Well.. now that the dust has settled on the Toronto International Film Festival 2017, here’s a quick insight into our experience of the wonderfully chaotic world of TIFF from a festival first-timer.
Despite both being industry veterans, this was the first time that either Jeff or I had attended a film festival and so we weren’t sure what to expect. Would we be waltzing up the red carpet, or run over in the public’s rush to search out celebrities?
Well, I’m happy to report that the reality was both! It was a real pleasure to walk down the red carpet with the star of SuperSize Me 2, Morgan Spurlock at the premiere of our new movie – but equally I was amused to be asked “are you somebody?” when standing watching a stationary car for a glimpse of Matt Damon and George Clooney – who were arriving for the opening of Suburbicon.
My answer of “I’m not sure” seemed to confuse the eager stargazer I think, but the scrum towards the Hollywood A-listers reminded me how important movies and movie stars are to the rest of us, especially in a world going through some slightly choppy times.
Walking down Festival Avenue, a street that had been cordoned off for promotional events, gave me a chance to take in the genuine excitement that still exists around cinema and arts festivals of all sorts. There were street musicians, TV crews, people from all over the world who’d make pilgrimages to catch a glimpse of their favourite stars and interested locals, all wandering around in a sea of good-natured chatter.
At TIFF 2017 there were a staggering 339 new movies, shown in just 11 days. Some critics felt that the festival was almost too large, but without any previous experience to match it against, it just felt buzzy and exciting to us. This year featured many biopics, including the Lady Gaga story “Five Foot Two” and “Borg vs McEnroe”, which looks at the rivalry between the tennis stars in the 1980’s.
As with all film festivals, there’s a competitive nature to them, with movies attempting to gain popularity, notoriety and ultimately looking to secure distribution deals. This year’s festival was no different and the winner of the People’s Choice Award went to “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri”. A harrowing, yet compelling movie by Academy award-winner Martin McDonagh, starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell. Other movies to gain recognition were “Bodied” – A satirical exploration of Battle Rapping and “I, Tonya” – The Tonya Harding Story.
For our own small part, the team on SuperSize Me 2 were delighted to have the movie named in the top three documentaries of the festival and, we all hope it bodes well for the upcoming awards season – but for our part, it was just a blast to be involved in the slightly crazy world that was TIFF 2017.