My first ever visit to tiff was a completely enjoyable experience. Even though the trip was only for 4 days, I managed to view a respectable number of films and caught up with friends and family while enjoying Toronto's many wonderful cafes, bookstores and food joints.
Film x 8
Gorbaciòf: The Cashier who Liked Gambling (2010, Italy, Stefano Incerti)
Guest (2010, Spain, José Luis Guerín)
Red Nights (2009, Hong Kong/France, Julien Carbon/Laurent Courtiaud)
The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman (2010, China co-production, Wuershan)
Essential Killing (2010, Poland co-production, Jerzy Skolimowski)
Viva Riva! (2010, Congo co-production, Djo Munga)
Block-C (1994, Turkey, Zeki Demirkubuz)
Oki’s Movie (2010, South Korea, Hong Sang-soo)
Fatigue was a big reason in why I had to halt my tally at only 8 films.
I arrived in Toronto on Thursday afternoon with no sleep after an early morning flight. I still managed to make my first film, the 3 pm showing of Gorbaciòf, less than 2 hours after landing at the airport. The day only got longer after that as I managed to see 3 more films, including the midnight feature The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman. I got back to the hotel around 2:30 am Friday but was awake at 7:30 am in order to make my 9 am show of Essential Killing. I only saw 3 films on Friday as I had plans to meet with family for dinner on Friday night.
However, I was drained after seeing 7 films with less than 6 hours sleep over a 2 day period. So I decided to skip seeing any films on Saturday and only saw one more show on Sunday morning.
The Seattle based coffee chain that dominates downtown Vancouver and Calgary is also omnipresent in downtown Toronto, especially near all the film festival venues. But with a little bit of effort, I managed to find some excellent cafes and avoid the big chain altogether.
Dark Horse Espresso
Another goal on this trip was to finally visit all the bookstores on my shortlist.
Of Swallows, their deeds and the Winter below
World's Biggest Bookstore -- I was not aware that this was owned by Chapters/Indigo but the diverse selection of books/DVD set it apart from the regular Chapters/Indigo stores.
The Beguiling -- Girish describes this comic book store perfectly:
"If you're an indie comics aficionado, leave your credit card at home and take a budgeted amount of cash. You've been warned. "
It is indeed quite easy to spend money here. I came across some amazing stuff such as an anthology of Swedish comics, Independent Canadian & American titles, Italian comics and some Japanese titles that I have wanted for a while. I had to force myself to leave the store before I spent too much money.
Food & Beer
One of my fondest memories from a previous trip to Toronto almost a decade ago was going to Marche in downtown for some amazing food. So I was quite eager to visit it again. I am absolutely delighted to say that the food is still quite incredible.
Beer Markt came highly recommended because of the huge number of beers they serve (100+). The selection is indeed very impressive and I came across a very good stout (Dragon Stout from Jamaica) that I had never heard of previously.
More films? Sure
There is no time for film withdrawal to set in because CIFF starts in a few days. Atleast the prospect of seeing some great films slightly offsets the negative sentiment of constant rain and a bit of snow that is already gathering on the city streets.