or finish late due to an unusually long Q&A session, unless there is a technical issue, the press screenings always start and end precisely according to schedule. Because of all this, we are able to pack movies more tightly into a schedule, being able to leave less than 15 minutes between movies as opposed to the 90+ minutes that we used to leave between each of our public screenings, to account for traveling between theatres and lining up early so that we were not stuck sitting in the front row. It was a new experience trying to schedule press screenings instead of public screenings. Where we usually would watch 2-3 movies a day, this year we will attempt to watch 4 (and once even 5) in one day! Including 10 advanced screenings that we watched for 1.5 weeks prior to the start of the festival, our goal is to watch between 43-46 movies in 3 weeks. Whether we actually succeed, or collapse in exhaustion and are forced to scale back, still remains to be seen. The nice thing is that since we did not pay to watch any specific movie, we could cancel or switch to another movie at the last minute, or even walk out of movies that we do not enjoy, without feeling pressured to stay to make the cost of the ticket worthwhile.
The disadvantage of a press screening is the lack of any actors or directors appearing after the movie to hold a Q&A session. Since this is part of the fun of watching movies at TIFF, we decided that we would buy tickets for one movie that featured big-named stars so that we could still have that celebrity experience. Besides, it is fun to watch the new "Thank the Volunteers" ad once since it is usually very creative. It just gets old when you have to watch it again and again through 30+ movies like we did in previous years. I also want to see if festival sponsor RBC finally updates the ad that it has played 3 years in a row and caused derisive jeers whenever it aired last year.
For the actual dates of the festival, we picked and scheduled the movies that we wanted to watch, using our usual strategy of reading the synopsis, making a long list of potentials, then narrowing the list down depending on what fit in a schedule. But for the advanced screenings, the movies are chosen by the festival organizers and you can decide to view them or not. Rich watched 10 and I watched 8 advanced screenings and we have enjoyed most of them. And the nice thing is that we have been watching movies that we would not have picked ourselves based on the description, theme or subject matter. Yet we ended up being very glad that we experienced films outside of our usual comfort zone.