Wednesday, August 31, 2016

TIFF 2016 Overview

It's that time again! TIFF 2016 will be here soon! Today was my 1-hour window to select my films, and it was a little more stressful than usual! This year I bought a package of 30 tickets, and I'm sharing them with my friend Nina (3), my cousins Barry & Debby (5 pairs) and my mom (2), leaving me with 15 movies to see myself. I had spent about 4 hours perusing the program to come up with a list of 31 candidate films, roughly ranked in the order I cared to see them. Really I had 3 sets of films: a few I really really want to see, a whole bunch that look great, and another bunch that look pretty good. Combining the preferences of the others for their selections adjusted my rankings a bit, and I was ready to start picking films at 11am this morning.

The ticketing system has changed this year, in some ways for the better, and in other ways definitely not. I have a new TIFF account with Ticketmaster. It's actually my 7th distinct Ticketmaster account, as they seem to tie me into a different account for every event/sport I book tickets for, including the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, the World Junior Championship that will be partly played here in Toronto at the end of the year, and my season tickets for the new rugby team, the Toronto Wolfpack.

What's better with the ticketing experience this year:
  • The list of available screenings is all presented at once, so I can scroll through the hundreds of films sorted by day/time. This made it pretty easy to find each screening I wanted to book tickets for, without reloading the web page each time, though the list was quite long.
  • I was able to print off my own tickets, and transfer groups of tickets to my friends very easily. This saved me a trip downtown to stand in line to pick up all my tickets (which I had to do each previous year), and also simplified getting tickets to others. Last year I remember waiting at a theatre for someone to just barely arrive in time, which was stress I don't need.
What was worse this year:
  • In previous years, as I chose each film I knew right away whether or not it was available. Knowing that affects my later picks. For example, when I confirm one film, that blocks off that time on my calendar, which can prevent me from choosing another film showing only at the same time. This year I had to choose all my films, and then at the end submit them to see which were available. It turned out that they all were, which was great, but if a few had come back as sold out, I would have had to make other selections in a way that would have been constrained differently (i.e. worse) than if I knew each film's availability as I made each choice.
  • After spending 39 minutes of my 60 minute window making my selections, I then clicked on the shopping cart icon to check out. Unfortunately that was a "mistake"; I should have clicked on the "Find Films" button at the bottom of the screen to determine which films were available and put them in my shopping cart. Instead, when I clicked on the cart icon, all my selections were cleared! All the hard work I had spent 39 minutes figuring out was discarded. I kind of freaked out a bit, and then frantically re-entered all my selection (much quicker the second time, as my calendar was already filled in). I submitted my choices with 4 minutes left, and as I mentioned earlier, all 15 films I wanted were available. So the tense story had a happy ending. I have given Ticketmaster my feedback on this workflow...
So after all that, I'm seeing the following 15 films (in the order I'll see them), 9 of them with some combination of my friend/family and 6 on my own:

and a non-film post:

A link to each film's review appears as I see and review them; those in bold are highly recommended!. As was the case last year with Room and The Martian, there were two films very high on my list this year that I ended up not choosing at all, because they will be in theatres soon after the festival. Those 2 are Arrival and Denial, both of which I will be sure to see later this fall. Arrival is based on a short story I recently read (in fact I bought the book containing the short story because the trailer for the film looked so good). The Girl with All the Gifts is the another film in this year's festival that is based on a book I have read.