For the first time in 44 years, Toronto International Film Festival moves online amid pandemic
Toronto movie fans are being forced to adjust the way they engage with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) as it moves to an online format this year.
“I’ve been going to in-person screenings since I was 13 years old,” says Matthew Downs, a fourth-year film student at Ryerson.
Downs has been attending the festival since 2012, and says it’s been a part of his life and development as someone who loves and wants to make movies.
Although theatre screenings are extremely limited this year and the number of films has drastically decreased, film lovers have still found a way to make the best out of an unfortunate situation.
TIFF announced both drive-in movie screenings and open air cinemas in accordance with safety regulations and keeping physical distancing practices in mind. However, the majority of films are being streamed using Bell Digital Cinema, the festival’s online film streaming platform.
Downs says although he really likes what TIFF is doing, accessing some of the events poses some issues for him. “I don’t have a car. I can’t get to the drive-in,” he says.
Instead, he’s taken advantage of the festival’s online platform. With roughly 50 titles being screened, Downs has already watched over 40 films.
“I was lucky enough to get an industry pass, which means that I had access to pretty much everything online without having to leave my home. I definitely don’t know if I would’ve done as much this year, or if I would’ve done really anything at all if it wasn’t the case.”
Without an industry pass, you can expect to pay $19 for regular tickets or $26 for premium tickets to film screenings. Downs explains that without the industry pass, ticket prices easily add up which “can be hard to justify,” he said.
Simon Grinchpan, a fourth-year business management student at Ryerson, has also felt the effects of a primarily digital based festival. Since discovering the festival in 2017, he has watched screenings in both 2018 and 2019, and was looking forward to watching more at this year’s festival.
“It just really isn’t the same.” says Grinchpan, who has also streamed film screenings from home.
“There were a lot of good movies this year, I just wish there was a more vast selection,” he says referring to the fact there are fewer films this year. In 2019 the festival screened over 300 films; this year there are 50.
Although TIFF fanatics encountered an extremely different festival experience this year, Grinchpan says he looks forward to continuing making a habit of attending TIFF in the years to come.