Toronto Theatres & Film Festivals

Toronto After Dark Film Festival

Scaaaary movies time! Tickets are now on sale for the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, which takes place from October 17th to 25th at Scotiabank Theatre. This super-popular festival showcases new horror and cult movies as well as sci-fi, action, and horror-comedy flicks. Award-winning films We Are What We Are and Big Bad Wolves are the Festival's opening and closing galas. There are still some all-access passes available for $143, which gives you priority entry to all 20 screenings and saves you 45% off general tickets. You also get 2,000 Scene points if you have one of those cards. And a head's up if you are planning to attend on Saturday October 19th - that is Zombie Appreciation Night, and tickets are discounted for zombies in costume. Rosie :)

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Ten Years of TIFF

2013 marks a couple of big milestones for my husband and I. Ten years of marriage, and ten years of attending the Toronto International Film Festival. TIFF makes the end-of-summer-blues much easier to handle. When September rolls around, the excitement of the festival takes over. The Scoop is going to be very busy with TIFF over the next couple of weeks so I thought I would share some of my favourite photos from the last decade of festival-ing until I return. (Movies on our 2013 schedule include American Dreams in China, Prisoners by Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, the George Clooney-produced August: Osage County and Enough Said starring the late great James Gandolfini.) It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Our first batch of TIFF films. Primer, Shane Carruth's science fiction drama about the accidental discovery of a means of time travel, absolutely blew us away. It was one of my favourite Q&A's of all time.

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I couldn't care less about celebrities except at film fest, because they bring their cinematic awesomeness via their writing/acting/directing skills to my beloved city. Stars love TIFF because Toronto film fans are typically very chill and don't freak out. Here is Adrian Grenier, whose documentary Shot in the Dark details his journey to track down his estranged father. It was excellent.

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The Last Kiss, a 2006 romantic dramedy based on the 2001 Italian film L'ultimo Bacio, brought some serious talent to Toronto.Tony Goldwyn directed and Paul Haggis wrote the screenplay. One of my favourite festival moments happened when they walked on stage and my husband leaned over and whispered, "I am blinded by the talent!"

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Philip Seymour Hoffman made his directorial debut in the 2010 romantic comedy Jack Goes Boating. He was also the star. He was absolutely delightful introducing his film, and during the Q&A after.

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Sometimes, something happens at film fest where you see a movie like the 2004 British drama The Libertine which starred Johnny Depp as the debauched 17th century poet the Earl of Rochester. You think it is absolutely fantastic, and then when it comes out in theatres later it's a complete dud. That also happened in 2009 with Jennifer's Body, a black comedy horror written by Diablo Cody. I truly thought Megan Fox was amazing in this movie, but she got absolutely no love for it when it came out later.

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We have seen dozens of amazing movies over the years including the Tony Kaye abortion documentary Lake Of Fire, the British drama The Last King of Scotland starring Forest Whitaker, Jason Reitman's satirical comedy Thank You For Smoking and one of the sweetest films I have ever seen, Mon Meilleur Ami. There have been some duds in there too- I love Colin Firth but Trauma, the 2004 psychological thriller he starred in, was awful. (He was completely charming at the Q&A of course, and that almost made up for it.) Good or bad, I love each and every film fest experience we have had. See you at the movies! Rosie :)

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TIFF Bell Lightbox

Last night we saw The East at the TIFF Bell Lightbox at King and John. The Lightbox is the home of Toronto's hugely popular film fest every September, but you can also see movies there year round without buying tickets in advance. It's a great theatre, ticket prices for a regular screening are $12 (new releases $13) and you can see what is currently playing here. The Lightbox is also a cultural space with galleries for exhibitions. Right now it is showcasing New Women, the major new installation by Yang Fudong, as part of TIFF's summer flagship programme Century of Chinese Cinema.

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This is a fun and lively area of the city to check out if you are a visitor. King and John has tons of great restaurants. Luma, located right in the TIFF Lightbox, has a dinner and theatre package and a beautiful view of the city.

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Every Thursday in the TIFF Lounge Luma hosts Zen Thursdays. Cocktails are $7 (regularly $10.) Rosie :)

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TIFF 2012: Frances Ha at the Ryerson Theatre

It's the most wonderful time of the year. The Toronto International Film Fest is in full swing and that means interesting movies from directors I love who gamely subject themselves to earnest questions from an adoring crowd afterwards. What makes TIFF so awesome is that with a little planning, anyone can perch themselves in the front rows to listen to their favourite writers/directors/actors/producers talk about the art they have made. Love it. Last night we saw Frances Ha, directed by Noah Baumbach who has made some great movies including The Squid and the Whale and one of my all-time favourites Kicking and Screaming (NOT the Will Ferrell soccer movie- the 1995 film about college students about to be thrust into the real world trying to figure it all out starring Josh Hamilton and Eric Stoltz. Favourites lines: "I'm nostalgic for conversations I had yesterday" and "Oh, I've been to Prague."

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On stage for the Q&A after the film, from left to right: Noah Baumbach, co-writer Greta Gerwig who also stars as Frances, and actress Mickey Sumner who plays her best friend Sophie. Frances describes their friendship as being "like a lesbian couple that doesn't have sex anymore." This offbeat black-and-white flick follows the floundering Frances as she tries to pull her scattered life together. It's funny, edgy, modern, and also features the unique and adorably weird Adam Driver from the HBO series Girls. Rosie :)

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