Toronto International Film Festival

5 Steps to a Better TIFF Experience


Now that we’ve closed the Toronto International Film Festival 2016, it’s a great time to pause and reflect on what we’ve learned and how we can apply that to future film festivals and industry events. Attending TIFF, by day three I was seeing attendees with dark circled eyes from lack of sleep, humpbacked from the weight of all their gear, and pausing on the street to rub at their sore feet. With so much to see, not just at the festival but throughout Toronto, it can be difficult to convince oneself to invest in self-care. But with a 10 day long festival, ignoring your body could mean you miss out.

Try our 10 steps to a better TIFF next year — and try these out at any other festivals, industry mixers, and special events this season!

Get Good Walking Shoes


Toronto International Film Festival is spread over about six miles. And, yes, public transportation is great. It’s fast, reliable, and inexpensive. But after about 10:30 a.m. the busses start to fill up. If you’re attending the festival as a film buff this won’t be a problem. But if you’re showing a film, photographing an event, or attending an event promoting your film, you’ll be hauling gear or wearing fancy clothes — and you might want to skip the bus.  You could order a taxi or an Uber, but that cost will climb quickly.

So, what are you to do?

Strap on your best shoes and get ready to walk. For TIFF, I recommend arriving a day before the festival. Pick up a map at the convention center. Then hit every theater on the map. Learn the shortcuts through parks, which streets will be blocked off, and where the rush lines will be formed. This information will make the next 10 days a breeze and your FitBit will think you’ve transformed into a tri-athlete.

The universally applicable takeaway? For any industry event, make sure you know where you’re going, how to get there, and a backup plan of how to get there — then allow plenty of extra time.

Make a Plan But Don’t Marry It



As previously stated, there’s a lot to do once you get to TIFF. Do yourself a favor and make a plan.

TIFF provides a color coded calendar on their website labeling each event. There are little descriptions in the calendar. Circle every event you hope to attend. Then place every event in a Google Calendar or a travel calendar you can have on you at all times. I prefer Google Calendar because it can send you an alert 10, 15, or 20 minutes before the event. If you place the location of the screening or event in the calendar you can also use Google Maps to navigate instantly, if you skipped step number one.

Now that you’ve cured your fear of missing out, be prepared to chuck the entire plan. Listen, when you’re walking around the Toronto International Film Festival you’re going to find so much to do. This year Express set up a pop up clothing store, Lindor released a new candy and were giving out bags for free, McDonald’s gave out free coffee accompanied by a live DJ performance, and Pure Leaf gave out thousands of samples of their tea. There were free concerts and red carpets and local street performers. Downtown Toronto is lined with the mouthwatering smells spilling out of restaurants.

Don’t miss an amazing opportunity to explore something new.  The universal takeaway for any industry event: plan ahead, but be open to surprises.

Hydrate and Eat



This may sound like common sense advice, but it’s so easy to forget that each day at a festival is like two days in your normal life. With concerts, free food, speakers, conferences, and, of course, film, there’s something to do from sun up to sundown. The fear of missing out is real.

If you decide to follow our first rule, you’ll be walking back and forth all day.

Dehydration leads to fatigue, which means you’ll be moving slower and thinking slower — not a good look if you’re trying to present your work. A good rule of thumb is to keep a bottle of water in your bag. Before you leave the theater, fill up at the water fountain. Try to drink two bottles of water a day and you’ll be ahead of the crowd.

With so much to do it’s likely your adrenalin will get pumping. It’s difficult at times to slow down to eat, but luckily there are so many restaurants around town. King Street is littered with cuisine from around the world. Money won’t be an issue. There are street carts selling everything from hot dogs to falafel. Restaurants range from Canadian favorite Tim Horton’s to Starbucks to McDonald’s on the cheaper side to high end seafood restaurants and everything in between.

Universal takeaway for any industry event: hydrate and eat. You’ll want to be at your best, and you need fuel.

Do More Than The Festival – Meet the Locals


Toronto is an amazing city. Apparent in their architecture, they’ve managed to fuse the old with the new. Pockets of communities surround the downtown area. The Entertainment district is right downtown. Here you’ll find film financiers, publishers, and distributors. Head over to Kensington Market to explore vintage clothes shopping, classic coffee houses, and beautiful street art.

If there’s one stereotype that’s true about Canada, it’s that the people here are incredibly friendly. Even in the financial district it’s not uncommon to stop and strike up a conversation with curious locals. By sitting down with citizens, you can learn about hole in the wall dining, shortcuts, and, best of all, local events. Just because TIFF is in full swing doesn’t mean Toronto is slowing down. The Blue Jays are in the middle of an amazing series, the World Beach Volleyball Tournament is taking place, and soon the World Hockey Games will be kicking off. Locals can give you insight into the secret world behind TIFF.  

Universal takeaway for any industry event: focus on the people and chat with the locals, and you’ll likely discover something incredible.




