How to Festival
Queer Flicks at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)
Brokeback Mountain, Breakfast on Pluto, C.R.A.Z.Y., Imagine Me and You, Transamerica, Capote, 11 Men Out—a virtual queer film cornucopia, yet most all of these films saw their North American premieres at last year's ®Toronto International Film Festival, one of the queer-friendliest mainstream film festivals in the world. The secret is out.
Here is a quick and easy navigation guide to Toronto and what's queer and here at this year's Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) running September 7-16, 2006.
There is always something for the queer-minded at the ®Toronto International Film Festival, and it really is quite easy to navigate the Festival from the films and panels to the galas and parties. Look out for queer film listings on the Queer Lounge website and in the official Queer Lounge Film Guide in special editions of Xtra throughout the city for up-to the-minute queer-interest happenings at TIFF.
What we're all there for
Queer films and/ or films made by queer directors are in abundance at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Official TIFF film schedule goes live Tuesday, August 22, 2006 on www.e.bell.ca/filmfest/2006/home/ and on Tuesday August 29, 2006 the entire Official Film Schedule is on-line.
For all the dish on queer films go to the Queer Lounge Website or pick up an Xtra, the local queer newspaper for all the reviews.
There are many simple options for attending Festival—Believe it! Passes or coupons allow you to buy multiple tickets in advance, starting July 10. If these are sold-out you may purchase advance tickets online, by phone at 416-968-FILM or by visiting the Year Round Box Office or Festival Box Office located in the Manulife Center, 55 Bloor Street West, starting September 6, 2006 at 7AM.
If you don't have time to buy in advance you can also do Day of. Same-day tickets may be purchased at the Year Round Box Office, Festival Box Office or Theatre Box Offices, subject to availability (there are often tickets released day of at these locations). Don't despair if the film you want is sold out in advance. There are always those fun rush lines if you have tried all your options and it is still sold-out. Get in line and check out the action at the theatre. If it is a queer film there will surely be some eye-candy.
The Where and How
The TTC, Toronto's Transit system is the best way to get around. You can buy a week-long pass or 10 tokens. Don't pay as you go as it is $2.75 one-way and far cheaper to get either a pass or 10 tokens. I would also avoid renting a car as parking is expensive and difficult in the downtown area. There are plenty of taxis you can call as well, Beck or Royal is what I would suggest.
The screenings at TIFF are divided into Industry/Press and Public screenings.
Most of the screenings for entertainment Industry happen in downtown Toronto on Bloor Street and in the chi-chi Yorkville district. Within walking distance, you can find the Cumberland Theatre, Varsity Theatre in the Manulife Centre, Royal Ontario Museum, Isabel Bader Theatre and the TIFF festival box-office. Public screenings often happen at the Paramount, a multiplex which is a TTC ride away, and you get off the Subway at Osgoode. Right near by is Queen Street, a super hip street to hang-out on, lots of shopping, restaurants and bars.
For hotels to stay in check-out Toronto.com for an extensive listing. Festival designated hotels include The Sutton Place Hotel, Intercontinental, Hyatt, and Four Seasons; they are probably booked up because they do house various events, industry and press offices.
Other Queer Things to do during Festival
Queer Lounge will be hosting a number of panels including a film-financing panel focusing on the climate of financing and producing queer film post-Brokeback Mountain. Other panels will soon be announced. Panels are open to the public.
Pick up the free Queer Lounge Film Guide for all our events and a listing of the films. Next pick up an Xtra which will have TIFF film reviews and listings of all the events around the city. Then head down to Church Street for the fabulous gay ghetto!
Make sure not to miss The Gay Flambé on Thursday, September 14, 2006 put on by Inside Out Toronto Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival. An annual event during TIFF, it is one fun and fine party. This year's Gay Flambe will be held at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander Street.
Queer Lounge will hold several events this year, some open to the public, and others invitation only. Industry exclusive events will be held at Church of the Redeemer, and a public event at the Phoenix Theatre. Stay tuned for more details, or check the Programs and Events page of the website for updates.
Other "non-queer" parties are happening all over town but they are hard to get into if you don't have an invite. The most popular parties are Planet Africa and CityTV's Canadian party which draws over 2,000 people; plus, for those in-the-know, there are a vast number of cocktails and industry parties held by various production companies and studios. The studio premiere parties are the uber-parties and the hardest ones to get into unless you know someone who knows someone, and these take place at exclusive restaurants or stores like Chanel and Holt Renfrew. You can always people watch outside the parties as people go in and hope you can talk your way in at the door.
The films are easier to navigate and really what TIFF is all about.
Food and Culture
Places to eat vary. There are many in the Yorkville area although they do tend to be a bit pricey. But you may want to splurge as you may find yourself eating next to a celebrity. Sightings are common during the festival especially at Sassafrass or Bistro 990.
For a fantastic view of Toronto make sure to head up to the Panorama Lounge at the top of the Manulife or the Roof Top Bar at the top of the Park Hyatt. The latter is where I saw Pierce Brosnan last year as I sipped my martini.
For other options near the theatres go west on Bloor to the Annex where there are lots of Sushi places (Sushi on Bloor), pubs (Pauper's) and general cuisine (Dooney's). If you go East on Bloor you hit Yonge. Walk down and you find an array of places from the gay, The Living Well, to the Asian Fusion , Saigon Sister and Spring Rolls. A lovely three-story restaurant right near the Varsity theatre is 7-West and if you want all gay remember Church Street and go to Byzantium or Zelda's.
Now if you can get out of the theatre and want to see some of Toronto's culture head to the near-by museums. I would suggest the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). Or head to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) where there is a great Andy Warhol exhibit on at the moment. If you want something kitschy make sure to stop by the Bata Shoe Museum on Bloor Street for a history of shoes—from 18th century silk damask buckle shoes to Elton John's monogrammed platforms circa 1973, this museum is one of a kind.
Festival is surrounded by great shopping options from the ritzy Yorkville to the more discount options of Yonge Street. If you are looking for a great department store that seems to have everything visit The Bay.
There's a lot to see in Toronto so head down to College or Queen St. for an outdoor patio and a rest between films.
Enjoy the festival and don't forget to visit our website for new and upcoming information. There are lots of options! So have fun during this year's Queer Lounge.
Queer Lounge is a non-profit organization. Queer Lounge supports the Toronto International Film Festival Group and is sanctioned as a "TIFF Extra."