Talking films at every corner

Minutes after we watched Roma and interacted with its maker Alfonso Cuaron, the guy sitting in front of me at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto turned back and suddenly confessed to have wept copiously through the film. For the next 10 minutes we discussed what makes people cry at the movies and then went our separate ways, without even having introduced ourselves to each other. On the last day of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), while taking my order of avocado toast and mango chia seed pudding, the young attendant made me feel bad for having missed Peter Strickland’s In Fabric. “It was like David Lynch making Phantom Thread ,” he said about the film that he had chosen for the People’s Choice Award. Food waited while we continued to exchange notes on Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk . Unlike the rarefied world of Cannes or Venice, TIFF is marked by overwhelming public participation. Animated debates and discussions are de rigueur, and the energy and engagement of Torontonians is palpable across venues — in Scotiabank, in the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre, and in Ryerson University. The most abiding images of the festival for me are the patient queues winding through several blocks way past the theatres, even as early as 7.30 a.m. TIFF makes glamour accessible to the masses: stars and directors attend public screenings and there are lively, intelligent post-screening interactions with them. It is no wonder then that the festival’s People’s Choice Award has become the barometer of choices at the Oscars over the years. Usually, film festivals are all about skimping on meals in the rush to screenings. However, there’s lots to eat between movies at TIFF. From Sri Lankan ‘Ravi Soups’ and a Thai ‘Khao San Road’ to ‘Paramount Middle Eastern Kitchen’, an eclectic spread awaits even vegetarians in this foodie’s paradise.

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