Coming Attractions / TIFF

Make 2017 the year you finally hit the Toronto International Film Festival

Nicole Kidman at TIFF16

Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage Getty for TIFF


Fall means football, school, and, for Western New York cinephiles, lots and lots of films. The Oscar season truly begins sometime in early September, and a key element is the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). TIFF17 runs from September 7 to 17, and while that’s just a few days away, it’s not too late to plan a visit.


Here are a few reasons why 2017 should be the year you finally make it to TIFF.


TIFF16 was one of the best fests in years.

Moonlight. La La Land. Arrival. Manchester by the Sea. While none of these 2016 hits were Toronto world premieres, all played the festival to great acclaim. Also playing TIFF were bold, unique entries like Jackie, The Handmaiden, Nocturnal Animals, and American Honey. And two of the finest films released in 2017, Kristen Stewart-starrer Personal Shopper and the dark period piece Lady Macbeth, were festival highlights. This stellar group made TIFF16 a huge success.


Fewer films in 2017 makes scheduling a bit easier.

The films mentioned above represent only a handful of the nearly 300 features that played the 2016 festival. With that many entries, it should come as no surprise that there are some duds. That’s one of the reasons the decision to cut the number of features by twenty percent for the 2017 festival is good news. OK, so there are still an absurd number of films, but any reduction means fewer conflicts, and that means scheduling should be easier. (The downside of all this is that TIFF has jettisoned its Vanguard program, which included some of the festival’s most complex and probing fare.)


It’s now easier to customize ticket-buying.

It might come as a surprise that even with the festival a few days away, there are still options for ticket-buyers. And there are a few new ticketing options that allow you to customize purchases in a sensible way. The new “regular flex” option offers six tickets for $150, and six is just right for a two-day or day-and-a-half visit. It’s also worth noting that weekday daytime screenings now start at eighteen dollars for adults and ten dollars for anyone twenty-five and under. Of course, if you are open to seeing something a bit less anticipated—e.g., a film that’s not making its premiere in Toronto—you’ll greatly increase your options.


Leonardo DiCaprio

Photo of George Pimentel/WireImage Getty for TIFF.


You can hit Yorkville while you’re in town.

Toronto’s Yorkville neighborhood is a bustling area of cool boutiques and restaurants. It’s also a great place to spot visiting celebrities. And it’s also another hotel option. Yorkville is a short walk or drive from downtown, so if you are searching for a place to stay, don’t ignore it. (I’ll be staying at the Holiday Inn Yorkville this year, and I’m looking forward to finally experiencing the neighborhood after years of passing it by.)


There are great restaurants footsteps away from the festival hub. has a lengthy list of TO restaurants, but I asked food maven Christa Glennie Seychew for her faves. She is a regular visitor to the city and keeps a close watch on the Toronto dining scene. “Right near the Lightbox is Patria, which I adore,” she says. “And Drake’s restaurant Fring’s is also right there. Alo is super-duper hot. But if you’re squeezing a bunch of movies in, I’d say Burgers Priest and Banh Mi Boys—both on Queen—are your best bets for fast and tasty eats.”


The Blue Jays are home against Detroit and Baltimore.

Odds are good that you won’t have time to catch a baseball game. But if you do, Rogers Centre is just a few blocks from the Lightbox. The crushingly disappointing Blue Jays take on the Tigers from September 8 to 10, and the Orioles from September 11 to 13. Hey, the Jays are awful this year, but Major League Baseball is Major League Baseball.


It could take months—if not years—to see these movies in Buffalo.

One of the most searing, stunning films I saw at the 2016 festival was Una, starring powerhouse actors Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn. As of July 2017, it has not been released in the US. Yes, nearly a year later, this great feature is still not available for interested cinephiles. A shocking number of films don’t get released in the States for months or years, and some never make it here at all. Boo.


These are just a few reasons why TIFF time is such a great time to visit Toronto. The aforementioned, the official website of Tourism Toronto, has plenty more. On the website, an interview with TIFF director of film programs Jesse Wente offers a particularly compelling reason why it is worth the trek: “The festival allows you to be among the first to experience a film before it comes to a theater near you.” In our spoiler-mad culture, that’s something to be embraced.


Check for ticket info, schedules, and trailers.        


Watch and the November issue of Spree for more on TIFF17 from film critic Christopher Schobert.


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