21 Random Facts You Never Knew About TIFF

By Lisa Lagace

TIFF has officially arrived.

Parties, 4am last call, celeb sightings and, oh yeah, movie premiers, are all Toronto is going to be talking about for the next 10 days.

With that in mind, we thought it’d be fun to hit you with some TIFF truths you probably never knew.

If nothing else, you’ll kill your next movie trivia night…

1. TIFF began in 1976, calling itself the “Festival of Festivals,” with the premise being to show off the best films that had screened at all the other international festivals.

2. The festival’s inaugural opening night film, Cousin, Cousine, screened at the now defunct Ontario Place Cinesphere. R.I.P.

3. Reclusive French director Jean Luc-Goddard is widely known for not showing up for tributes, but in 1980 he attended the festival during their retrospective honouring him.

4. 1978 was the year with the least amount of films screened, with just 85.

5. The TIFF Bell Lightbox officially opened its doors in 2010 and is built on property owned by the parents of Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman.

6. Two years earlier, the opening year of the festival – 1976 – they screened 127. Two steps forward, and three back?

7. 1984 wins for the year the most films were screened with 460.

8. TIFF’s People’s Choice Award has become a powerful teller of the film that will go on to take home many of the big movie awards in the coming years. Past winners include The King’s Speech, Slumdog Millionaire, Precious, Roger & Me, Silver Linings Playbook and Hotel Rwanda.

9. 1984 was also the year in which they held a massive retrospective on Canadian film, which explains the high number of films that appeared at the festival that year. #GoCanadaGo 

10. In 2001, when the morning of September 11th happened, all the screenings at TIFF went dark for the day. The next day the festival screenings resumed, but with a much darker tone, and all parties were cancelled.

11. TIFF didn’t offer advanced ticket sales until 1993 – imagine what a nightmare it must have been to score a ticket to your choice screening back then.

12. In 1994, TIFF ditched the Festival of Festivals name and officially became the Toronto International Film Festival. So, really, TIFF has only been around 20 years…

13. The estimated annual economic impact TIFF brings to the city is $170 million.

14. 1994 is also when former festival programmer Piers Handling took over duties as the Festival Director and CEO.

15. These days, over 4,000 films are submitted in the hopes of screening at TIFF each year; less than 400 make it into the festival.

16. Henry Winkler was one of the first celebrities ever to attend TIFF, back in 1977. So yes, the Fonz has always been ahead of his time.

17. An admission ticket back in 1976 cost a mere $2 – these days a regular screening will cost you about $22, and a premium screening (aka: the one where the celebs show up) about $45.

18. In its first year, 35,000 tickets were sold. In in 2009, 500,000 tickets were sold.

19. Michael Moore often credits TIFF for his successful career after he won the People’s Choice Award in 1989 for Roger and Me and the film went on to become one of the highest grossing documentaries of all time.

20. In 1978 the screening of Canadian film In Praise of Older Women almost caused a riot when hundreds of ticket holders were turned away from the oversold screening.

21. There were 176 accredited members of the media the first year of the festival. By 2010, that number rose to 1,100. This year? We’ll let you know when it’s all over…


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