Hold your breath. TIFF is almost upon us. Yep, the largest and most prestigious film festival in North America is going to descend on our metropolis next Thursday, Sept. 4, and will dominate the news for the following ten days. There will be stars galore, world premieres of hotly anticipated films, lots of parties and acquisitions of major—and minor—movies.
How big is TIFF?
Let me count the ways.
From September 4 through the 13th, 312 films will be unspooled to Toronto’s eager public. Of those, 249 will be features and 63, shorts. Highlighting the importance of the festival is the number of either world, international or North American feature film premieres: 237. 64 countries—from Thailand to Brazil to Iceland—will have films at TIFF. While such renowned names as Mike Leigh, Wong Kar-Wai, Atom Egoyan, the Coen Brothers and the Dardenne brothers will be premiering works at the festival, the crack and adventurous TIFF programming team has uncovered 61 first features by neophyte directors to accompany them.
Did I say the programmers at TIFF are “adventurous”? They’re also hard-working. A whopping 4209 films were submitted to the festival, 3445 from abroad and 764 from across Canada. Speaking of Canada, 29 features (including co-productions) will be shown at TIFF and 38 shorts. And—just in case you’re really into numbers—20, 693 minutes of film will be shown over the ten days of TIFF.
The festival expects 340,000+ admissions this year, counting the public and the industry attendees. While some are here to seriously screen films and others have traveled to TIFF for business reasons, a large number of Torontonians attend the festival to see the stars.
And see them they will. Over 500 filmmakers, actors and film professionals have been announced as attendees of TIFF 2008. In a bizarrely democratic press release, the festival listed all the guests with no comment as to their relative importance. There’s something quintessentially Torontonian about a list that arranges Canadian maverick director Bruce McDonald, Brazilian filmmaker Bruno Barreto, Aussie actor Bryan Brown and American actress Bryce Dallas Howard in a row alphabetically, according to first name.
Big names coming to Toronto include performers Alan Alda, Alicia Keys, Anne Hathaway, Antonio Banderas, Ben Kingsley, Benicio del Toro, Caroline Dhavernas, Charlize Theron, Christopher Walken, Claire Danes, Clark Johnson, Colin Farrell, Colin Firth and Cynthia Nixon. And that only gets us through the “C’s!”
Among the eagerly anticipated Galas are: the new Coen Brothers comedy Burn After Reading, the Irish-Canadian thriller Fifty Dead Men Walking, Jonathan Demme’s comedy-drama Rachel Getting Married, the Hollywood melodrama Secret Life of Bees and our own war epic, Paul Gross’ epic Passchendaele.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We’ll cover Galas later this week. In any case, you get the point: Toronto has a number of reasons to be anticipating TIFF 2008.