TORONTO 2007

Denied a Press Pass at Toronto Film Fest - What Gives TIFF?

by
August 30, 2007

Toronto International Film Festival

The Toronto International Film Fest kicks off on September 6th, just about 7 days from now, and I'm supposed to be covering it from start to finish. That is until the folks who run the press accreditation have insisted upon denying my press application no matter how much I try.

It took some work but I got my full festival press pass at Sundance last January - I saw total of 31 great films and I had the time of my life. Now I live for every day that brings us closer to January and Park City, Utah once again. When the possibility of Toronto popped up I was thinking about what a great opportunity it will be to head to another film fest in a new location, enjoy some great movies, and have another amazing experience. But that's just not the case, Toronto doesn't believe in that, they're all about the old, "mainstream" forms of media, not the internet.

Need I remind you (and everyone in Hollywood for that matter), that yes, 51% of teens first hear of new movies from the internet. Sure they're just teens and probably learning about the next cheesy action flick to grace the big screen, but that statistic is staggering and still strongly shows just how much power and emphasis the internet does actually have. TIFF may let in a trickle of movie websites who fall into a certain caliber that they perceive to be "worth it" - Rotten Tomatoes, ComingSoon.net maybe, and a few others. We're at that same level, too, though - the same amount of readers and hits, the same amount of passion for writing, and the same amount of emphasis on the internet.

I'll do my best to cover as much (or as little) as I can of TIFF - as I will still be traveling out there for the entire time. I'm still not sure what convinced them to deny me a pass even when I already have my travel and lodging arrangements in place and will still be there the full 10 days. I hope that I can provide more reviews, interviews, and coverage than just photos of the outsides of movie theaters and downtown Toronto. Wish me luck.

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  • Noah
    I'm not really sure why you thought you were entitled to a pass. Numerous publications, web-based and otherwise, are shot down every year. You make arrangements at your own risk, TIFF doesn't take them into consideration. And that said, since you are going, it's easier than ever to contact publicists to get into movies or get in rush lines and catch even the biggest tickets. Enjoy regardless.
  • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
    Well of course they make determinations like that, but we're a professional media outlet and have been covering major festivals as press for a while. Like I mentioned, we were accredited at Sundance which is actually a bigger and better fest than Toronto. We're entitled to a pass because we're part of the group of the web's big film sites. I'm even rooming with Rotten Tomatoes and SlashFilm and will be spending my time with the CHUD and IONCinema guys. I think the better question is why they determined I'm not entitled and where they got that from?
  • http://www.thegate.ca W. Andrew Powell
    It's unfortunate, but TIFF is a hot commodity, and the real issue is that there are already a lot of journalists, blogs, and mainstream folks looking to get into TIFF. I know at least two people who have been trying to get in for about 3 years and they work for respectable sites. I'd bet that the only reason I got in was because I originally applied in 2001, and I didn't get a full pass until 2002. Don't take it personal, but it's just a really popular festival. And I'd also venture it's the best in the world, but that's just me.
  • http://www.thegate.ca W. Andrew Powell
    PS. My bet is "Noah" would be Noah Cowan - Co-Director of TIFF (just guessing - I've been wrong before). And saying you're entitled to a pass also doesn't win you any sympathy points. Plus, if this site is that big, go buy some rush tickets like he said. There are loads of bloggers from the general public who write some awesome film reviews (a few can be found over here - http://www.tiff07.ca/blogs/yourblogs/) and that's how they cover the films.
  • http://www.greatwhitesnark.com Great White Snark
    Damn, Alex, that's annoying. Keep up the momentum, give the FirstShowing.net brand some more time to grow and I bet you'll have better luck next time. Please excuse the cliche.
  • http://www.filmgrotto.com John A.
    That does suck but you also aren't improving your chances of getting in next time with comments like "at Sundance which is actually a bigger and better fest than Toronto". If I was an organizer I'd be marking you down as never getting a pass because of comments like that. If First Showing really is as "big" as you say then take it in stride and do your best with what you get and show them that they were wrong to not give you a pass. Bitching about it doesn't really serve any real purpose other than to just vent frustrations.
  • Ethan
    Wow, I'm really sorry to hear that man. Are you going to have to pay for tickets or what?
  • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
    John, I'm not straight out "bitching" about it at all, I'm just making mention here on the site so that when my coverage is quite less than what it could be, all of my readers know why. Of course the directors of TIFF can make any call they want as to who gets in and who doesn't, but they wouldn't think to deny Rotten Tomatoes now would they? And I consider us to be in the same category as them (not in size specifically, but in news reporting, definitely). No matter the case I'm looking to head out and have a great experience at TIFF. I'm looking forward to the fest anyway and hope for the best. It's just going to be a big nuisance when the people I'm staying with (who work for Rotten Tomatoes / SlashFilm) all have press passes and I don't. We'll see how it goes.
  • http://www.themovieblog.com John Campea
    Two words for ya Alex... SCREW THEM. They actually turned me down for press passes about 3 years ago... and I'm in Toronto. So the next year when The Movie Blog was bigger and they sent me an invitation for accreditation... I basically replied "Screw you", and TIFF has basically been dead to be ever since. Each year I just ignore the TIFF, and it hasn't effected me or The Movie Blog one little bit. The very best part of the TIFF isn't the movies anyway... it's the social scene, much like Comic-Con. I'm biased obviously, but Toronto really is the best city in the world... so come on down and just enjoy the atmosphere and environment of the festival, take in a handful of movies via tickets, and just have a great time.
  • http://www.moviesonline.ca Michael
    We didnt get accreditation either but then we did not try. Frankly we can do just as good of coverage without it. We got the reviews we wanted and carried on with life. Was good meeting you at the party to Alex, we need to do it again soon. Shoot me an email some time so I have your contact info.

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