TIFF like you’ve never seen it before 

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By: Elizabeth Sargeant

Attending the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is a staple back-to-school event for many Ryerson University students. With campus being in the heart of the city, students have the privilege of picking from a variety of theatres, films and red carpet events close by when TIFF rolls into town.

After TIFF 2020 lacked the opportunity for students to spot celebrities on campus, this year’s festival, running from Sept. 9 to 18, offers a much more COVID-friendly way to still catch some flicks and explore the festival safely. 

For those who are new to campus, or are just curious about how the festival is going to work out this year, The Eyeopener has created the ultimate guide for navigating TIFF 2021. 

Getting access and attending

From the protocols and schedules released to date, this year’s festival seems to be unlike any other. According to members of the TIFF team, all tickets this year will be virtual and must be purchased ahead of time to reduce the typical long lines and overcrowding seen at previous screenings. 

In addition to keeping tickets virtual to minimize risk, all attendees are required to come wearing a mask and visitors won’t be allowed access to any venue without one. Masks are expected to stay on throughout every showing and film buffs who love to snack while they watch will be unable to grab popcorn as all concession stands will be closed at every venue. 

While barriers are typically set up around the red carpet, there has been no public comment about protocols for visitors that gather around them to get a closer look at the action or a selfie with a star. It‘s been confirmed that there will be talent, cast and crew  live this year, with rapid testing and other protocols in place.

Best spots to go

TIFF has also expanded the number of cinemas in which featured films will be played in an effort to create a safe experience for all attendees.These include the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Princess of Wales Theatre, Roy Thomson Hall, Scotiabank Theatre and the Cinesphere IMAX Theatre at Ontario Place.

In the past, the Ryerson Theatre has been a staple venue in the roster. However this year, no films or TIFF events are being hosted in the space. However Roy Thomson Hall, TIFF Bell Lightbox, Princess of Wales and Scotiabank Theatre are about a 10- to 15-minute commute from campus, or around a 20- to 25-minute walk.

A new addition to this year’s festival is a drive-in component for those unsure about indoor screenings. Students who have a car can attend Visa Skyline and RBC Lakeside drive-ins or the West Island Open Air Cinema.

This year’s line up is chock-full of celebrities thanks to the exciting festival opener

What to see

This year’s line up is chock-full of celebrities thanks to the exciting festival opener Dear Evan Hansen, premiering at Roy Thomson Hall. 

The flick features the talents of Booksmart’s Kaitlyn Denver, as well as Ben Platt, Julianne Moore, Amy Adams and Amandla Stenberg, according to a tweet from TIFF’s official Twitter account. Despite some controversy surrounding Platt, 27, playing a teenage character, this coming-of-age musical is highly anticipated by theatre nerds.

Other celebs expected to make an appearance on the big screens and the red carpet include Olivia Munn, starring in Violet—a drama written and directed by first-time filmmaker Justine Bateman. IndieWire has already labelled it one of Munn’s “best roles in her career.”

Docu-drama lovers will be delighted to see Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield star in Tammy Faye, a story of 80s televangelists Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker.

Travelling even further back in time, Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho stars Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomasin McKenzie in a 60s psychological horror set to premiere during the festival.

Awards to watch out for 

Movie fans who are anticipating award season won’t have to wait much longer, as TIFF 2021 has expanded the amount of exciting awards being handed out this year. According to executive director and co-head of TIFF, Joana Vicente, Benedict Cumberbatch is set to win the 2021 TIFF Tribute Actor Award.

“His remarkable range and onscreen presence is sure to captivate audiences at this year’s festival with his upcoming films,” she stated. 

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