For the most part, rules of etiquette are unwritten. As humans, most of us naturally know that there is a time and place for everything.
The problem with etiquette is that the ‘standards’ vary greatly from person to person. What one person deems appalling, another person may deem normal. Etiquette really depends on where you were raised and who did the raising.
Take for instance, proper dinner table etiquette. Here in the West, it’s poor manners and terrible etiquette to place your elbows on the table. My Grandmother, a broken record, always told me to stop slouching and take my elbows off the table while I ate.
However, in France (and most of Europe, especially Greece), ‘elbows on the table’ is perfectly acceptable. In fact, they think it’s poor etiquette if you don’t have your elbows on the table. Something about hiding your hands in your lap is frowned upon. Whatever. My point is etiquette varies from place to place, person to person.
This is a problem. This is why each and every year someone says or does something so totally ridiculous at the film festival. These people are lacking TIFFiquette.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m just a prude so I’ll list the top 3 appalling events that took place over a 10 day span and you tell me; am I being too hard on people?
1. Up In The Air premiere at the Ryerson theatre, September 12, 2009
Some major Hollywood players came out for this one but that didn’t stop the moron in the front row from asking the dumbest question at the festival this year.
On the stage, conducting the Q & A was Jason Reitman, the Writer/Director. On stage with him: George Clooney (whose hand was bandaged from an accident he had the week before), Jason Bateman, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey & a few others—their names escape me.
In the audience looking and listening on? Just Oprah Winfrey. No big deal.
Here was his question:
“This question is for George Clooney: did you really hurt your hand or did you just bandage it for the festival?’ Or something like that. I don’t remember the exact wording.
Anyway, George Clooney just laughed it off and sarcastically answered, ‘yes, I did this just for the premiere tonight’.
Jason Reitman then said, ‘wow, that was an excellent question!’ which got a lot of laughs from the audience because we all knew better.
Here’s a link to the idiot caught on camera by an expert TIFFer, Larry Richman:
People like this don’t deserve to leave the house let alone attend premieres for must-see Hollywood films.
What a waste of a perfectly good opportunity to ask an intelligent question. How many times in your life do you get to pick the brain of a Hollywood heavyweight?
I hope all the other people who had their hands up but didn’t get called on, ganged up on him when he left the theatre.
2. My Year Without Sex premiere at the AMC on Richmond St. September 13, 2009
What happened this night was probably the worst display of bad manners I’ve ever seen at TIFF. And, of course the culprit was seated right next to me. Go figure.
My Year Without Sex is an Australian gem. The Writer/Director, Sarah Watt spent about four years of her life putting this film together.
When she introduced the film, she thanked Toronto for inviting her back (she was here in 2005 for ‘Look Both Ways’—another little gem of a film) and that she just had one of the best meals of her life.
The alpha male sitting next to me, turns to his friend and loudly asks ‘I wonder where she ate?!’ Then whips out his Blackberry and decides to keep it on throughout the entire film, trying to cover the screen by looking at it awkwardly in his pocket.
So, the film is over and the Q&A begins. Guess what the first question is.
That’s right, you guessed it!
‘Where did you have dinner?’
That was the first fucking question to the woman who just poured out her heart and soul on the big screen for us all to gawk at. She traveled thousands of miles for this shit?
The funny thing was, the alpha male didn’t ask the question, some other novice TIFFer did. I guessed, by her tone, she wanted it to be funny and cute but it made me want to throw something sharp at her. However, the only thing I had was an empty popcorn bag. That wouldn’t draw blood so I just gave her a dirty look on the way out of the theatre.
So, once the alpha male hears the name of the restaurant, he proceeds to yell out the address for us all to hear. ‘It’s on King & Spadina!’ he exclaims.
Because you know, he knows it all. He’s the big man about town. Clearly, he has a small penis. I bet he drives a red sports car.
Anyway, after he screams for attention, he jumps up and tells his wife, sitting in the row in front of us with her friends, ‘it’s time to go’. He does all this very loudly, saying bye to his friends, all the while, the Writer/Director is about to call on the next person for question #2.
I hope he dropped his Crackberry down a subway grate on the way home. Fucker.
3. Bad Lieutenant Port of Call: New Orleans premiere at the Ryerson theatre, September 15, 2009
Let’s face it; Nicholas Cage has not made any good films lately. He’s no National Treasure.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
So, I wasn’t feeling it for this film. I saw the first Bad Lieutenant with Harvey Keitel and didn’t like it. I’m not a Werner Herzog fanatic either so there’s three strikes right there. However, I’m a film lover and will try anything once so I tagged along with my friend that night to the premiere. She happened to know a lot about Herzog so I let her educate me.
The film was FANTASTIC. I loved it. Most of us in that theatre that night did. We laughed through the entire film—it was hilarious and so bloody uncomfortable! I love it when a film does that to me. You know, those films that make you cringe and move around in your chair. Movie Magic.
I tweeted just after I got out of the theatre that I thought Nicholas Cage was back and that I smelled Oscar. I still do. I hope he, at the very least, get’s a nomination because his portrayal of Lieutenant Terrence McDonagh was funny, scary and mesmerizing. Seriously, one of the best films (and best performances) I’ve seen this year.
So, why was it that people decided to get up and leave during the Q&A if they liked the film so much? Were they just fake clapping? Was it because Herzog’s accent was so thick, they were too lazy to listen? Or, sadly, were they still angry at Nicholas Cage for Ghost Rider? I know I am.
Unfortunately, they’re making Ghost Rider 2 so we’ll have to get over the anger. Oy vey.
When you are a true movie-lover, you ignore past mistakes when a performance like Cage’s in Bad Lieutenant graces the screen. A true movie-lover is always willing to forgive and forget.
In the theatre that night, the seats were not filled with true movie-lovers. They were filled with novice TIFFers with no idea that leaving during a Q&A is rude and just plain wrong.
If you’re one of these rude bastards, be careful the next time you do this because I usually sit in aisle seats. I have no problem with tripping you.
These rude bastards are also the same people who sat in their seats and watched ALL credits roll. So, what’s the big deal with sitting another few minutes for a Q&A? They only last a few minutes.
Have another movie to get to? Well, leave DURING the credits! It’s very simple.
I hope all these ignorant people I just mentioned were not from Toronto.
I think most movie goers are strictly in it for entertainment purposes only. Meaning, they don’t really care about the process of making movies and I totally understand that.
However, a lot goes into making a film and these people that are bringing their art to our city deserve respect.
It’s not impossible and it’s never too late to acquire good TIFFiquette. Remember, we’re going to be doing this all over again next year.
Here are a few simple rules for being a good TIFFer:
Ask intelligent questions: think long and hard before you ask a question. You have the duration of the film to think. Please. I beg of you.
Don’t leave during a Q&A: Just don’t do it. These people are artists. They’ve worked very hard to bring their idea to life. Don’t shit on their work by getting up and leaving as an actor or director is trying to explain their work.
Don’t be a celebrity stalker: It’s easy to get carried away when you see a celebrity that you admire. Trust me, I know what that feels like. However, it’s poor etiquette to ask for an autograph when someone just finished going pee. Don’t accost celebrities in the bathroom!!!
This is to the irritating guy who sat behind me during the premiere of Passenger Side @ AMC (YDS), September 11, 2009:
Thanks for kicking my chair throughout the entire film, asshole. Even when I gave you the abrasive ‘turn-around-and-stare’ and asked you to stop, you thought it would be funny to keep doing it. Either that or you have a neurological disorder.
I just hope that I (or someone else) can return the favour next year.