The Toronto International Film Festival kicked off today and this year it’s decided to literally take the party to the people by turning King street from University to Petter in a giant street festival. The event started yesterday and runs until Sunday night. In addition to celebrity watching, Festival Street, as TIFF is calling it, is offering live music, board games, art installations and extended patios at various King street restaurants. Even HAL, the computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey is there, ready and waiting to take your picture.
Not everyone is happy about King street being shutdown for four days. Yes, there’s no denying that the road closure does mess with the TTC but as someone who takes the 504 car pretty much every week day, walking to Spadina to catch the streetcar wasn’t that big of deal. Assuming you’re able bodied, give yourself an extra 10 minutes and relish the opportunity to get some exercise while checking out a slice of one of this city’s biggest annual events (also, it’s only four days, two of which are the weekend).
TIFF has come under criticism for increasingly moving away from being the people’s festival. Festival Street, which is free and easily accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds is a fun, and smart, move back in the direction of “the people.” True, it would be nice Festival Street could somehow incorporate more film into it but hey, it’s only the event’s first year. Maybe that’s something the organizers can strive to do for next year’s party.
I checked out the festival twice today, once in the afternoon when things were still getting set up and then after work. While things were definitely active around 2:30 pm, by 5:30 the street was well on its way to being packed. I have no doubt that as the evening progressed, those extended patios would have filled out and TIFF would have had quite the party on its hands.
Of course if King street gets too busy, there’s always the Roy Thomson Hall patio party. On Friday, it starts at 6 pm and while it’s closed on Saturday for a private party, it’s open again on Sunday from 2 pm until the crowds die down. There will be a bar, a DJ, a screen showing footage from the venue’s own red carpet and you’ll be sharing the same air as some of Hollywood’s biggest names.