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Ten days in the life of a TIFF enthusiast

By Josh Beneteau

Only at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) can fans of Star Trek and Sherlock collide in one loud, sweaty crowd of pure happiness.

After waiting two hours in the shadow of Roy Thomson Hall, I laid eyes on Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock or Khan; your pick).

He exited a dark vehicle as if he were the President and entered the camera frames of hundreds of screaming fans. Sticking my arm straight up, I snapped a few blurry pictures with my point-and-shoot camera as I dodged a backpack that felt like it was full of bricks.

Cumberbatch hung around for 10 minutes before meeting the press on the red carpet. But in that short time, he gave me a story to tell all my friends and brag about on Facebook. That is the magic of TIFF.

For film buffs, a fraternity of which I am a member, TIFF is the most wonderful time of the year.

Sure, there are no jingle bells, but there are some amazing films that have rarely, if ever, been screened for the public. For the first time in my life, I conquered the festival, seeing nine films in eight days.

My festival experience began back in June when I bought my tickets. A simple pack of ten ran me up to almost $180, but I knew it would be worth it. I don’t know how I knew, since the films weren’t announced for a couple more months, but I did. Some call it crazy. I call it intuition.

That forward thinking paid off.

On Aug. 29, three days before the public, I got to pick which movies I was going to see. I quickly grabbed tickets for 12 Years a Slave and Gravity – they were both amazing.

I made the most of my one day off school by rushing to see August: Osage County, with Meryl Streep as good as ever. Enough Said, an awesome rom-com with a twist, and Life of Crime, about a kidnapping gone wrong, bookended my festival.

But with three screenings, Sept. 8 was my busiest day: one at the Bloor Cinema (You Are Here), one at the Princess of Wales (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom) and one at the Scotiabank Theatre (All the Wrong Reasons), none of which is particularly close to my home on Gerrard Street. So “crazy film geek” probably applies here.

Or maybe not. I thought seeing nine movies was pushing it, and I thought my three-movies-in-oneday stunt would end in headaches and confusion. But then I met multiple people in line for movies who pushed crazy to a whole new level.

These were working adults, many older than me, who had somehow managed to fit 31 movies into their ten-day TIFF schedules. Who has time for all that? It was amazing how fast TIFF went by, and, in a way, I’m already excited for next year. I should probably find something to do besides watch movies.

But I hope everyone got to watch one movie or stalk one red carpet (or both). It is, after all, a special time of year.

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