TIFF laments Drake’s ab­sence

No hard feel­ings though, holds out pos­si­bil­ity of fu­ture col­lab­o­ra­tion

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - ENTERTAINMENT - VIC­TO­RIA AHEARN

TORONTO — Drake’s scrubbed ap­pear­ance at the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val may have left some fans up­set, but the two could still col­lab­o­rate in the fu­ture, sug­gests the artis­tic di­rec­tor of TIFF.

The Toronto rap­per can­celled his highly an­tic­i­pated ap­pear­ance at a screen­ing of Mon­sters and Men, with only a few hours’ no­tice on Sept. 6, the first day of the fes­ti­val, say­ing he couldn’t make it be­cause of his tour.

Some fans com­plained that they’d shelled out good money for a ticket to the event, which also in­cluded ac­cess to the fes­ti­val’s exclusive open­ing-night party.

TIFF artis­tic di­rec­tor and fu­ture co-head Cameron Bai­ley says the fes­ti­val was “dis­ap­pointed” but adds he un­der­stands “things can change.”

“We’re hop­ing that since Drake is so com­mit­ted to this city and so com­mit­ted in a new way to film and to vis­ual me­dia, that there will be other op­por­tu­ni­ties for us to work to­gether,” Bai­ley said in an in­ter­view.

“He’s pro­duc­ing now, he’s adapt­ing the Top Boy TV se­ries from the U.K. for North Amer­ica, he’s ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer on Mon­sters and Men. There are a lot of things he’s get­ting into now, and he’s work­ing with young di­rec­tors like Karena Evans.

“So I think there’s prob­a­bly some­thing in our fu­ture.”

De­spite the open­ing-night hic­cup, this year’s in­stal­ment that wraps with an awards cer­e­mony on Sun­day has been “a big suc­cess,” said Bai­ley.

He noted they ’ve had “great au­di­ences” and “a lot of real dis­cov­er­ies” of crit­i­cally ac­claimed films that made their world pre­mière at the fes­ti­val, in­clud­ing Green Book, If Beale Street Could Talk and Wid­ows.

Ques­tions about fes­ti­val at­ten­dance arose af­ter some posts on Twit­ter showed empty seats dur­ing open­ing-night screen­ings of Mon­sters and Men and Out­law King.

Bai­ley said while they won’t know to­tal at­ten­dance fig­ures un­til af­ter Sun­day, “the houses have been, for the most part, quite full.”

“I think what some­times hap­pens is, we made a big ef­fort this year to start screen­ings on time, as close to the sched­uled start time as pos­si­ble,” he said.

“What that means is some­times when the in­tro­duc­tions on­stage start and the film­maker starts speak­ing about their film, but even when the lights go down, the house is still not full and that’s be­cause peo­ple are still com­ing in.”

Some fes­ti­val-go­ers and watch­ers have also com­plained about the cost of a TIFF ticket.

Bai­ley noted they have $10 tick­ets avail­able to those aged 25 and un­der for week­day, day­time screen­ings.

For those over 25, tick­ets to reg­u­lar screen­ings are $18, “which I think is still quite rea­son­able for a fes­ti­val ticket,” Bai­ley said.

When it comes to tiered pric­ing for venues with as­signed seat­ing, which can range from $25$82, Bai­ley noted TIFF is one of the most in-de­mand fes­ti­vals in the world with films that are be­ing screened for the first time in Canada, if not in­ter­na­tion­ally.

“We’re lim­ited in terms of the num­ber of seats we have in even our biggest the­atres. Those tick­ets are more ex­pen­sive, there’s no doubt,” he said.

“But they ’re not nearly as ex­pen­sive as we see them be­ing resold for on some of those re­sale sites.”

In the wake of the #MeToo move­ment, this year’s fes­ti­val also has a newly cre­ated hot­line for those who want to re­port ha­rass­ment.

“I’ve been told by a head of HR that there was some use of the hot­line,” Bai­ley said. “For con­fi­den­tial­ity we can’t give more de­tails than that but I think it’s given peo­ple a re­source, some place to turn to.”

GETTY FILES

Drake watches a ten­nis match at Wim­ble­don on July 10, in Lon­don, Eng­land. The Toronto-born rap­per scrubbed a planned ap­pear­ance at the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val on Sept. 6, leav­ing fans miffed. But fes­ti­val or­ga­niz­ers say it won’t stop them from work­ing with Drake in the fu­ture.

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