Everyone who is anyone attends these festivals. You never know to whom you’re talking, so be sure to ask. As I stood in the rush line for Netflix’s new show, “ARQ,” I struck up a conversation with a woman in line. We talked about the films we saw and which were our favorites, and then we began to talk about what we do. She said she was industry but when I pried a little further, it turned out she was a huge producer. She was At TIFF trying to make deals with Netflix, supporting friends, and locking in actors. We had such a good time she invited me, and a guest, to an industry event the same night. All this came because I turned around in a rush line to ask a question.

Universal takeaway for any industry event: you never know who you might meet. Really.

That’s it. Those are the essential rules to a better TIFF. If you weren’t at TIFF try applying these tips to other industry events. If you’re attending a play don’t be afraid to explore the area around the theater. Turn to the person next to you in line and ask them about their day. Come with a plan, but be ready to embrace the moment. You never know what you might find.

Everything That Makes the 2016 Toronto Film Festival Great


Aspiring filmmakers and movie enthusiasts are always looking forward to September. The Toronto Film Festival never fails to inspire, providing us with a look at promising movies, rising stars, and the veteran actors and actresses we love to see on the big screen. This year’s Toronto Film Festival is full of all the reasons reasons why each year we count down the days until this legendary event begins — plus a few extra reasons for the NYFA community to get excited.

NYFA Alum and Instructor Screening Films

This year, the Academy is especially proud of two of our own who debuted new work at Toronto: alumnus Eric Janvier and editing instructor Bob Eisenhardt both screened original films. Their two movies are:

“Gods Acre” – directed by Kelton Stepanowich and produced by NYFA alumnus Eric Janvier.

“Citizen Jane: Battle for the City” – directed by Matt Tyrnauer and edited by NYFA instructor Bob Eisenhardt.

Congratulations! This is truly an accomplishment worth celebrating. And there is plenty more at the festival to get excited about…

The Oscar Buzz


While many films are shown during the 10-day event, only so many of them are considered great — and of those great films, even less receive Oscar buzz. It just wouldn’t be the Toronto Film Festival without a handful of movies already receiving enough acclaim and positive reviews to be considered worthy of an Oscar nomination.

One of these films is “The Finest,” directed by Lone Scherfig and starring Sam Claflin, Gemma Arterton, and Bill Nighy. And “Moonlight,” a coming-of-age story adapted from a biographical play and co-produced by Brad Pitt, is also making waves at TIFF 2016 — enough that the word masterpiece is already being thrown around.

After being a hit at the Venice Film Festival, “Jackie” continued its bid for Oscar contender by being well-received at this year’s event as well. Directed by Pablo Larrain and written by Noah Oppenheim, this film stars Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy and is set during the immediate aftermath of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

The Rising Stars

One of the best things about the Toronto Film Festival is that you can expect to see some of your favorite actors and actresses. Of course, it’s also exciting seeing up-and-coming stars begin their ascent to fame  by featuring in a project shown at the anticipated event.

Sophie Nélisse is a 16-year-old Canadian actress doing just that as part of the Rising Stars program. Mylène Mackay, Jared Abrahamson, and Grace Glowicki are other young talents to keep an eye on at this year’s festival and beyond.

The Premieres


There’s no shortage of things to check out at every Toronto Film Festival, and this year’s event is no exception. Of course, the reason this renowned film festival remains influential after 40 years is because it gives people a first look at the next films to hit theaters across the globe.

The show kicked off with the premier of “The Magnificent Seven,” a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s classic “Seven Samurai” starring Denzel Washington. Leonardo DiCaprio’s environmental documentary “Before the Flood” also saw its first showing at the event. The film features DiCaprio himself as he campaigns to bring awareness about the threat of climate change.

Other notable premieres include “Nocturnal Animals” starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal, sci-fi film “Colossal” starring Anne Hathaway, and Ben Wheatley’s “Free Fire.” 3D musical comedy “Sing” was another anticipated premiere with Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, and John C. Reilly being only a handful of the many big stars offering their voices for the film.

The Best Dressed Stars

Each day gets off to a stylish start as beautiful ladies and gents hit the red carpet. While some Hollywood people attract the wrong kind of attention with their attire, this year we are seeing plenty of fashionable stars making their presence known the right way. Among these include Reese Witherspoon and her trendy off-the-shoulder floral brocade dress made by Ulyana Sergeenko Couture.

Other A-listers who wowed us with their wardrobe choice include Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Camila Alves. On the men’s side, guys like Matthew Mcconaughey, Gerard Butler, Armie Hammer, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Christian Bale.

What were your favorite moments of TIFF 2016? Let us know in the comments below!

6 Must-See Films at Toronto International Film Festival 2016

Filmmakers and movie lovers alike are counting down the days until Toronto International Film Festival 2016. The annual public event brings in thousands of people from across the globe for an 11-day celebration of our favorite entertainment media. Last year, over 473,000 attendees showed up to enjoy the festival alongside more than 5,400 industry professionals and over 1,200 journalists.

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The TIFF has grown to become the world’s most influential film festival for giving us a sneak peak at rising stars and possible box-office hits. Many films who had their North American premiere here went on to win awards and widespread acclaim, including “The King’s Speech,” “Argo,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” and “Silver Lining Playbook.”

