Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Film fanatics crowded behind the gates, smartphone in hand, ready to snap a selfie with the likes of James Franco, Jennifer Lawrence and Angelina Jolie, to name a few.
As the host of the hugely popular film festival, the city of Toronto and the local economy reaps many benefits from the event.
TIFF is one of the biggest events in the city. Not only does the festival bring people in from all over the world (celebrities and major film producers included), it also provides an incredible boost in revenue for local businesses, as well as the job market.
As of 2013, the festival brought in roughly $189 million to the local economy. TNS Canada Ltd. conducted a study on behalf of TIFF, and found that the Bell Lightbox Theatre in downtown Toronto created 2,295 jobs for the festival and its year-round programming. The Bell Lightbox is TIFF’s official headquarters, which features five cinemas, two restaurants, major exhibitions and galleries, a gift shop, rooftop terrace, and learning studios. The estimated amount was added to the economy in the form of restaurant and hotel receipts as well as tourism revenue.
Although the festival receives funding from federal, provincial and municipal governments, TIFF generated an impressive $58.2 million in tax revenue in 2013. With TIFF in town, several bars and restaurants in the city extended last call to 4 a.m. Most were concentrated in the Lightbox area, including the likes of the new Bisha Hotel, Fring’s, The Office Pub and the Ritz-Carlton.
Out-of-town visitors make up a huge portion of TIFF’s attendance. The festival attracted 27,434 foreign visitors to Toronto in 2012, including 4,200 film professionals.
The real buzz surrounding TIFF, however, boils down to its star-gazing potential. Famous movie stars like George Clooney, Emma Stone, Halle Berry, Jake Gyllenhaal, Julianne Moore and Benedict Cumberbatch walked down King Street West to a frenzy of media, photographers and die-hard fans. Hollywood producers and directors like Guillermo del Toro and Darren Aronofsky also made appearances to promote their latest films.
This year’s festival featured a fantastic lineup of national and international films. Some of the most noteworthy films included The Disaster Artist, directed by James Franco, Unicorn Store featuring Brie Larson in her directorial debut, and Mudbound, directed by Dee Rees. The Florida Project, a film by director Sean Baker, was one of the standout hits of the festival, telling a story about children and the magic of a child’s imagination while growing up poor in a motel across from Orlando’s Disney World.
There were also some great Canadian films that debuted, including North of Superior by Graeme Ferguson, Don’t Talk to Irene by Pat Mills, and Mary Goes Round by Molly McGlynn.
TIFF 2017 was a tremendous success for the City of Toronto as well as the international filmmakers. Actor Idris Elba summed up the experience perfectly: “We made this film, in Canada, with Canadians, and we did not want to go home,” said Elba. “Toronto is fantastic.”
Aileen Ormoc | The Edge Blog