Not even the death of Queen Elizabeth II could stop the hustle and bustle of another in-person Toronto International Film Festival during the Covid era as crowds lined up for premieres and gobbled up food carts in line at the festival. (also known as King Street).
What upset festival goers in Hogtown, however, was the second year of TIFF’s digital ticketing website via Ticketmaster. Last year it was not a problem given the reduced capacity at TIFF venues and the lower attendance due to fears of the pandemic. However, judging by the turnout at Roy Thomson Hall tonight for the festival’s opening film, The swimmers From Netflix, it wouldn’t be a surprise to learn that TIFF has returned to its pre-pandemic attendance of over 300K.
And with great demand comes great chaos. The TIFF Ticketmaster site was plagued by timeout issues, preventing festival goers from logging in and getting their tickets. Some entries, such as swimmers, it did not even appear in the accounts of some attendees.
Netflix employees resolved the issue at Roy Thomson Hall and made sure no key people were turned away, even if they didn’t have a ticket. Even four-time Oscar nominee Jason Reitman made it through the door in time for a video tribute to his late filmmaker father, Ivan Reitman, which was screened before tonight’s premiere. Still, why can’t TIFF just make paper tickets? The aggravation here doesn’t justify the printing cost savings.
In response to the TIFF Ticketmaster imbroglio, a festival representative told Deadline Tonight: “The press and industry ticket redemption issues that some of you have experienced over the last couple of days have left some users frustrated. . As with all computer systems we rely on, they are not 100% foolproof. We discovered an issue that was affecting some delegates and worked quickly to fix it. A new approach to accessing tickets was sent out to all delegates, via our press and industry Twitter, and the response was positive. We are committed to improving our service in 2023.”
Earlier today, TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey posts a two-part statement on Twitter about the death of Queen Elizabeth II, writing: “We extend our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the day of his death.”
“As we prepare to welcome Canadians and international guests to the Festival, we know that many will be deeply affected by his death. We keep his legacy in our memory.”
Bailey echoed those sentiments again for Her Majesty tonight as she took the stage, then moved on to the festival events, quickly introducing Chief Stacey Laforme of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN) who welcomed the audience.
While there was much hype at the opening night of last year’s TIFF when North American moviegoers gathered inside movie theaters for the first time after months of quarantine, Bailey reflected tonight: “The thought of coming together with numbers like this It’s been a challenge.”
Following Bailey, The swimmers director and co-writer Sally El Hosaini took the microphone and welcomed the photo producers Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Tim Cole and Ali Jaafar, who secured the story from the Mardini sisters (both present, Yusra and Sarah), as well as co-writer Jack Thorne, editor Iain Kitching and stars James Krishna. Floyd, Matthias Schweighofer and the twin actresses who play the Mardinis, Manal Issa and Nathalie Issa. The film, based on a true story, follows the journey of the Mardini sisters who fled war-torn Syria as refugees and headed to the 2016 Rio Olympics to compete in swimming.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the day of her passing.” —@cameron_tiffCEO (1/2)
—TIFF (@TIFF_NET) September 8, 2022
Elsewhere in the city, flags were lowered and Toronto’s CN Tower dimmed as politicians and public figures mourned the loss of the 96-year-old Monarch. Queen Elizabeth II made seven visits to Toronto between 1957 and 2010 according to the CBC. Before that, her first visit to the city was in 1951 as Princess Elizabeth, when she arrived in place of her father, King George VI, who was ill at the time.
The CN Tower will be dark tonight, in memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II / La Tour CN sera éteinte ce soir, en mémoire de Sa Majesté la Reine Elizabeth II pic.twitter.com/2KfQLsnsXf
— CN Tower / CN Tour (@TourCNTower) September 8, 2022