July 3, 2007

About 1st Thursday

The Toronto International Film Festival has traditionally begun on the first Thursday in September. It's my favorite day of the year, and this site is one more way for me to indulge my obsession with it. Think of it as a First-Timer's Guide to TIFF.

My first experience of downtown Toronto went badly. I got off the subway at Yonge and Bloor, fell into step with the mass of commuters (it was rush hour), and emerged, blinking and disoriented, onto street level with only the TIFF map to guide me. I'd allowed myself two hours to find the festival office, claim my tickets, and make my way to the Paramount for my first screening (Hirokazu Kore-eda's Nobody Knows, if you're curious). After too many wrong turns, several subway rides, and a lot of running, I finally made it to the theater -- sweaty, frustrated, and tired -- in time to catch the last twenty minutes of the film.

This site evolved out of . . . well, to be frank, it evolved out of my obsessive-compulsion. For each of the last two years, beginning sometime in mid-July, I've subjected a small group of friends and fellow festival-goers to a barrage of TIFF-related email. Our main goal is to help first-timers avoid frustrating mistakes, save a bit of money, and make the most efficient use of their time (filling out a TIFF film schedule is one of the great joys in my life, but, dammit, you just can't see everything). We also share information about films, exchange hotel and restaurant recommendations, and plan get-togethers. This site will serve more or less the same purpose. I'm hoping other folks from our little group will chip in with advice, too.

Note: All photos featured in the header of 1st Thursday are the work of Toronto-based photoblogger Sam Javanrouh.

Darren Hughes is a web developer and writer in Knoxville, Tennessee. He blogs about film, art, politics, and other stuff at Long Pauses. 2010 will mark his seventh trip to TIFF.

17 comments:

msic said...

Darren,

Beautiful idea, and I'll be dropping by frequently.

Just an addition: there's one other film that's been "officially" announced: 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, AND 2 DAYS. (It's in the snail-mail letter for re-purchasing the out of town packet. My guess is it's in CWC, but you never can tell.)


Darren said...

I wonder why I didn't get that letter? I feel so left out. I assume there will be some more announcements this week after the new site goes live.


andyhorbal said...

Dear Darren,

Do you know where to get delicious, reasonably-priced dim sum in Toronto?

Sincerely,

Andy Horbal (who will be making his second trip to TIFF this year!)


girish said...

That letter also contains the price of the out-of-town package, which is the same as last year ($150).


Darren said...

Andy, I've never had dim sum in Toronto. But you might notice that I've already created a "food" label for this site -- restaurant recommendations are definitely in the plans. I might also create a catch-all post where anyone can post suggestions.


Anonymous said...

Darren:

I, for one, will be benefitting from the fruits of your TIFF obsessiveness. Thanks in advance for all of the effort you'll be putting into this blog - it looks great!

- Andrew


andyhorbal said...

Awesome. I hope people also suggest good places to go for poutine!


Doug said...

Andy, if you do come across any dim sum recommendations, let me know. Living in San Gabrel Valley, I will be suffering from deprivation while I'm in Toronto!


Like a Radio said...

Hey! Didn't I take that picture of you guys at the Subway station? as we were heading back to the dreaded Mississauga? So sad to have missed out last year, but this year is looking more and more like a definite! Now with 1st Thursday, how can I resist?!

Candace


Darren said...

Hey, Candace. Yes, that is absolutely your photo. I found it by accident the other day while I was digging around on my hard drive. I also have a cool shot of you walking toward the Cumberland via that little alleyway that leads to Bloor. I'm glad to hear you'll be making the trip again this year.


J Robert said...

That's funny. I was looking at the photo of us in the subway, and I started wondering who took it. My first thought was Rob Davis, but then I thought to myself, "I bet it was Candace." Then I look in the comments and see that confirmed.

Great idea, Darren. And the site looks great, of course. This will be a fantastic way to get into TIFF this summer.


JulesUK1973 said...

Thanks for the site, as a first timer from England to TIFF 2007. Will be stopping by often :)


James said...

Darren, great site. As someone who lives here and who will be attending his, ulp, 13th TIFF, it's nice to see a visitor's perspective. I'll only be getting to ten films this year (sadly, they've discontinued the 30-coupon book that I used to split with my wife), but I'm sure I'll be checking your site. Check out mine as well: http://www.torontoscreenshots.com. I've been reviewing my TIFF and HotDocs films for several years now.


Bob Turnbull said...

Darren,

Looking forward to following along. This will be my first TIFF (even though I live in Toronto), so I'm kinda excited...

So far, Roy Andersson's "You, The Living" is top of my list. I've heard nothing about it, but simply being a film from the guy who did the wonderful "Songs From The Second Floor" is enough for me. Pen-ek Ratanaruang's "Ploy" would be in second place.


Larry said...

Darren- I sooo understand your comment about your first trip where you "emerged, blinking and disoriented, onto street level."

It was very intimidating planning my first year all the way from Texas. I came armed with only the TIFF map, not even knowing there was a subway system! I stayed in a small hostel off Spadina and bought a used bicycle for a hundred bucks, which I used to get around the the whole week.

Last year I figured out the subway, but -- oddly enough -- I think I had more fun with the bicycle the first year.

I love TIFF. These last 56 days can't go by fast enough.


Darren said...

Bob, you're the third or fourth person now to praise Songs from the Second Floor, which is actually sitting on my coffee table right now. I'm looking forward to watching it Saturday morning.

Larry, the first time I went to TIFF, I stayed at a friend's condo out in Mississauga, so I became well acquainted with the Kipling station. Now I stay right in the heart of the downtown festival area and walk as much as possible.


Bumpyminion said...

I love your site - it has been in my bookmarks list since I found it last year. I'm going to start a separate blog for TIFF this year at inatiff.com. Can I put a link to your site in my blogroll?