Rightwing Film Geek

… but on the other hand (self-indulgent … do not read)

I suppose if I’m gonna rant against TIFF and/or the Canadian character (I also recently referred to the country on my Twitter feed as The Sensitive Socialist Republic of Canuckistan), I should tell of an event with the Festival organizers last year. I intended to write this up last year to thank some folks, but … well, never did.

I went to my hotel’s business center to write one morning when my first film (BLUE VALENTINE) didn’t start until noon. I packed up around 1130 and was out the door of the hotel when I realized, I didn’t have my tickets for that day’s four films though I could swear I took them to the business center. (To minimize the damage from just this possibility, I have never carried around the whole fest’s tickets, just That Day’s.) I go back to my room — not there. And then to the business center — not there and nobody has turned them in. Drat. And double drat.

By now, I’d had to write off BLUE VALENTINE, which I saw a few months later in commercial release. Fortunately, I have vouchers for three films (I only used 47 of my 50-ticket allotment), so I go to the Festival Box Office to plead my case for salvaging the rest of the day. Here’s the rub — the passes are only good for one ticket to any given screening. I explain to the volunteer when I get to the Box Office that yes, the computer says I already have tickets to all these films I’m requesting to use my three vouchers on, but I’ve lost those and can you PLEASE make an exception. I point out that I have a ticket for a film that’s playing right now, so obviously I’m not lying about having lost them. She thinks she can override the computer but calls over her boss to get the needed approval. I explain the situation again to the boss and she says basically “not a problem.” That’s BREAK THE RULES #1.

So I get a ticket for MEEK’S CUTOFF. And then they call up THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF NICOLAE CEAUSESCU — it’s sold out and it’s Rush Line only. And then they call up UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES — ditto. Drat. And double drat. I say in a resigned and stoic way — “OK. Oh well. Guess it’s Rush Line for me then.” Before I could leave, the boss replies, “No, no. Let me print you tickets anyway.” On her own authority, she gave me tickets to two officially sold-out films because (something like) “it’s people like you, film lovers who commit to this festival, that make it what it is.” It had come out in conversation that I had come up from Washington with a 50-film pass for the 9th year in a row and was spending almost two weeks in Canada. I thanked her repeatedly, and she told me she was planning to see UNCLE BOONMEE herself that night. That’s BREAK THE RULES #2.

I get into MEEK’S CUTOFF and meet pinko socialist bud Josh Rothkopf before the film. I tell him a less-detailed version of the previous (I had lamented my loss earlier on Twitter). And Josh made some gently pointed joke about Canadian rationality and willingness to BREAK THE RULES in the interest of accommodation and making others happy. To which, there is nothing to do but agree. Lord knows I would’ve got nowhere if this had been the Bucharest Film Festival.

So, to whoever were the Festival Box Office workers on the morning of Sept. 16, 2010 — thank you for your typically Canadian hospitality and accommodating niceness, even if meant technically BREAKING THE RULES.

(OK … can I get into your socialist country now?)

UPDATE: … and filmgeekbud Darren Hughes definitively one-ups that anecdote about Canadian solicitousness into the dust.

September 3, 2011 - Posted by | TIFF 2010

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