film festival tourism


The Toronto International Film Festival

The Toronto Festival Red Carpet Scene

Long celebrated as the premiere event of its kind in North America, Toronto’s International Film Festival features provocative programming, flawless organization, and savvy, appreciative audiences. These virtues make it the festival of choice for moviemakers who want to showcase new productions in an advantageous light.

Festival Website:

Timing: Nine days just after the Labor Day weekend.


Many movies being groomed for Academy Award consideration are premiered here along with the cream of new international cinema.

Special Guests

Most filmmakers attend along with a high quota of celebrities looking to create Oscar buzz.


Press, industry and locals. Many Torontonians take their annual vacations from work to attend the fest, and they give the films a notably enthusiastic and courteous reception (no boo-ing). Q and A sessions feature intelligent but friendly questions. Lines are long but the movie discussions that take place during the wait compensate for what would otherwise be a tedious test of cinephile dedication.


Now that Toronto has its long-promised new multi-screened festival venue, most movies are shown there.

Screening Schedule

Movies begin at 9am and end after midnight; as many as fourteen films may be shown concurrently.


Given its focus on industry and press attendees and its large local audience base, the festival is not oriented towards tourism. Out-of-town fans face a ticket-buying process that is structured as an expensive obstacle course. Many of the most eagerly anticipated titles sell out instantly, so don’t set your heart on seeing any particular film. On the other hand, you can hardly go wrong here whatever you choose.

Program Notes

Though heavy and expensive, the Program Book is filled with authoritative information and analyses of the films, setting a high standard excelled only by Pordenone (a very different kind of festival). All film descriptions are signed and include filmmaker résumés and award history.


The most culturally diverse city in North America, Toronto is also one of the most attractive. Easy to navigate, it boasts an unspoiled lakefront setting, friendly inhabitants, and a host of trendy restaurants. The city’s current building boom is focused on architecturally significant cultural institutions, including Frank Gehry’s redesign of the Art Gallery of Ontario and Daniel Liebeskind’s makeover of the Royal Ontario Museum.


I have stayed in two different two-star hotels for this festival; both were convenient to the theaters and quite comfortable.

  • The Comfort Hotel. 15 Charles St. E., Toronto, ON M4Y 1S1, Canada. (416) 924-1222.

Getting Around

If you’re a walker and choose your hotel judiciously, you can hike around to most of the theaters. Or take a taxi; they’re cheap and plentiful. The subway is also a possibility.



The 2004 Festival Program Book

Best Film I Saw: Kings and Queen. Arnaud Desplechin offers up yet another of his engrossingly Byzantine studies of human relationships among the Parisian bourgeoisie. As one of the crack ensemble cast made up from Desplechin’s usual stock company of actors, Matthew Amalric’s alert, inquisitive presence steals the show.


The 2005 Festival Program Book

Best Films I Saw

  • Thank You for Smoking. Jason Reitman’s acerbic feature debut revealed a fully blown comic talent.

  • Something Like Happiness. A haunting meditation on home and nation by up-and-coming Czech auteur Bohdan Sláma.

  • The House of Sand. Andrucha Waddington’s ravishing tone poem of a film shot in the remote sand dunes of Maranhao in northeastern Brazil.

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