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How to TIFF
23/07/2004

Some September after I moved to Toronto, I heard a friend talking about choosing his movies for the Toronto International Film Festival. The conversation went something like this:

He: "I'm picking my movies for the film festival, and tomorrow I'm lining up early to get my choices in."

Me: "That's sounds like fun how do I do it?"

He: "Sorry, it's too late. I ordered my tickets in July."

Me: "Oh, thanks a lot."

Well, needless to say, I missed out that year. You actually can get tickets throughout the festival at the box office, but to get your choice of movies (and to get the best deal) you need to order now.

So, in case any of my readers just moved to Toronto and are as clueless as I was, here's how it works:

  1. They are now selling coupon books for the festival. Coupons are what you exchange for tickets when you pick make your movie choices in September. These coupon books are going to sell out, so you ought to order now
  2. Coupon books come in quantities of ten and thirty. One coupon = one movie ticket. You can share with other people but when and if you submit an envelope of movie selections, you can only submit one.
  3. I usually order the programme book too, but these days information about the films is easy to get online.

  4. They are also selling a variety of other types of passes, like the Festival Experience Pass (that makes it easy for first-timers), as well as tickets to Galas or special events. Some of these are sold out already.
  5. The film list will be online August 24.
  6. Once you buy your coupons, not much happens until August 31. That's the day you can pick up your coupons, your order form, your programme book (if you ordered one), and the schedule.
  7. The next step is to go through the programme book (or other source of film information) and decide what movies you're interested in. Checking the schedule, try to make a collection of picks that will work. You can make second choices in case your picks are sold out.
  8. If you get your selections in by Friday, September 3 at 10:30 and you are in one of the first 40 boxes then you will be part of the lottery, and have a good chance of getting the movies you want (unless you picked all Hollywood premieres). They randomly pick one of the boxes (say, 15) and then fill all the orders sequentially (15-40,1-14). This is a change from the old days, when there was no lottery and we had to line up at dawn to try to get our picks in first. I preferred that. The line-up was a great social event, and I liked knowing that I was sure to get my movies if I lined up early enough.
  9. A few days later you can pick up your tickets. That's when you'll find out which movies you were able to get into, and which you weren't. At this point, if you have coupons left over you can line up at the College Park Box Office and spend them on tickets to other movies. As a coupon holder, you still have a day or two before other people are allowed to try buy anything.
  10. Once the festival is on, any remaining tickets are fair game for people with coupons or cash.

Okay, maybe that makes it sound more complicated than it needs to be. It's actually pretty simple and a lot of fun. Just order your coupon books now and enjoy in September.

And if that doesn't work out, I know lots of people who just line up and pay cash for whatever isn't sold out come September. That's fun, too.


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