There’s plenty to do in Toronto any time of the year. The largest city in Canada, and fourth largest in North America, and the capital of Ontario, it’s got Ripley’s Aquarium, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Toronto Zoo, concerts and baseball at the Rogers Centre, concerts and hockey and basketball at the Air Canada Centre, the Canadian Opera Company, the National Ballet of Canada, the Hockey Hall of Fame, a superb transportation system, ethnic neighborhoods (with amazing food) ranging from Greektown to Little Poland, from Koreatown to Little Italy, from Little India to five different Chinatowns, and there are 35,000 hotel rooms.
But if you go in September, it’s all about movies. The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), running this year from Sept. 5-15, is the stuff of dreams for moviegoers, and it’s become a destination for cinemaniacs who are looking for premiers of blockbusters and art house films, along with revivals of old classics, as well as a place to rub shoulders with actors and directors who are there to promote new projects and maybe catch some films in their spare time.
A few factoids: This year’s TIFF boasts 288 feature films and 78 shorts, which are representing 70 countries and will be shown on 28 screens. The longest film is “Norte: The End of History” (270 minutes); the shortest is “CRIME: Joe Loya – The Beirut Bandit” (1 minute, 40 seconds).
Among the directors scheduled to attend are Ron Howard, Stephen Frears, Jason Reitman, Agnieszka Holland, Jim Jarmusch, Spike Jonze, Lawrence Kasdan, Errol Morris, Fred Schepisi, Frederick Wiseman, Bertrand Tavernier, Steve McQueen, Godfrey Reggio, Ralph Fiennes and Eli Roth.
Actors you might be sitting next to in a restaurant or riding an elevator with include Nicolas Cage, Jennifer Anniston, Kate Winslet, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Giamatti, Annette Bening, Reese Witherspoon, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Sandra Bullock, Daniel Radcliffe, Susan Sarandon, Juliet Binoche, Benedict Cumberbatch, Nicole Kidman, Mila Kunis, Meryl Streep, Owen Wilson, Tim Robbins, Josh Brolin, Jennifer Garner, Matthew McConaughey, Liam Neeson, Hugh Jackman ... that list goes on and on.
One of the coolest things about TIFF is waiting in line with other movie lovers and discussing what you’ve seen and what you’re planning to see. Screenings start at around 9 a.m., and the last show of every day – under an umbrella known as “Midnight Madness” – begins at 11:59 p.m.
As a journalist, I do a lot of interviews each year at TIFF, and I do my best to see a lot of movies. Having perused the 2013 schedule, I picked 53 features that I want to catch over my six-days there. I’ll likely only get to about 15, but I’ve whittled it all down to a list of 25 that I consider must-see. They’re in alphabetical order.
“All Is By My Side” (drama about the young Jimi Hendrix)
Page 2 of 3 - “The Art of the Steal” (heist comedy with Kurt Russell, Matt Dillon, Terence Stamp)
“August: Osage County” (dysfunctional family drama with Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch)
“Beyond the Edge” (3-D drama about Edmund Hillary’s (Chad Moffitt) conquest of Mount Everest)
“Burning Bush” (Agnieszka Holland’s drama about a student who set himself on fire to protest Russia’s occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1969)
“Devil’s Knot” (Atom Egoyan’s dramatic take on the infamous West Memphis Three trial, with Reese Witherspoon)
“Dom Hemingway” (Jude Law as a safecracker who finally gets out of prison and goes after what he’s owed)
“Don Jon” (Joseph Gordon-Levitt directs himself in a comedy about watching porn. With Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore)
“The Fifth Estate” (Benedict Cumberbatch as notorious WikiLeaker Julian Assange)
“The Green Inferno” (Eli Roth’s new cannibal movie)
“Hiroshima mon amour” (Alan Resnais’ classic 1959 anti-war film)
“Horns” (Horror-fantasy with Daniel Radcliffe as a guy who sprouts horns from his head after his girlfriend dies)
“The Invisible Woman” (Ralph Fiennes directs and stars as Charles Dickens, who takes on a longtime secret lover)
“Jodorowsky’s Dune” (documentary of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s failed attempt to film the Frank Herbert science-fiction classic)
“Joe” (Nicolas Cage in a drama about an ex-con who, against his will, becomes a role model for a 15-year-old boy)
“Kill Your Darlings” (murder brings together Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), William Burroughs (Ben Foster), and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) in the 1940s)
“Labor Day” (Jason Reitman writes and directs a story of a woman (Kate Winslet) and her son offering a ride to a stranger (Josh Brolin) who’s an escaped convict)
“Only Lovers Left Alive” (a vampire movie from Jim Jarmusch)
“Parkland” (Zac Efron as Jim Carrico, the first doctor to examine JFK after he was shot in Dallas)
“Prisoners” (Hugh Jackman hunts down the man he believes has kidnapped his daughter. With Jake Gyllenhaal as a cop)
“Quai d’Orsay” (Bertrand Tavernier’s darkly comic film about France’s initial reaction to the war in Iraq. Based on the French comic book)
“Rush” (Ron Howard tells the true story of Formula 1 racing rivals in the 1970s. With Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl behind the wheels)
“Tim’s Vermeer” (documentary about inventor Tim Jenison exploring Vermeer’s painting techniques. Directed by magician Teller)
“12 Years a Slave” (Steve McQueen’s newest follows a black man in New York (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who is sold into slavery long before the Civil War. With Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Paul Giamatti)
“Visitors” (the newest documentary from Godfrey Reggio, who gave us the astounding “Koyaanisqatsi”)
Page 3 of 3 - Single tickets as well as blocks can be purchased. For more information, call 1-888-599-8433 or visit http://tiff.net/thefestival.