August 23, 2011

THE BIJOU @ TIFF: Schedule Day

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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For anyone attending the Toronto International Film Festival that begins in just over 2 weeks, today was a crucial day:  the release of the Festival schedule.  (TIFF also announced some not-shabby final additions to its roster of titles, including Gus Van Sant’s Restless and Jonathan Demme’s third and latest Neil Young documentary.)  

Now that the schedule is out, we attendees can actually come up with our strategies for getting to the movies we most want to see (providing, of course, we can get tickets–see below).  This requires some major decisions, the film buff’s equivalent to a multiplex full of Sophie’s Choices–and never more so than on the festival’s opening weekend, when the premieres are hot and heavy.  On Friday night, see the Brad Pitt/Philip Seymour Hoffman film of the bestselling Moneyball?  Or The Artist, the silent, black and white prize-winner at Cannes that’s already being called an Oscar front-runner?  Or Friends With Kids, the comedy with Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Megan Fox?  Not to mention the seventeen other movies screening in that slot.  And sure, every picture is shown 2 or 3 times over the course of the festival–but there are 20 movies in most of those slots, too.  Every movie you see makes for a dozen or more that you miss.  (TIFF seems to have lightened up on the early morning screenings this time around, which is too bad, because the hardy among us used to be able to score some Rush Line tickets at those shows, taking seats that the exhausted or hungover couldn’t fill.)
All selections have to be submitted by noon on Sunday.  The following day, TIFF does a random drawing to determine which numbered box of submissions to use as Number One, with all orders filled in order from that point on.  The next day, we’ll find out just how good little boys and girls we’ve been this year, and then comes the true test of film festival fortitude:  at 7AM on Saturday September 3 (that’s 4AM for attendees on the west coast… or their assistants), the boxoffice opens for sale of individual tickets, meaning the last chance to arrive in Toronto knowing that you’re actually going to see the movies you’ve come there for.  Phone lines will jam and disconnect; the Festival website will mercilessly crash.  Twitter will tremble with the furious messages of the frustrated and shut-out.  And after just a few hours, virtually every show of the hundreds of films at the festival will be officially sold out.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."