Boasting an impressive lineup of almost 400 films and including more than a dozen galas and nearly 50 special presentations, this year’s festival is set to be another groundbreaking affair. But with so much to keep track of, perhaps you’re wondering which movies and stars are the ones you don’t want to miss.

To help you out, we’ve provided a round-up spotlighting films that you should definitely look out for. Whether it features a renowned actor or is an anticipated follow-up by a breakout director, you can bet these films already have people talking as we get closer to TIFF 2016’s opening on September 8.

1. “A Monster Calls”

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A. Bayona is known for directing a number of lauded films, including “The Orphanage” and “The Impossible.” The Spaniard’s ongoing success has earned him a directing gig for the sequel to 2015’s “Jurassic World.” But before he prepares to direct arguably his biggest project yet, Bayona is preparing a fantasy adventure drama based on an award-winning children’s book.

“A Monster Calls” tells the story of a young boy who is overcome with grief as his ill mother inches closer to death. During this time of loneliness, he encounters a tree-like monster that comes to his room each night and tells him stories. Notable stars featured in this adaptation include Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, and Liam Neeson — as the monster.

2. “Blair Witch”

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In 1999, the remake of “The Haunting” was predicted to take the spotlight as the top horror movie of the year. Instead, that honor went to a low-budget movie (less than $60,000!) with no famous actors or use of CGI whatsoever. Yet “The Blair Witch Project” was a runaway success, confounding all expectations and launching the career of NYFA grad Joshua Leonard. Leonard went on to prolific work in film and TV, with such high profile projects as “If I Stay,” “Humpday,” “Bates Motel,” and the current Duplass brothers’ show “Togetherness” on HBO.

“The Blair Witch Project” was a classic tale of David vs. Goliath, as the breakout indie feature was able to outperform star-studded “The Haunting” via a genius marketing campaign and word of mouth.

Despite it’s success, the 1999 summer flick was also a very divisive film; people either hated it or loved it. Yet both fans and critics of the original “The Blair Witch Project” are anxious to see what director Adam Wingard does with this unexpected sequel. Judging by early opinions from San Diego Comic-Con attendees who saw the surprise trailer, horror film fans won’t want to miss it.

3. “Lion”

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“Lion” will serve as Garth Davis’ first feature-length film after finding success as director for several episodes of “Top of the Lake.” The film is an adaptation of a novel and features a number of notable actors, including Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel, and David Wenham.

In “Lion,” a young Indian boy finds himself thousands of kilometers away from his home after boarding the wrong train. He manages to survive many challenges and is eventually adopted by an Australian family. More than two decades later, he uses modern technology like Google Earth to find the location of his real family.

4. “Jackie”

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One of the most impactful events in 20th century American history was the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. In “Jackie,” we get to see the aftermath of the the president’s untimely death through the eyes of the person closest to him: former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

“Jackie” stars Natalie Portman and is directed by Pablo Larrain, a Chilean filmmaker who is also behind the upcoming biography drama “Neruda.” Portman has been eyed to portray the beloved First Lady since 2012, and may earn herself another Oscar win should the film live up to expectations.

5. “Planetarium”

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Natalie Portman also stars in this upcoming film alongside Lily-Rose Depp, as the women portray two spiritualist sisters in 1930s Paris with the ability to commune with the dead. The sisters are discovered by an influential French film producer who becomes so intrigued by their supernatural gift that he hires the pair to shoot a provocative film.

“Planetarium” is written and directed by Rebecca Zlotowski, a French filmmaker herself. She has gained fame in recent years with excellent films like “Belle épine,” “Grand Central,” and “You and the Night.”

6. “Trespass Against Us”

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This crime drama is directed by English award-winning filmmaker Adam Smith and features an experienced cast of talented actors, including Michael Fassbender, Sean Harris, Brendan Gleeson, and more.

In the film, a man named Chad Cutler (Fassbender) struggles to leave behind a life of crime by cutting all ties from his outlaw relatives. As you’d expect, his family isn’t too keen on the idea and make his life hell. “Trespass Against Us” will no doubt show us another side of the gritty truth behind organized crime — and who better to help deliver it than Fassbender.

The New York Film Academy is proud and excited to congratulate 2008 producing program alum Eric Janvier on the Toronto International Film Festival premier of his movie, “Gods Acre.”

“I was able to use the skills I learned at NYFA after graduating,” said Janvier. “I want to thank the staff at NYFA for all the great things they’ve taught me, and I wouldn’t be where I am without the school.”

Honorable Mentions

  • “American Pastoral”
  • Dog Eat Dog
  • “Catfight”
  • “The Age of Shadows”
  • “Sing”
  • “JT + The Tennessee Kids”
  • “Frantz”
  • “The Magnificent Seven”
  • “The Bad Batch”
  • “Bleed for This”

Which films are you most excited to see at Toronto International Film Festival 2016? Be sure to let us know in the comments!