A leisurely (if lengthy) trip from Telluride to Toronto on Tuesday, intending to get me to the Toronto International Film Festival more than a full day in advance of its Thursday, September 6 opening, hit a snag, after a three-hour van ride to Grand Junction and an hour plane trip to Denver.
The heat of the day mandated a lighter plane (damn those tiny regional airplanes), and 11 of the 63 people scheduled to fly to Toronto were summarily bounced, me among them. It took four hours after this announcement to process our paperwork and shuttle us to a not-so-nearby hotel, clutching room vouchers and food vouchers (oddly not applicable for the alcohol we all needed) and compensation checks based on some unexplained formula tied to our initial ticket price – I would have been pleased with mine, had I not seen that the check handed to the person ahead of me was 50% higher.
That person was Daniel Dreifuss, the young producer of “No,” the Chilean film about the 1988 ad campaign against the continued dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, which I’d seen on my last day at Telluride. He’d introduced the film, so I recognized him as a fellow traveler, so to speak. Luckily, because we chatted about Telluride and movies and Toronto for the four hours we were stranded in Terminal B, on the shuttles to and from the airport, and on the cab ride into Toronto. My memory for filmographies and assorted film trivia is not what it once was – I claim to have turned it all over to the IMDB – but I still usually win one or more trivia contests at Telluride screenings (of which there were disappointingly few this year), giving my hostess the resulting pounds of beef jerky and fat TCM movie books. But Daniel D. astounded me with his Rainman-like knowledge of Oscar nominees, including not only who won but who should have won, in his opinion.
My plan to pick up my pass and bumph early, and spend a leisurely day perusing the over-450-page catalogue and two screening schedules (public and press & industry) – not to mention seeing a movie or two – went up in smoke. I arrived in late afternoon on Wednesday, and missed an early-morning screening of “Midnight’s Children.” (That makes five I’ve missed, counting four at Telluride.) I did have the distinct and particularly Torontonian pleasure of attending a posh party – even if there was a cash bar! – that was part of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s free Wednesday night, celebrating the announcement of the four photographers (two Brits and two Canadians) nominated for the $50,000 Grange Prize. The nominees were chosen by a four-member jury that included my friend Sara Knelman; the winner is chosen by the public (and you can vote!).
On the Thursday morning I had a foolish plan to be in line at the 9 a.m. opening of the Press Office, pick up my pass, and waltz into a 9:15 a.m. screening of “Looper,” the uncharacteristically non-Canadian and extremely commercial opening-night film. In the event, I arrived at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, where the Press Office is located, at 9:15, running into ex-San Franciscan, now New Yorker Chi-Hui Yang, as he rides up King Street on one of those rent-by-the-hour bikes. It’s the first hour of the first day, and we both already feel behind, as he’d thought he might go to the 8:45 press screening of “Rust and Bone” or the 9:15 screening of “Shanghai,” neither of which I was aware of. In the event, it takes me a couple of hours to pick up the pass, run into John Powers of “Vogue,” whose tale of being unable to extract his computer from the safe in his hotel room outweighs my stuck-in-Denver-overnight one, Robert Koehler of “Variety,” who it turns out had Daniel Dreifuss as a student at UCLA, Jeffrey Wells, James Quandt, and Haden Guest. We are all somewhat confused about obtaining tickets for some screenings that are combined Press & Industry, and Public; neither the public box office nor the press one seems to know what to do. It’s the first day!