I love movies. As a kid, the place to be on Sunday afternoons was in front of the TV watching all sorts of old flicks, from Jerry Lewis & Dean Martin to Abbott & Costelo to Clint Eastwood and John Wayne. As a teen, the old Imperial Six, at Yonge and Dundas, and the Uptown, at Yonge, near Bloor, were where my friends and I would prefer to spend our time. One great memory of the Uptown was when I saw Rocky. At the end, the entire audience, including myself, jumped up and cheered the underdog. I still get goosebumps thinking of that moment. I’m sure I’m not the only one with fond memories of the movies, they’re almost like music, able to transport you back in time to a specific moment or place. Sometimes these memories wouldn’t even surface without these catalysts.
Films are a great escape. No matter what’s going on around us or even just in our head, a film can push all that aside, even if temporarily, to make room for its story. A good film, an entertaining film, will suck you in and hold you without effort. Some of the best ones will even occupy your mind long after they’re over, a wonderful elixir for some of the woes of everyday life.
Before TIFF was TIFF it was the Toronto Festival of Festivals, bringing international cinema to Hogtown for Torontonians to relish over. Its success led to what today is the world renown Toronto International Film Festival. This year being the 47th edition, it’s grown from screenings at the old Windsor Arms, back in 1976, to what it is today; Its own home, the TIFF Bell Lightbox, hundreds of thousands of visitors, and films, both long and short, this year numbering about 240. Of course, it also comes with the usual pomp and pageantry of the “beautiful people” so many of us love to admire, but mostly, if you can afford it, it’s a great chance to see what’s out there. For those interested or already involved in the arts, it’s also a chance to hear talks and participate in panel discussions, amongst many other activities on offer. Denominated a cultural charity, TIFF supports and presents programs throughout the year related to all that is film and including all who are, or want to be, related to the industry, no matter the age. I don’t know exactly how generous they are with their funds, but any support for the arts is good, considering governments ignore, or better yet, pretend to care about, anything that is in any way related to the arts. Back in 1976, Toronto was just another city, for the most part. When the Toronto Festival of Festivals came about, it was a hope of many that it would shed a light on a very little known but dynamic city. It worked. There is no doubt that TIFF helped put Toronto on the international map, and the city is all the better for it. Promoting culture is always the most positive of actions. So, if you can still find tickets, venture out and watch a flick, good or bad, it will still be a learning experience as well as a good night out.