So I am currently waiting in the "rush" line to get into the film Leviathan, meaning if this post ends abruptly it is likely because they are either are letting me into the screening or informing me that I wasted my last hour waiting in line. I am writing this from the atrium of the TIFF Bell Lightbox building. For those who have not been to TIFF before, this is the festival's headquarters, opened in 2010, having been built on land donated by filmmakers and father-and-son Ivan Reitman and Jason Reitman
TIFF is housed in the first five floors of the building, which includes room for six theaters (five open to the public) and all the festival's offices. Rising high above the TIFF facilities is the Bell Lightbox tower, some 46 stories tall. The building itself is thoroughly modern in style, featuring lots of large open spaces and glass, which fits with TIFF's self designate motto of being the "friendly festival." We were lucky enough to go on a tour of the facilities yesterday, and our tour guide made certain to promote a view of the festival as being more accessible and open than other similarly-sized festivals, perhaps most notably Cannes. This view of the festival is reinforced by a community-oriented feel to the entire festival, with volunteers seemingly on every street corner of the city, ready to answer any questions. An oft-repeated advertisement before screenings promotes TIFF's openness to new filmmakers by stating, "You don't have to have a rich uncle in the business."
Perhaps the most interesting counterpoint to this image is the "master control room." Hovering above the atrium in a conspicuous red box (the rest of the atrium is all white), the control room is where every single screen in the building is controlled. This means that not only can they control the screens in each of the six theaters here, but also every television screen scattered throughout the building, of which there are many (most show the TIFF schedule or trailers for upcoming films). The control room also can look at the feed from every security camera in the building. Part projection booth, part security room, the whole thing has a "very 1984-type of feel," as even our tour guide admitted.